Candy Hearne is as sweet as her name suggests. The retired flight attendant and former boutique owner is happy to just sit and chat with you as long as you have the time.
Her company, Dulces Sueños, brings a little touch of joy to homes lucky enough to land one of her colorful, hand-embroidered pillows and supports the female Mexican artisans who do the exquisite needlework that makes those pillows so special. (The English translation of the Spanish phrase “dulces sueños” is “sweet dreams.”)
Not only is Candy probably the oldest Flea Style vendor in terms of her age (72), she’s been with us from our very first show, hawking her home goods since the earliest South Side days. Her whimsical designs captured our imaginations that first show and continue to spark a smile all these years later. She will, of course, be at our show next month, sharing a booth with D’Ann Wright of Burnin’ Beak and her fabulous habanero marmalade.
If you haven’t already met Candy, find her and say “hi.” She loves meeting new people — but be warned that you may want to scoop up her whole store. Before then, though, get to know a bit about this free spirited lady.
When did you decide to start your business and why?
My son was getting married in Mississippi. My mother and I were driving to the wedding and stopped in a shop and saw a pillow that read “Sweet Dreams.” My mother bought it for me, and I just loved it.
Around the same time — this was about 18 years ago — a friend of mine moved to San Miguel de Allende. I was going down there to visit her a lot and was trying to think of something I could do to justify why I was always there. I remembered that pillow that my mother had given me, and it gave me the idea to start a line of pillows embroidered with Spanish phrases. I had no intention of making it a business. In the beginning, I would just give stuff away as baby gifts and housewarming presents. I was perfectly happy with it being more of a hobby.
But it grew into a rather large line of pillows. People began to collect them. I evolved the line over the years from just solid colors to multicolors. Eventually, I began to branch out into other things, like Otomi pillows, retablo pillows, nativity pillows, and small hooked rugs that can be made into pillows.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with the business?
The language barrier is challenging. I still don’t speak Spanish. When I need to find someone to do some work, it can be difficult, though now I know people who can help. In terms of turnaround time, cultural differences can be challenging. As Americans, we tend to want things right away, and the women who do the embroidery for me don’t think that way. And then there is the problem of shipping the goods from Mexico. It’s not easy.
What’s been your proudest business moment so far?
My main point of pride is that I am supporting the artisans whom I employ in their businesses. All of the embroidered panels for my pillow designs are done by women in San Miguel and Juarez; the Otomi pillows are done by women in Central Mexico. The panels they create are sent to me, and the pillows are assembled in Dallas. I love that I am helping people have an income and build their lives.
What’s been your favorite design/product to date?
I still love my original “Dulces Sueños” pillow inspired by that pillow from Mississippi. That’s been my favorite. It’s a really sweet design with birds, hearts, and flowers.
Do you have any tips for newbies in the industry?
I say go for it! If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, just go for it!
What’s new for Dulces Sueños? What can people going to the fall Flea Style show in Dallas expect from you?
My latest passion is hooked rugs. I’ll be selling some pieces done by a co-op of women in San Miguel. They can be used as small rugs or as wall hangings, or they can be made into pillows. I think they are amazing! I will also have hand-embroidered nightgowns from Oaxaca and fabric reindeer made in Chiapas.
Up with the birds or burning the midnight oil? Up with the birds.
Buttoned up or let it all hang out? Let it all hang out.
Cupcakes or cookies? Cookies.
Coffee or cocktails? Coffee.
Dogs or cats? Dogs.
Sunrise or sunset? Both.
Be sure to meet Candy and see her sweet things at our Dallas show next month.