THE GROUND FLOOR

Lori Ann's Candies springs from grandmother's recipes

Small business was a pop-up during 'newbo evolve'

Lori Vislisel selects truffles for a customer at Lori Ann’s Candies at their new stand in NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
Lori Vislisel selects truffles for a customer at Lori Ann’s Candies at their new stand in NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — Lori Vislisel got her start making candy about 20 years ago when her elderly grandmother decided to pass down the family’s treasured candy recipes.

“She didn’t want them to be lost because they weren’t written down,” Vislisel said. “That was the tricky part. I had to be patient — there were no measurements.”

As her grandmother eye-balled the ingredients, Vislisel measured them out and made notes, thus preserving the recipes for future generations.

Those recipes led to a new family tradition. Each Christmas, Vislisel and other family members would gather at her rural Mount Vernon home and make candy to give as gifts.

But soon people began placing orders for Vislisel’s chocolate truffles and other confections throughout the year. Eight years ago, Vislisel and her daughter, Lizz Rueschhoff, set up a table at a holiday market in Mount Vernon to sell Christmas candy.

“The table sold out in, like, an hour, and it was a three-hour event,” Rueschhoff recalled.

That was the beginning of Lori Ann’s Candies. Vislisel and Rueschhoff converted Vislisel’s garage into a small kitchen and became regulars at the Iowa City and Hiawatha farmers markets, where they sold a variety of handmade truffles, turtles, candy bars and other sweets.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We had regular customers who would buy 50 to 60 dollars of candy every week,” Vislisel said.

On Nov. 23, Lori Ann’s Candies opened shop at NewBo City Market.

“We wanted to offer candy all year-round and test out a true retail space,” said Rueschhoff, who has a business management and entrepreneurship degree from Kirkwood Community College. “We inquired about a spot here when we heard Sweetopia and That One Cupcake Place left, which limited the places where you could get sweets.”

They did a four-day pop-up shop at the market during the “newbo evolve” event and determined there was enough interest to move forward with a permanent vendor space.

Along with providing a year-round retail outlet, the new space also serves as a kitchen where Vislisel and Rueschhoff make all their candy.

“We wanted a commercial kitchen and it was cheaper to start up here than to commercialize our home-based kitchen,” Rueschhoff said. “They have a lot of amenities here like a dish room and restrooms.”

By securing a vendor space that already had sinks and counters and bringing in equipment from their home-based kitchen, the mother-daughter duo were able to open the shop without any additional financing.

“The candy itself paid for it,” Rueschhoff said.

They operate frugally, buying perishable ingredients only as needed and Swiss milk chocolate in bulk.

“After we pay all of our bills, we’ll buy one thing to help production,” Rueschhoff said.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Thank you for signing up for our e-newsletter!

You should start receiving the e-newsletters within a couple days.

They agree their next investment will be a tempering pot. They eventually would like to expand into their own chocolate boutique.

l Know a business in operation for less than a year that would make an interesting “Ground Floor”? Let us know at michaelchevy.castranova@thegazette.com.

At a Glance

l Owner: Lori Vislisel

l Manager: Lizz Rueschhoff

l Business: Lori Ann’s Candies

l Address: 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids

l Phone: (319) 350-5927

l Email: loriannscandies@gmail.com

l Facebook: loriannscandies

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.