ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — A local business that started as a cotton candy stand just three years ago is now looking for franchisees. 

Alex Edwards, co-owner of Candy Cloud, which opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Rockford’s east side in March, said his goal is to have 10 franchises up and running in 2023. 

“When we were building our store, we were really focusing on making everything replicable,” Edwards said. “And we knew we wanted to grow, and we realized franchising was the best way to grow quickly.”

Candy Cloud began in 2019. A former Rockford firefighter, Edwards left the department in 2020 and turned it into a full-time food truck, operating out of a converted vintage camping trailer.

Going full-time turned out to be the right decision. The venture’s popularity only continued to grow, becoming a top draw at various locations, including Rockford City Market. The floodgates really opened the next year as he and his wife, Paityn, released a full line of canned boba drinks and a TikTok video of them making them went viral. 

“It really took off for us,” Edwards said. “They became 80 percent of our sales, so we decided to open a store and lean into the drinks even further.”

Edwards said he is eyeing cities in Wisconsin first before offering franchises in other markets. 

“We hired the top franchise consulting firm in America to help us build out our system,” he said. “We just launched it in October, and we’re moving along with some candidates.”

The Candy Cloud location at 6286 E. State St., Rockford, will serve as the company’s flagship store. Their menu also includes ice cream, hot chocolate, coffee, and kakigori, a Japanese shaved ice.

A military veteran, Edwards said the boba drinks were inspired by his time living in Hawaii and Japan.