Like most children, Alina Morse of Wolverine Lake, Michigan, grew up loving candy. What she didn’t love were the constant reminders that her favorite treats were unhealthy. But Alina has always been a problem-solver with a proclivity for innovative thinking. So, she turned her sweet tooth into a brilliant solution for other kids like her.
It started when the 7-year-old took a trip to the bank with her dad, Tom. The teller offered her a lollipop, but she turned it down after Tom warned it was bad for her teeth. That gave her an idea. Why can’t candy be good for your teeth? She decided then and there that she’d be the one to create it.
At nine, the little girl began experimenting with different ingredients. She watched countless candy-making videos on YouTube, talked to her dentist, and even consulted with a food scientist! Finally, she found the perfect combination with a replacement for sugar: a natural sweetener called xylitol.
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The result? Sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten free lollipops — or as Alina calls them, Zollipops. Not only are they tasty, but they actually clean teeth!
With a product she could stand behind, Alina used the $3,750 she’d saved from birthday and holiday presents and started her company, Zolli Candy, with her dad. They sold 70,000 Zollipops in the first year alone.
Now, at 14, Alina is the CEO of a multi-million-dollar company. She’s also the youngest person to be featured on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine. And when it comes to oral health, she puts her money where her mouth is. Ten percent of the company’s profits go toward its Million Smiles Initiative, an education program dedicated to helping children prevent tooth decay.
Business has only grown over the years, and the company has since added new products, including “Zolli Drops” and “Zaffi Taffy.” By 2018, Zollipops were the best-selling sugar-free hard candy on Amazon and the second best-selling lollipop. Candy sales totaled $6 million that year. Today, they can be found at major retailers as well, including Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger, Target, and Walgreens.
With a business-savvy brain like hers, we can’t wait to see how Alina will change the world, one lollipop at a time. You go, girl!
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