Alina Morse, founder of Zolli Candy, was seven years old when she went to the bank with her dad and the teller offered her a lollipop. “My parents always told me that sugar was terrible for my teeth. I declined the teller’s offer and asked ‘Why can’t we make healthy candy?’ I asked a hundred more times, and after lots of experiments and trials, we created Zollipops.”
Zolli Candy is zero sugar, vegan, allergy-friendly, gluten-free, made with natural flavors, no artificial colors and helps clean your teeth. After nine years, Zollipops are the number one fastest-growing, zero-sugar candy sold on Amazon, as well as sold in 25,000 stores across America and internationally in nine countries.
Zolli Candy faced many challenges early on in the business, using strategically focused problem solving skills to push through. When the business had issues with their lollipops being unstable and melting, they developed innovative strategies for formulating Zollipops. Today, Zollipops can ship in sea containers to Asia during the summertime; shipping containers can be so hot they melt many items, but not Zolli Candy. Their team believes this challenge helped make the team stronger and drove them to find a way to make a better product. Now, they feel prepared to solve any challenge that comes their way.
The company received coaching from Edward Lowe Foundation and MEDC-sponsored programs. Thanks to the MEDC’s help, Zolli Candy was able to advance their marketing, operations and recruiting strategies. By narrowing down their target market and analyzing data, the MEDC and Edward Lowe Foundation assisted in developing processes to identify current and prospective customers. Zolli Candy created business processes and production time management with the help of experts through MEDC connections. The team was also provided resources to access training grants to train and certify employees, and improve knowledge and capabilities of the team.
“The MEDC has offered guidance in market research, process development, recruiting strategies and has helped make Zolli better!"
Zolli Candy is also a cause-based business that created and supports the Million Smiles Initiative 501c3. This charity focuses on oral care education and entrepreneurship in schools across the United States. The Million Smiles Initiative was founded by Zolli Candy after about one year of business, sparked from efforts to educate students about dental health and entrepreneurship by working with teachers to share design processes in action. Zolli Candy contributes 10% of its profits to this 501c3, and the charity has grown from reaching 250,000 to 4 million students.
Zolli Candy has several new items they are launching, including Zolli Gummeez, Zolli Gum Pops and Zolli Caramelz. Their mission is to be the number one zero-sugar, functional candy in the world. The business has plans to continue working with the MEDC for manufacturing, facilities and more. Their team believes the key to success is asking questions, building an amazing team and being tenacious. Zolli Candy hopes to spread the message that age is just a number – Alina Morse is proof that youth can do great things with the right support.
To access resources and connections that will help grow your business through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, visit michiganbusiness.org/services or contact MEDC for personalized business assistance.