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Hinsdale Teen Partners With Candyality To Sell Wooden iPhone Cases

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Nov 1, 2012 9:35PM

Photo courtesy Lillian Leung

We get tips. This one particularly stood out.

"I am Lillian Leung, a high school student from Hinsdale.

"I am passionate about business, especially entrepreneurship, thus started my own business selling wooden iPhone cases this summer. My website is Realizing the need to get more exposure, I contacted different businesses in Chicago and initiated a crossover project. I am currently collaborating with Candyality on a limited, Chicago-only edition of wooden iPhone 5 cases. The owner of Candyality, Terese McDonald, is a passionate entrepreneur herself. She realized her dream to own a retail business through her own candy store, which is now located in three locations, including Michigan Avenue. She is cooperating with me in this project because she hopes to pass on the spirit and passion towards entrepreneurship and also nurture future entrepreneurs."

Leung hooked us, so we emailed her some questions.

Chicagoist: Why did you decide on wooden iPhone cases?

Lillian Leung:
Unlike a lot of startups, I didn’t have a product before deciding to start my own business, so I was looking everywhere for a product. When I found out wooden iPhone cases, it just clicked for me. It is simple, yet elegant, and it’s a twist to an almost necessity. The thing is, not many people know about it. I thought I would enjoy using it and so should everyone!

C: Are these hand-carved or have you contracted production to a local fabricator?

LL: I actually order them from a supplier in China. This keeps my cost low and so that the cases are more affordable for everyone to enjoy. Moreover, the experience I gained while looking for a suitable supplier and negotiating with them was invaluable.

C: What has teaming with Candyality, and the WoodCrave process so far, taught you about being an entrepreneur?

The most important thing I learned was definitely not to be afraid to reach out. I cold-emailed a lot of businesses about the project before I found Candyality. I never believed I would be able to even get a reply from a large business like Candyality, let alone to work with them! Moreover, I realize to treasure the advantage of being a high-school student ― not only do I have relatively more time on my hands, I also got less to lose.

C: Do you expect to have enough inventory on hand to fulfill order requests for the holidays?

The design for Candyality is a limited edition. Also, hopefully with the promotion from the crossover project, I will get more orders for the iPhone cases I currently have on my website as well. My current inventory should be able to keep up with the demand.

C: Does your passion for woodworking extend beyond iPhone cases?

I do hope to expand my business to products apart from iPhone cases. I am looking for something that no one ever thought could be made with wood, but would turn out looking great with wood. However, there are limits that come with using wood, including the price and its rigidity.

C: What is the breakdown of your partnership with Candyality? Is Therese an equity partner only? Or does she have a say in the designs you're creating?

In a sense, Candyality is buying the cases from me. The design is entirely Candyality’s. I initiated this project for the purpose of reaching out to a larger audience as few people have heard of WoodCrave or wooden iPhone cases and gaining experience working with other businesses.