Lucia Rios: Twisted 4 Sugar

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Sweet & Unique!

By Anabel Marquez

Photography: Rachel Carrillo

The first time Lucia Rios introduced Twisted, her gourmet cotton candy business to a large crowd, she was at a women’s conference with her mom. It was March 2017 and the line to order one of her signature Latin-inspired cotton candy flavors was long with conference attendees returning for second servings.

“When we drove home that night, I looked at my mom and asked her, ‘what just happened!?,’” she recalls.

Five months prior to that event, Rios had been experimenting with flavored sugars in her Whittier apartment kitchen. She had researched cotton candy production, purchased a cotton candy machine and invested $600 in a variety of sugar flavors.

But Rios says each of the flavors that arrived with her order tasted awful.

“They were so nasty! I was super bummed out, super upset,” she says.

Disappointed by the idea that her investment had failed, she decided to use the sugars anyway and practice making the popular fluffy sugar clouds.

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One evening, as she spun a watermelon flavored bundle, a few friends stopped by to visit and suggested she add Tajín, a Mexican seasoning mix made of chili peppers, lime and salt.

Adding the Tajín to the wispy watermelon cotton candy gave the unpopular flavor a unique twist, one that was reminiscent of watermelon fruit bowls sold by street vendors in many of LA's Hispanic communities.

“It tasted good!” remembers Rios. “I got really excited and I took my composition book where I wrote my business plan and started writing down other ideas to replicate flavors that reminded me of things I loved growing up, like birthday parties, Downtown LA and aguas (fresh fruit beverages).”

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She created her dream menu and began developing her own flavors from scratch, many of which incorporate traditional Latin flavors like Churro, Dulce de Leche, Mango with chili powder and Horchata.

Two years later, business is booming. Rios currently offers 32 cotton candy flavors and is booked frequently for private parties, corporate events and Pop-ups throughout Southern California. Most recently, she started selling her signature cotton candy flavors online. Customers can either order Twisted cotton candy containers or place wholesale orders.

“It was meant for me to make that error (spending $600 on pre-made sugar flavors). I wasn’t supposed to buy them. I was supposed to make them myself and create something for myself.”

 

Before the fun and colorful world of cotton candy

Rios has two children, 7-year old Costello and 2-year old daughter Stevie. After having the kids, Rios and her husband tied the knot. Then he encouraged her to focus on Twisted after she left her full-time job at a marketing company.

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But launching the business came after a difficult time for Rios who suffered a severe case of post-partum depression with her baby girl. She struggled for months, feeling like her maternal instinct was not kicking in.

“When women have post-partum depression with their first child, they don’t know any different. They don’t have anything to compare it to,” says Rios. “Maybe they feel like that’s normal and that’s why it goes unspoken…They probably think ‘if I say I don’t care about my kid, people are going to think I’m crazy.’”

She had experienced instant love and bonding with her firstborn but the second time around, Rios says she didn’t feel such a connection.

Her return to work from maternity leave made matters worse so she resigned from her job in an effort to focus on her emotional well-being and bond with her daughter.

Still, Rios wasn’t improving and in a moment of desperation, she packed her bags and was determined to leave the house and allow her husband to raise the kids.

“Walking away was something that I, at that time thought was the best,” recalls Rios. “I felt like if I remove myself they’ll be sad but they won’t grow up with this constant torment of a mom who is angry and mean and hateful towards them.”

That day marked a new beginning for Rios. When her husband arrived and found her packed bags, he talked her out of leaving and encouraged her to seek help.

Rios started going to therapy and started finding ways to heal through positive intentions. She became mindful of the hormonal imbalance that’s prevalent after women have children and through her recovery, she felt better. Slowly she started leaving behind the negative feelings and focusing on her love for her kids.

Then she got inspired to start a business. She wanted to do something unique.

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In thinking of a business idea she decided on cotton candy because it’s a sweet treat loved by all. And when it came to a business name, she felt Twisted was perfect. Not only would it describe her twist to classic cotton candy flavors, it also described her own personality.

“I feel like I’m a little twisted–– I’m girly but I’m edgy. I like Selena but I also like Nirvana. I feel like I’m a little bit of everything!,” says Rios. “ I like simple things…but with a twist.”

Twisted has grown from a kitchen apartment experiment to a big workspace, plus,  Rios says her business has helped her become more spiritual.

“I’ve become more in tune with myself,” she assures.

 

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Mommy in Los Angeles® Magazine had an opportunity to spend time with Lucia Rios in Downtown LA. She arrived to the photo shoot with her cotton candy cart that featured a hand-drawn personalized logo of Mommy In Los Angeles® Magazine. Lucia showed us the process of spinning cotton candy, she shared samples of her unique flavors and allowed us to enjoy a pleasant afternoon with laughs and life stories. Lucia is driven, detail-oriented and determined. We commend her for her openness and congratulate her on a successful business and honest motherhood journey. Every Mom Has a Story.