We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily Harpel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Emily, what role has risk played in your life or career?
If you were to poll my inner circle and say “describe Emily” I can without a doubt guarantee “risk taker” would not make the list. As a matter of fact, I can also guarantee risk adverse would make the list. I know, I know it seems ironic. While starting a cotton candy at the age of 23, freshly out of college, and newly married seems risky, it has truly never felt that way to me.

When I had the idea for starting a gourmet cotton candy company, I knew I was on to something. Starting was scary, sure, but it never felt like a risk. Oddly, it felt riskier to not pursue the idea and ultimately, I think this mindset/feeling has lead to more success. I know if I would have viewed starting a business as a risky behavior, I would have never done it. The same goes for every leap I have taken since. I think my secret sauce is that I haven’t actually viewed any of it as risk, but what was necessary to succeed.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I started Art of Sucre in 2016 when I got the idea to create a gourmet cotton candy company while planning my own wedding. I was scrolling Pinterest like most brides planning a wedding and wanted something unique for a wedding favor. Cotton candy kept popping up as an option, but I was always disappointed in my options which seemed to be just pink or blue cotton candy with non specific flavor. Immediately, I was inspired to give cotton candy a chic upgrade that it deserved by creating a treat for kids and adults alike to love. With flavors such as champagne, orange bourbon, watermelon, sugar cookie, etc and cotton candy glitter bombs to add a little bit of extra shimmer to your favorite clear and bubbly drink Art of Sucre was born.

While starting and scaling a business is probably one of the most difficult things I will ever do, it has been so worth it. I tease that my job is really just a professional problem solver and all I do is put fires out all day. I have learned to adapt, find solutions in unlikely ways, and that pivoting is how you survive in business.

While making delicious cotton candy may not be the same thing has operating open heart surgery, I do get to bring people joy in small ways and I find the to be really cool.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My go to place is always a local wine bar to start the night. Here in Cleveland, its always Flight Cleveland where the vibe, drinks and people are pure perfection! And, of course, we bring our own glitter bombs to share too!

From there a walk to dinner where we can enjoy another round of cocktails and delicious food to spend some time just chatting and connecting. There is something so incredible about sitting around a table with your people and catching up.

Another must on my list is any art museum, even if it’s just to eat in the cafe. I also love finding a cool, unique spot that most other places probably don’t have. Locally, it’s our favorite shuffle board bar where you can reserve a board and play all night long!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Hands down my husband, Drew. Picture this, you’re 21, finishing up your senior year of college, and just got hitched to your high school sweetheart (yes, we got married EXTREMELY young). On the way back from your honeymoon, your wife of a week looks at you, completely serious, and says she wants to start a cotton candy company instead of going on to graduate school. Any normal human would tell this woman she is insane and she needed to go and get a real job. Or at least, that’s what I would have down if the roles were reversed. Instead, my wonderful husband looked me right in the eye and said, “Em, you need to do this, forget grad school. It’s a great idea”.

Not only did he encourage this idea from the start, but he has been by my side cheering me on every step of the way. From coming up with the business name on that very same car ride, to assembling cotton candy carts in a tiny condo, assisting at events, being a quasi accountant, learning to spin cotton candy, and so much more. He deserves all of the credit in the world for everything he has done in aiding my dreams to come true.

Website: www.artofsucre.com

Instagram: @artofsucre

Linkedin: Emily Harpel

Facebook: @artofsucre

Youtube: @artofsucre

Other: TikTok: @artofsucre

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