What once began as a hobby evolved into a full-blown international obsession.

Clarendon Hills, Ill.-based Vintage Confections makes unique and custom lollipops, which the company says has hit a sweet spot especially among Asian, particularly Chinese, customers in the United States and abroad.

Heather Kelly, the company’s founder and ceo, says she never envisioned this five years ago when she started making homemade lollipops in her kitchen to sell on Etsy, an online marketplace.

In 2010, she began experimenting with making her own lollipop moulds to satisfy customers who requested specific designs. A break came in December of that year when Martha Stewart Weddings featured her 4-inch table-number lollipops, poured from her hand-crafted moulds.

“After that, it was nothing but lollipops,” she says. More specifically, out-of-this world lollipops.

The company’s signature Planet lollipops feature candy-coated replicas of Venus, Jupiter, Mars and all the others (including Pluto and the sun) in a 10-flavor variety pack.

“It’s been a crazy phenomenon,” says Cheryl Carr, 36, Kelly’s sister and the company’s cfo. “We’ve had people come straight from the airport. Every Asian person who comes into our store says, ‘Do you know how famous you are in China?’”

Carr, who had been a stay-at-home mom, offered to help Kelly with office work since her background was in accounting, and she has since increased her involvement in the business. They moved to a retail store and commercial kitchen in Clarendon Hills in October 2012.

 “The goal is to grow as big as we can, and there really isn’t a limit,” Kelly says.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one kind of candy, what would it be?

We both like Dots for sure, has to be Dots!

What issues concern you most about the confectionery industry and why?

Brand and intellectual property theft, which we have experienced first-hand.  Being the originators of a unique product that others have replicated and held out as their own is a challenging issue.  Awareness has helped keep our brand name strong and identifiable.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

{CK} I wanted to be teacher.  I have always loved math. {HK} l always wanted to run a lemonade stand as a kid so now it seems like I am just doing a bigger and better version of that.

What is your pet peeve?

People that don’t think outside of the box, it’s important to keep innovating or you really miss that lightning in the bottle moment.

If given the chance to choose anyone, whom would you like to collaborate with?

Mark Cuban. Creative ideas are plentiful but the intellect of a savvy business mind would be priceless.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

It’s not a question of CAN it be done, it’s HOW can we do it.