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Hidden Gems: Meet Gary Holley of Gary Gary Confectionery

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gary Holley.

Hi Gary, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
Many years ago, a co-worker suggested a “toffee-making” party around the holidays. It was a way to socialize and (maybe) make some gifts. None of us had ever made toffee before, so we winged it. There were a few good batches and a few not so good (a little burnt maybe). All still edible.

Over the years, I would make toffee as my go-to holiday gift that I gave to friends, family and clients. Working as a freelance graphic designer and motion graphic animator, I sit behind a computer most of the day. I was always looking for more hands-on, tactile outlets such as candy making. Plus, the successes can be shared with my family and friends, or as they call themselves, “quality control”.

For quite some time, I had planned starting a confection business but hadn’t gotten out of planning stages. Focus and finances were still in the works. At some point, a friend and I started talking and we both liked the idea of starting a business together. From that talk sprung Gary Gary Confectionery.

One person that I would like to acknowledge as key in starting this business was my mom. She was my number one supporter, cheerleader, and advocate. Unfortunately, she would never know what she helped create. She passed away the year before I started the company. But, with the proceeds from the sale of her house I was able to fund this new venture. So, thank you Ma!

My buddy, who started with me, has gone onto other business ventures so now Gary Gary Confectionery is a one-man show.

All of my products are handcrafted in small batches. And my toffee craftsmanship has been fine-tuned over 30 years through education, taste, and trial and error.

Seeing the humor in all things guarantees that Gary Gary will never takes itself too seriously and at the same time assures you get amazing flavor bite after bite.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The road has been smooth-ish. Not having any food-related business experience I learned a LOT along the way. As everyone, COVID threw a wrench in things and I shut down for about 3 or 4 months in the beginning. Thankfully, I was able to reopen. And, since being back open, business has been increasing. Which brings my latest challenge, scaling up production to meet the new demand. But, that is a good challenge to have. I’ve also been fortunate to have my very supportive partner, Jessica, help smooth the bumps along the way.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Gary Gary Confectionery?
At Gary Gary, I am specializing in small-batch, handcrafted confections. As of today, my products are a dark or milk chocolate almond toffee and a salted caramel turtle with roasted pecans, dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt. Other products in the works.

I feel what sets Gary Gary apart is the taste, freshness, and consistent quality of my products. I strive to have each item as good as the last, if not better. Also, the overall attitude is to not take myself too seriously and at the same time assure you you’ll get amazing flavor bite after bite.

When coming up with the name of the company, there were a ton of ideas that I wrote down. I was thinking of using something with my first name, Gary when I came across a company called Cary’s Chocolates. I thought that was too close to Gary.

Then, at one point, I wrote down Gary Gary (for whatever reason) and my stream of “un”consciousness wrote “confectionery”.

Saying Gary Gary Confectionery made me literally laugh out loud, so I knew that was a keeper.

Brand-wise I’m super proud of the overall visual direction that I’ve developed from the logo to all of the packaging.

Currently, our products can be bought at the Little Italy Farmer’s Market and online at garygary.net. We also do corporate gift mailings.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
I have a math degree with a computer science minor. These days I wear three hats: confectioner, freelance graphic designer, and photography teacher. My primary business activities are graphic design and video editing at Gene Pool Hall (my other business). I’m also an adjunct professor at San Diego City College where I teach photography.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Turtle image – Kathy Tran (https://www.instagram.com/puffs_sd/)

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