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Hot Mess Cotton Candy Packaging & Branding

Case Study

What happens when sweet design meets spectacular chaos?



Hot Mess creates small-batch, hand-spun, kick-ass gourmet cotton candy. Started as a partnership between the Devilish Egg and Sababa Design to spread more joy and sugar to the world. Hot Mess needed kick-ass packaging and fun design to generate revenue.


Sababa Design created an identity that appeals to the inner hot mess in every adult. The packaging and collateral thrives in a hot mess world.


Identity System Design

Naming and Messaging

Graphic Design


Motion Graphics



Hot Mess started after a successful idea to attract people to an artists' competition at Sparkcon. One volunteer had a cotton candy machine and a plan to fuse the cotton candy with a unique blend of spicy herbs and extracts. After Sparkcon, I couldn't get the tentatively named 'Hotton Candy' out of my head. Why were people waiting in line 30 minutes for this cotton candy? Why did the adults like it more than the children? Would they buy more? What can I do with this idea!!


At night, I would spend my time sketching out ideas and names for the cotton candy flavor. Some names were better than others. From the original Hotton Candy to Devil Confections (derived from The Devilish Egg's involvement) to Kona Konfection (my dog's name), no idea felt right. That is until I remembered what it's like to spin cotton candy; sugar is heated and spun in a centrifuge until a sticky hot mess of sugar floss pushes through a filter. A hot mess, hmm. Short, concise, descriptive, easy to create puns and rhythms. After a quick google search for hot mess pulled an image of a young woman at a carnival eating a giant cone of cotton candy. How serendipitous, who doesn't enjoy seeing a hot mess at a party?

Next thing I knew I was brainstorming how a person could order their Hot Mess. They would see a cute little pushcart and they could order a cone. But, what if they wanted to eat it later? Next, I was head deep into packaging ideas. so I mocked up bags, and tubs of Hot Mess. Then I thought about putting goodies inside for a surprise treat. Buttons, stickers, coupon codes, and more design ideas ensued. 

Brand Attributes

HotMess Cart.jpg

Night after night I would work on ideas for Hot Mess. I didn't tell a soul until one day I approached the business with the cotton candy machine to show them my ideas. Expecting the worse, that it's a stupid idea, that it's a waste of time. I presented the idea for Hot Mess. We were invited to a vendor market in two weeks would you like to sell Hot Mess at our booth. This was the beginning of Hot Mess.

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