“I love Women’s Day because it celebrates female entrepreneurs, and being part of that community is a huge honor,” Zollipops founder Alina Morse tells Yahoo Beauty.
Alina, a sixth-grader in Wolverine Lake, Mich., is like any other kid — she loves to dance, sing, and act. But unlike most kids, she understands that candy is bad for her teeth. So in 2013, she decided to create a healthier version of lollipops, her favorite treat. Zollipops are GMO-free and don’t contain sugar or gluten. Even better, they actually reduce the risk of tooth decay by raising a person’s pH levels (the scale used to measure acidity or basicity in the mouth). Zollipops contain the sugar alternatives erythritol, xylitol, and stevia and come in cherry, strawberry, raspberry, orange, pineapple, and grape flavors.
On Wednesday, Alina revealed new updates to Zollipops: They now have a shelf life that’s three times longer than the previous version and a lower glycemic response, which helps satiate hunger.
The tween concocted the idea for the lollipops one day after accompanying her father to the bank. “The teller offered me a lolly, and my dad said that candy will rot my teeth,” says Alina. “I asked him, ‘Why can’t I make candy that’s good for my teeth?”
To get her business off the ground, Alina turned to her entrepreneur father and her mother, who works in sales and marketing. “Since I’m a kid, I need help with lots of things,” she explains. “This was a $7,500 investment, and I had a little less than half of that because I saved all the money I was given for birthdays and holidays.” The rest of the funds came from her parents and grandparents.
However, Alina’s sister takes credit for naming the product. “After we had our first batch of lollipops that we did trials for, I asked my 5-year-old sister if she wanted a xylitol lollipop. She said, ‘Do you mean a zollipop?’”
Today, Zollipops are sold on Amazon and in Whole Foods, Toys R Us, and most recently, the grocery store Kroger. Zollipops were also the only candy served at the White House’s annual Easter Egg Roll in 2016. According to her dad, Tom Morse, the Zollipops business more than doubled 2016, and the company is expected to earn between $1 million and $2 million in 2017.
Alina isn’t just the face of the brand — she attends middle school by day and works on the business at night and on weekends. “Alina does big-picture thinking, works on packaging, and has attended candy trade shows in New Orleans and Germany,” her mom, Sue Morse, tells Yahoo Beauty.
Next up for Alina: On Thursday, she’s announcing the launch of Zaffi Taffy, a taffy treat that contains the same ingredients as Zollipops. However, despite her success, Alina is serious about school, saying, “I love doing my math and science homework.”
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