My introduction to Squish Candy came via the beauty industry a couple of years ago, at the L'Oréal Paris TIFF media lounge overlooking the red carpet in David Pecaut Square. I'm not really a candy person; I only noticed the laden treats table as we headed out the door for the evening's film premiere.
About a year later, though, my sister made me try her favourite Squish gummy flavours (Strawberry Rhubarb and a bunch I mention later in this post), and I was hooked. I've never tasted gummy candies as fresh (yeah, fresh!) and juicy as these.
Before she founded Squish in Montreal in 2014, Sarah Segal was the head of product development at David's Tea, a successful specialty-tea retailer (and family business) known for its plethora of unique flavours, such as Chocolate Rocket, Birthday Cake, and Santa's Secret (a ManiGeek favourite).
Now at nine locations in Canada and available online to the US too, Squish is a brilliant blend of Sarah's gift for creative flavour combination, graphic art and a love of fine candy. More than 100 varieties strong, Squish has chocolate, hard candies, and a deliciously playful range of gummies, from fruity to sour to cocktail-themed (as in Cuba Libre gummy squares with a rum and cola centre, star-shaped Mulled Wine gummies, and wildly popular Prosecco Bubbly Bears). Also available: vegetarian and vegan options.
Earlier this month, Beautygeeks chatted with Sarah about her candy palate and her beauty preferences too, and discovered they're more closely related than she'd thought.
squish candy: sarah segal's picky palate
Janine: Let's start with "Why candy?" and "Why gummies??"
Sarah Segal: "I thought that there was a real gap in the market when it comes to high-quality candy. That's what I'm attracted to. There are a lot of options for chocolate people, a lot of really cool designer brands. I really like Mast chocolate out of New York. I thought they were doing it in a new and exciting way where the packaging was beautiful, the product was beautiful. I just didn't feel like anyone was doing that in the gummy space.
"I don't actually eat much chocolate, which is surprising for a candy lover. In fact I don't eat a lot of candy. I'm really picky with what I eat.
"I'm definitely a salty person. I like french fries and chips. When I eat candy, I want it to be worth it. That's really what led me to finding stuff that I thought was my taste."
J: Do you source Squish candies ready-made or do you have them manufactured?
Sarah: "It's a mix. Sometimes we find a candy that's perfect, and we take an existing recipe if it's something pretty classic like our black licorice – we're not making that on our own. Our unique flavours though, we come up with. We do a lot of custom development in shape and flavour combinations."
J: My sister and I are huge fans of Squish Peach Bites, Mango Maracuja, Grapefruit and Blood Orange, and Strawberry Rhubarb gummies. The textures are brilliant, a lovely, bouncy-gelly consistency, almost juicy. Luscious.
Sarah: "I find texture is a huge part of what people enjoy. I'm a really classy-candy person. There are these Scandinavian wine gums that I'm obsessed with, Gott & Blandat. You can find them in grocery stores across Copenhagen and Sweden. I don't think they're necessarily for this market, but they're my taste. They're like original wine gums. Someone just brought me a whole big bag of them.
"High-quality gummies are big in Sweden; Scandinavia, in general, loves candy. I just find their candy so amazing – it's what got me interested. I was like, I know there's good candy out there. I've tasted it before."
J: Another Squish flavour that strikes me because I love it as a beauty ingredient and supplement is sea buckthorn.
Sarah: "That's a very traditional German flavour, and very common in Sweden as well. I've also seen a lot of high-end chefs start to use sea buckthorn in the past two years. It is a popular flavour in Europe, just very not known here. The other one like that would be woodruff, a common plant in Germany. It's a vine that grows in the forest, and it's a flavour we just don't have here."
J: Let's talk about your favourite Squish gummy flavours.
Sarah: "My classic favourite is the chili ginger hearts. I'm a spice lover. For me, the best way to end a meal is a spicy chili ginger heart. It kind of cleans the palate.
"A new favourite actually got me to like black licorice, which I was always so against. I'd nibble black licorice and always find it too strong. So I call our Glowfish a gateway licorice candy – it's half black licorice, half gummy. I can't stop eating them; they're absolutely the best gummy I've tried in a long time. They're part of our Back Magic Mix, a bag of different kinds of black licorice.
"And there's so many amazing ones about to launch. I keep forgetting what's already launched and what's coming in. There's one that makes me think a lot about makeup: a lip shape called Kiss Kiss. They're launching in limited release in the next month.
"The lip flavours are grape, champagne, and cherry, and they're to-die-for. I'm obvious biased, but I'm really proud of those. We developed them from scratch. They're going to be our Valentine's Day candy."
J: That's a great segue into some beauty talk. What's your makeup approach?
Sarah: "It's funny you ask that. I was thinking about that recently. I think I love high-quality products in makeup the same way I like them in food. I'm very conscience of additives, chemicals, fragrances. I'm very sensitive to smell – I think that makes me a good candy taster. It's kind of a gift and a curse I would say, because I'm really sensitive to it.
"I have very sensitive skin, too, so fragrance is the number one thing I avoid. I like to limit artificial ingredients. I try to go very minimal, because I'm running around all the time. Also, I just like to keep my skin really clean.
"I'm a very visual person so I love very colourful things and pops of colour. People joke with me – I always have neon nails and metallic nails. And glitter. I absolutely love glitter, but I try to do it in a more sophisticated way. I'll often try to bring a bit of colour or glitter into my makeup. Obviously, I think that's just a reflection of my aesthetic. It's in the packaging. It's how I like to do it. I don't do it in an obvious way."
J: That's one of the fun things when it comes to the whole look of Squish – the design of the packaging and the logo and just the way that the store looks. How much of that were you involved in? Is it all you?
Sarah: "A hundred and ten percent I would say. Besides actually doing the graphics myself, I went through a lot of work handpicking my graphics team and finding kindred spirits, and it was a fantastic process. Creatively, you need to find people who understand your vision. I had amazing people build the brand with me. They continued with it. They're not full-time, but they're advisors. We have in-house designers. I'm very involved. It's my favourite thing to do. Visual is so important."
J: When you look at Squish packaging and stores, you see clean, but you also see colour. That's your philosophy when it comes to your makeup as well.
Sarah: "I would say exactly. Yeah. I actually had never thought of that."
J: I love that. Do you wear bright lipsticks or bright lip gloss?
Sarah: "I do. I love a nice pop of colour in my lips, like a coral or like a shimmery lip gloss. Or a nude with a high gloss and with shimmer. I would do that, or a matte hot pink or a coral.
"I wear a lot of lip liner as colour, with a clear gloss over it. Or I leave it matte. I just bought a long-wear lip pencil from MAC, called More to Love. I also got a shade called Voltage. (I'm in malls a lot so MAC is really easy for me to pick up... I'm always walking near MAC or something. That's how I learn makeup).
"My other go-to is Giorgio Armani 500 gloss, every day. That's my obsession. It's more neutral.
"Visually, makeup stores are my inspiration – they understand colour and visuals the way I like it. You know? To walk into MAC or NARS for me is just like... I love colours and Pantones and shades. For me, makeup gets it. It's visual candy."
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I'm still more Team Cake than I am Team Candy. But thanks to Peach Bites, Mango Maracuja, and so on, I'm also Team Squish. How about you?
Squish Candy is available in Canada and the US via squishcandies.com. For international orders, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-855-731-4555. Dior holiday 2016 nail polish in Nova at dior.com; Urban Decay Vice Lipstick Vintage Collection at sephora.com.