Maayan Zilberman oozes style. Top to bottom, her look is thoughtful, cool and sexy. So it's no great surprise to find she's a former lingerie designer. The fashionista and serial entrepreneur also has been making candy — yes candy — with a stylish twist.
Zilberman, 38, is the brains behind New York-based Sweet Saba, a luxury candy line launched in November 2015. Her avant-garde collection includes edible versions of candy lipsticks, sunglasses, mix tapes and records that include hand-painted details. She also produces sugar crystal candy that looks like glass statues, which are handmade, with flavors including champagne and ginger.
The only problem? The yummy treats just might be too beautiful to eat.
"The way I approach candy is more from an artistic perspective," she said. "It's for grown-ups. I'm asking customers to take a moment to think about what it looks like, what it might taste like and what the experience might be."
Prices range from $5 into the thousands for custom orders.
As a child, Zilberman immigrated to Canada from Israel, and her fascination with creativity started early. She used to bake with her grandfather, experimenting and making sculptures in the kitchen. "Sweet Saba" is named after him. "Saba" means grandfather in Hebrew.
"Baking was exciting to me as a kid because it was the fantasy of turning [materials] into something else," she said.
Zilberman's creative resume includes a luxury lingerie brand she co-founded called, The Lake & Stars, which had its final season in the fall of 2012. From there, she moved on as a creative director of Frederick's of Hollywood, which was undergoing a rebranding.
But working on more established, large brands means distance from the actual end products. This artist-entrepreneur yearned for a more hands-on connection with what was being created. Then came the candy.
"I wanted to get back to my roots of making art, and I didn't have an art studio at the time," Zilberman said. "So I started making small sculptures in my kitchen where I could make a mess. The most convenient medium I had at the time was sugar."
She eventually posted the items online to share with friends, who began to order them.
"I started to look at the numbers and opportunity and realized this was a business," she said. With no formal training in cooking or baking, Zilberman said, she "learned everything on YouTube."
Her candy is available exclusively at SweetSaba.com, and in pop-up shops in and around New York. Projected sales for the remainder of 2017 are in the six-figure range, she said.
And her unique, luxury candy has attracted top clients. Customers have included W Magazine, fashion label Alice+Olivia and Adam Selman, a favorite designer of pop star Rihanna.
She never knows who will call for an order. Zilberman was once commissioned to design a candy wrestling belt.
"To me, success is to have your voice heard, and to be creative and to be part of the conversation," she said.
— Video by Sophie Bearman, Qin Chen and Kyle Walsh.
Editor's note: A version of this story originally was published in March 2016.
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