Who among us hasn’t enjoyed a sticky handful of cotton candy? Close your eyes and walk back in time. Picture the candy, usually in pink or blue, artfully spun by people that appeared to have a secret, magical talent. Imagine opening the bag and taking your first handful of sugary delight. See the way it stuck to your fingers, crystallizing as you tried to lick it off. Feel it melt on your tongue, sending an explosion of sweetness through your body. Are you there with me? Can you taste it?
For many of us, the mere mention of cotton candy conjures up such sweet memories. That is usually where it ends, however. Unless we visit a local carnival or happen along some at a special event, cotton candy remains a memory. Fortunately, one Moorhead couple is trying to change that. Jeff and Kaylie Risbrudt recently started the Cotton Candy Co., designed to provide the treat on demand and to “bring smiles all year long.”
Jeff grew up in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and met Moorhead native Kaylie at Inspiration Point Bible Camp in 2009, where they were both counselors. They started dating the following spring and were married in July of 2012. Initially, Jeff worked as a math teacher and football coach in Minnesota while Kaylie worked at an optical store. Jeff decided his future was in the financial planning world, however, and the couple moved back to Moorhead after having their daughter, Annie, in 2015.
Doesn’t sound like a path that would lead to cotton candy. It makes more sense when you consider Jeff’s childhood, which involved summers spent working in his family’s concession business in Canada. “After having the business for over 20 years, his family sold the business but kept the cotton candy machine,” Kaylie explained. “Jeff took it from his dad in college and used it for a few events.” Although Jeff used the machine here and there over the next couple of years, he never considered it a potential business.
After moving to Moorhead, the couple decided that Kaylie’s time would be best spent as a stay-at-home mom, so they started investigating alternate forms of income. Jeff woke up one morning and knew their future was in cotton candy. “We never had dreams of owning a business, but this is something that we can both do at home together and on our own time,” Kaylie explained. “Concessions and small business have been a part of Jeff’s life for so long that it is a natural fit for him.”
Both Jeff and Kaylie have a hand in the business. Currently, Jeff spins the cotton candy while Kaylie takes care of design and packaging, which includes colorful tulle on each bag. The candy comes in six flavors: blue raspberry, pink vanilla, purple grape, yellow lemon, red watermelon, and green watermelon. Unlike a typical cotton candy stand’s, however, each bag from Cotton Candy Co. is personalized. “We allow customers to pick their own flavors of cotton candy and their own tulle color,” Jeff said. “We want to make our product as unique and as special as our customers are.”
Sales over the first six months of the business exploded. During their first month of operation, the company sold 60 bags. Six months later, they sold 1,350. The Risbrudts saw nothing but continual growth as their business became more widely known. Jeff would like to expand the company as well. “Future plans are to make a cute cotton candy cart to be able to spin live at company work events and weddings,” he said.The Cotton Candy Co. is the only place in the Fargo/Moorhead metro area that provides fresh cotton candy throughout the year. It is no longer necessary to wait until the fair comes to town or to settle for the boxed variety, and you certainly don’t have to let kids have all the fun. Cotton candy is timeless, ageless, and now available with one phone call. What more do you need to know?
Jeff and Kaylie are happy with the direction of their company and look forward to growing their client base. “We want everyone to know that we are a family-oriented business and are so thankful to be able to be a part of so many families’ special events.”
For more information on the Cotton Candy Co., visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/cottoncandycomn.
By Jamee Larson