APSLEY — Amassing millions of “likes” from sweet-toothed fans on the wildly popular online platform TikTok, Polly and James Laneville, high school sweethearts turned tech-savvy business partners, are garnering international attention with their Apsley-based candy shop.
The husband-and-wife duo, owners of Tastely Box, package and sell custom boxes chock-full of novelty name-brand candies, sweets, chocolates, soft drinks and other unique sugary goods — from Japanese butter cookies and apple cider doughnut Oreos to Vietnamese soda Jelly Belly candy canes.
The pair launched their TikTok account in March ahead of the storefront’s summertime opening. Within a month-and-a-half, the page gained some 10,000 followers.
“We were shocked. It blew up so quickly,” said Polly.
The online buzz didn’t stop there.
After Polly posted a video introducing herself, her family and the budding business — which began as a small “side hustle” — the account’s follower count soared to 40,000 within a 24-hour period, and 200 online orders poured in.
“It was just insane. From that moment on, everything has just been a whirlwind,” Polly told the Examiner.
Now, Tastely Box’s TikTok has collected 3.8 million “likes” and boasts a following of 280,000 followers.
"It’s been a meteoric rise for the small business borne out of a fun “date night” idea.
“Once we had kids, we decided we needed some home date night options because it’s a little hard to get out. So I came up with the idea of date night boxes — different themes focused on finding unique candies not usually found around here,” explained Polly.
“Then one night James said ‘this is a really great idea. People would enjoy this.’ Then the pandemic hit and we were just like, ‘you know what, let’s jump in and see what happens,’” she continued. “Let’s take a dive. We keep saying ‘someday.’”
Polly says Tastely Box has found success by harnessing the power and reach of TikTok to create engaging, behind-the-scenes videos that answer followers’ questions about how the business operates. Polly manages the business’ social media channels while James sends orders to customers in Canada and the U.S. The pair are assisted by two employees — an in-store worker and a customer service representative who works from home.
“We all have our parts and we work seamlessly together,” Polly said.
Polly and James are both leading their business full-time. James, who for years worked as a surface miner, quit his day job to join the candy and chocolate industry full-on. Polly pressed pause on her other small arts business to build Tastely Box’ growing brand.
“I like going to work and it not feeling like I’m going to work,” James said.
Even though the business keeps them busy, running the thriving candy shop gives Polly and James more time to spend with their young children.
“James used to work 12-hour shifts and he’d be gone most of the week. The boys wouldn’t see him sometimes for days on end. Now, we see them every day,” said Polly.
“We’re still crazy busy, but we’ve been able to create a balance here. We have more time to actually be a family,” she added.
The candy connoisseurs aren’t resting on their laurels. While launching during the pandemic hasn’t come without its challenges — they’ve been met with some supply shortages — Polly and James have plans to expand Tastely Box, with international interest growing.
When it comes to new business owners, Polly has some advice: “be OK with failure.”
“Keep going. It just takes that one video and the next thing you know, your life is totally different.”
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner