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From grandma’s kitchen to Amy’s Candy Bar

A corporate layoff prompts Amy Hansen to pursue her real passion — baking — which leads to opening up a one-of-a-kind sweets shop.

November 14, 2012
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Blame it on Grandmother Geraldine. That’s where Amy Hansen learned her love for baking, which eventually led to candy making.

Intrigued by everything her grandmother made, Hansen would stand side-by-side with her in the kitchen with watchful eyes. Grandma Geraldine, an avid baker, eventually inspired Hansen into opening up her own shop, Amy’s Candy Bar in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

Upon graduating from Hamline University in St Paul, Minn. with a degree in psychology and marketing, Hansen first pursued a career in corporate America. It didn’t take long, however, to discover that her true passion was baking.

As a result, in 2006, the Wisconsin native decided to leave her marketing position in Minneapolis and enroll in Chicago’s French Pastry School. After graduating she returned to the corporate world and put baking on the back burner.

However, when Hansen was laid off in the summer of 2010, she could not stomach the thought of searching for another marketing gig. It seemed fate had intervened, so Hansen opted to pursue her passion...baking and candy making.

Thanks to a grant from Chicago’s Small Business Improvement Fund, Hansen used that collateral as means of securing a loan from a bank to open a truly one-of-kind sweets boutique.  

The first-time entrepreneur and expert baker/confectioner made sure Amy’s Candy Bar carried a wide variety of candies and confections — everything from gummies and licorice to fine European chocolates and ice cream. In addition, Hansen used her training to create distinct confections such as Amy’s Signature Sea Salt Caramel and Old World pistachio nougat.

Hand-crafted and using only the finest of ingredients, these pieces of heaven have quickly become a favorite of customers near and far.

No surprise that Hansen has garnered a loyal following in her first year of business, and continues to expand her client base, providing custom candy tables, baked goods and party favors.

 

What did you think you would be when you grew up?

I fancied myself as a corporate business woman.

 

Name one of your favorite movies.

Love Actually.

 

Describe your perfect dream vacation.

Relaxing on a beach in Spain.

 

What book are you currently reading?

Reworkby Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson.

 

Aside from a family member, with whom would you most want to be stranded on a deserted island?

My dog, Beckham.

 

What is your pet peeve?

When people pop/snap/crack their gum in their mouth.

 

I’d give anything to meet…

Julia Child.

 

The best piece of advice I’ve received:

Keep on networking.

 

What excites you most about your job?

 Seeing smiles on kids ‘and adults’ faces alike as they walk into the store.   

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