Candy Lover Creates Customized Treats

From the time she was a little girl, Darci Kiyonaga always loved candy.

“I would wake up in the morning and say, ‘Mom, can I have candy for breakfast?'” she recalls. When the answer, of course, was no, she tried to negotiate: What about candy for dinner?

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Lava Roks creates customizable hard candy DARCI KIYONAGA PHOTOS

“Still, to this day, I love candy — Smarties, Fun Dip, those are my favorites,” she says.

So Kiyonaga has put her lifelong love to good use, and she launched hard candy company Lavaroks several months ago. Lavaroks offers handmade hard candies that can be individualized for events such as weddings, engagement parties, graduations, birthdays and more.

It started because Kiyonaga and her sister were shopping around for party favors. But their search for creative, customizable favors proved futile: They kept seeing the same things over and over again.

“I just wanted something that could be a little bit more personalized,” she says.

To solve the problem, Kiyonaga went about creating her own hard candy. She trained under a candy expert for weeks, perfecting the intricate, hours-long process of crafting tiny, delicate candies with varied designs. Now, Kiyonaga has been moonlighting as a candy maker while working as a financial management specialist during the day. She has been going through the process of testing her products — filling small orders for her friends and family and hitting the craft fair circuit.

Lavaroks is about to face one its biggest audiences yet as a vendor at the 18th annual New Baby Expo that runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 16-17 at Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall, which features resources for expectant moms, families with young children and caregivers. The expo is designed to be a one-stop shop for information on a variety of topics such as breast-feeding, childbirth, car seat safety, baby gear, childcare and more. Lavaroks joins dozens of other vendors who offer products geared toward young children.

And in line with the expo’s theme, Lavaroks’ booth will be stocked with candies that include designs for birth announcements, first birthdays and more.

Lavaroks flavors include pineapple, strawberry, water-melon, lemon, kiwi, lime, orange, passionfruit, pink lemonade, peach and more.

Other than for its taste, Kiyonaga also appreciates candy for its aesthetics — and she aims to incorporate fun, inventive designs into Lavaroks.

“People get a kick out of seeing all of the different designs that we can do. They are amazed at the detail that comes out in the end product,” she

to entrepreneurship: During college, she and husband Kyle ran a couple of companies, one that sold Hawaii-themed items, and another that sold dog treats. These days, Kyle helps her make candy.

“Pretty much anything that needs a (party) favor, we can do it,” she says.

To have Lavaroks candy created for your next event, orders should be placed about four to six weeks in advance. For more information or to place an order, call 221-1538 or visit lavaroks.com. You also can find Lavaroks on Facebook and Instagram (@lavaroks).

For more information about the New Baby Expo, visit familyexpositions.com.

coconnor@midweek.com