Alina Morse is a 13-year-old middle-schooler who lives in Michigan. She is also a successful inventor with a candy company that is breaking ground. Zolli Candy, which Alina launched when she was only 9, sells teeth-cleaning candy in the form of Zollipops, Zolli Drops and Zaffi Taffy. Alina now sells her Zolli candy at 7,500 stores in the U.S. as well as on Amazon and at Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods stores. The company is expected to sell $6 million in products this year. Alina spoke with Yahoo Lifestyle about Zolli Candy, what she wants to be when she grows up and how she balances a successful business while also tackling eighth grade.
I read that you got the idea for Zollipops when you were only 7 years old. How did you decide to actually try and make your idea happen?
I love candy and was tired of hearing “no.” I also love helping people, and when I discovered that tooth decay was the No. 1 chronic condition with children and it was a preventable, it inspired me even more to make Zolli Candy happen.
What was your first attempt at making a lollipop? What did it taste like, and how did you come up with the recipe?
I learned about the magic teeth-cleaning ingredients after asking my dentist and hygienist, “What would be good to put into lollipops to make them healthy?”
Like any kid my age, I turned to YouTube too. After watching several videos and buying ingredients online, I tried making hard candy at home in the kitchen. Wow, what a mess! Sorry, Mom.
How did you perfect the recipe?
I shared the first Zollipops with friends and family, and they did not sugarcoat anything. My suckers, well, they sucked! So, I kept experimenting with flavors and ingredients and sharing with friends for input. We are always working on new items and flavors to be the best. We are very proud that Zollipops are stable and we can now ship all over the world.
When you first started the company, did you imagine you’d be so successful?
I dreamed it, but I never imagined that Zollipops would be sold at Walmart, Kroger, and be the No. 1 lollipop on Amazon. I guess it goes to show that if you dream big, and never give up, anything is possible!
What is your favorite flavor?
They are all great! Steve Harvey’s favorite was pineapple.
What are you most proud of about Zollipops?
Where do you want to take Zollipops in the future?
To be the No. 1 healthy candy company in the world and grow the Zolli One Million Smiles initiative to One Billion Smiles.
What do you want to do next, and what do you want to be when you grow up?
Right now, I’m looking for a publisher as I want to write a book! I’m also saving for a car now — 16 is not that far away. Certainly, college is important to me, but I’m only in eighth grade. I would like to be a CEO and a singer!
How do you find time to run a company and be in middle school?
I split my time into thirds. One third for business, one third for homework and one third for extracurriculars like dance or hanging out with my sister or my friends.
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