Meet Lake Mary’s Crystal Candy, who earned legions of loyal fans pitching everything from quilts to vacuum cleaners on the Home Shopping Network
It all started with the slime.
As a 13-year-old contestant on Nickelodeon’s Family Double Dare, filmed right here in Central Florida, Crystal Candy got to see television behind the scenes. She watched as crew members, on their knees and out of the camera’s eye, cleaned up the mess that was so essential to the show’s goofy fun. Then, when she had to change clothes because she was soaked after competing in one of Family Double Dare’s infamous physical challenges, Crystal saw a wardrobe room full of elaborate costumes used by the children’s network.
It was the summer of 1990. She was hooked.
The Lake Mary resident has spent most of her years since in front of a camera, from working as a television reporter in Tennessee to promoting products and attracting fans on the Home Shopping Network.
“It was exciting,” Crystal says of the slime madness in the Nickelodeon studios. “I never wanted to be an actress. But for some reason, I knew I had to be in television.”
Crystal was still in college when she landed an internship with a TV news station in Chattanooga, working for free and sniffing out human interest stories. She was going to class, then covering fires and crime scenes on her days off.
“I was so hungry to get experience,” Crystal recalls. “They kind of adopted me.”
This was followed by reporting and anchoring stints in South Carolina and Orlando, as well as freelance projects in television and print. Crystal also worked for a while as a media specialist with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
In 2009, Crystal landed her highest-profile job to date – a spot on the aforementioned Home Shopping Network, where she promoted everything from toys to quilts to scrapbooks. Crystal developed a following and felt a kinship with her audience.
“They are very, very loyal viewers,” Crystal says of the dedicated HSN fans. “With their TV on all day as background, you almost become a part of their homes, part of their lives.”
One reason for Crystal’s success is that, as she said, she is not an actress. Her audition with the Home Shopping Network went well because she decided to be herself. And she convincingly believes in the products she is promoting.
Occasionally, inevitably, there were on-air glitches. Someone walks in front of the camera. Or she goes to demonstrate a product, and it isn’t plugged in. Once, Crystal almost fell down some stairs with one of the Dyson vacuum cleaners she became famous for pitching.
Crystal’s trick, a la Johnny Carson, was to turn the joke on herself then switch gears, rather than pretend nothing happened.
“This is live television,” Crystal explains. “Anything can happen, and you have to roll with what happens. I’m pretty good under pressure.”
Over the years, Crystal has noticed something else about herself. In front of a crowd, she gets nervous. In front of a camera, she feels totally in control.
“It’s a weird thing,” says the single mother of two young boys.
Offsetting the awkward moments were those times when Crystal could see, in real time, that viewers were snapping up whatever she was promoting at the moment. At some point in her days at Home Shopping Network, Crystal began exclusively pushing Dyson products, which are sold in 65 countries. More recently, she left the network to concentrate exclusively on promoting Dyson’s new Supersonic hairdryer, which she says represents a breakthrough in this common household product.
Hairdryer design has changed little in 50 years, Crystal says. But the Supersonic sports a digital motor the diameter of a quarter that is located in the handle. That makes it considerably lighter and quieter and cuts drying time in half.
Crystal travels the country now, holding demonstrations for groups of hair stylists and other consumers.
“It’s gotten so much buzz,” Crystal says. “Stylists are very trusted by the people who come to them. It’s as much a social visit as it is a service.”
Initially, the hairdryer will only be sold online and at high-end department stores.
Over the years, Crystal has had to learn, crash-course style, about a number of products. Fortunately, her journalism career trained her to keep things simple and nontechnical when talking to viewers.
“I can really hang on to facts,” Crystal says. “If I can understand it, I can communicate it.”
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