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The Sweet Life of Dylan Lauren

By Phebe Wahl

Photography by Carter Berg

06.25.18

Montauk mom Dylan Lauren’s secret to success in balancing both a booming business and beautiful brood lies in an emphasis on quality over quantity.

"Well I love candy, so it's pretty much as simple as that,"

Dylan Lauren says of her original desire to launch a candy empire, citing such films as the 1971 Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as inspiration. “I love candy for how it tastes, but I also just love how it looks. I love the packaging and the colorful graphics and the shapes, the colors, the textures,” she explains, also sharing that as a girl she collected candy while travelling the globe both as a student and with her famous family. “I just collected it, not only to eat it but to put on my shelf as sort of art pieces,” she says, explaining that what originally was concepted as a museum of candy evolved into a retail concept.

Today, Lauren’s empire has grown to include 26 stores (including three in New York City and one in East Hampton) that offer a wonderland of more than 7,000 varieties of confections, plus signature savory eats, lifestyle apparel and gifts, private-label products, parties, ice cream and dessert parlors, and candy cocktail bars. She’s also recently debuted collaborations including both an aden + anais swaddle line and a curated collection of dessert plates, serving platters and cake stands for Williams Sonoma. This fall, Lauren will launch a limited-edition Grease collection inspired by Rydell High in celebration of the iconic film’s 40th anniversary. In the tradition of her generous family, she has also started animal advocacy nonprofit Dylan’s Candy BarN—inspired by her own adopted pup, Jersey.

Linen eyelet maxidress, $698, and indigo flag linen-blend scarf, $85, both at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton.

On top of her rapidly expanding business, Lauren manages to juggle her 3-year-old “twinkies”—fraternal twins Cooper Blue and Kingsley Rainbow. “I think it’s definitely made me try to schedule my time a little more carefully,” she says, revealing that she is always sure to schedule “twinkie time” with the kids. “Running my own company, I have control of my calendar—but it’s definitely a test of balance for sure.”

Lauren shares how when she was a child her parents always prioritized private family time despite also growing their own Ralph Lauren empire. “Weekends were with the family,” she says. “It wasn’t about socializing or my parents going to crazy events and leaving us behind.” So, despite her hectic schedule, Lauren makes quiet time for family. “I think it’s really important to spend quality time with your family—and not just quantity, but quality,” she says. “And I think also that my dad was good at bringing us to understand what he does.” She explains that in keeping with family tradition, her children attend school near her store and often share in mommy’s work life. “They go to a preschool right next to my store, so they know exactly what I do, and they started understanding a little too well,” she says, laughing.

You might wonder how a mom who also runs a global candy empire might regulate sugar intake with her family. Lauren says moderation is key… and, yes, she admits to the occasional bribe. “For potty training, we give them each a gummy bear, or if they did all the things they were supposed to do—like sharing—which is a big thing,” she says. For the most part, the family eats a healthy diet loaded with fresh vegetables with the occasional treat here and there. “It’s more like embedded as a special moment, which is nice,” she says.

On Kingsley Rainbow: Striped cotton shirt dress, $55. On Cooper Blue: Cotton dress shirt, $60, and slim-fit cotton chino pant, $40. On Dylan: Floral silk wrap dress, $398. All at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton. Hair by Christine Healey Makeup by Sadah Saltzman

But the best part of summer is enjoying life out East playing on the beach in Montauk, seeing the ducks at Davis Pond and visiting the animals at Rita’s Farm. “They used to have two pigs—Bacon and Eggs. I just love to introduce [the kids] to caring for animals,” says the longtime animal advocate. Regular stops for smoothies are also part of the routine. “There’s a place called Naturally Good in Montauk that has protein smoothies that we’ll take the kids to because they have an outdoor deck,” she says. “For coffee we go to the Montauk Bake Shoppe or Goldberg’s. Getting coffee is our thing—it’s parents’ time out.” Another family favorite is Gurney’s in Montauk, where the twins enjoy the activity room. “They have an amazing children’s recreation place with camps for kids. It’s been great for our kids because they have a huge room of every activity—like, movies are playing in the background, kids are playing basketball, there’s a little arcade room, and our kids love to color and build and pretend they’re cooking in the kitchen. It’s just an amazing place,” Lauren says. But of course, the sweetest part of summer is the occasional ice cream treat from Dylan's Candy Bar in East Hampton.  

Main Image: On Cooper Blue: Cotton dress shirt, $60, and straight-fit chino short, $35. On Kingsley Rainbow: Stretch mesh polo dress, $40. On Dylan: Linen eyelet maxidress, $698, and denim trucker jacket, $198. All at Polo Ralph Lauren, East Hampton.