Originally an online-only, high-end candy brand, Sugarfina has found innovative ways to connect its brand to the customer and reach new audiences both digitally and in its stores, the company’s co-founder and CEO told attendees at eTail East in Boston.

“We wanted to do something that was very different [and] targeted to the adult customer designed around sophistication, creating this beautiful gourmet gift experience,” said Rosie O’Neill, who owns Sugarfina with her partner Josh Resnick.

Sugarfina works with artisan candy makers from around the world to create an exclusive line of candies. The $60 million company sells wholesale to hotels and luxury retailers as well as in its stores and direct to customer. Sugarfina opened its first store in 2013 and now has 40 in the U.S. and one in China, as well as 12 shops inside Nordstrom locations.

“We’ve been tripling in size every year, and we’ve been able to drive that growth primarily through non-paid marketing,” said O’Neill.

Standing Out and Telling Your Brand Story

O’Neill told attendees it’s important for brands to be dramatically different and offer a fresh approach. He said creating engaging experiences should be top of mind, a great tool for building long-term brand value.

“Times like these when retail is challenging are big opportunities for brands to do things differently, stand out and capture market share,” she said. Tactics for drawing customers to the stores include holding charitable events as well as product launches. Customers can also create and design their own candy bento box in the store by choosing from various pre-packaged candy.

Telling a brand story also connects customers to a brand. Customers love to connect with the people and the story behind the brands they love, to learn why they’re so passionate about what they’re selling and where it came from.

“Josh and I have our Willy Wonka origin story,” O’Neill said. “We put that love story in every boutique. Our customers love that….