When it comes to building their own candy empire, Miah and Keana Wallwin think it’s a sweet deal.
Since January, the Southdale-based sisters, aged 15 and 16 respectively, have been the owners and operators of Swirly Sweets Cotton Candy.
The enterprise started when a family friend decided to give up his cotton candy business. The J. H. Bruns Collegiate students bought the cart and the candy-making machine, inherited his client list, came up with a name, secured some business cards, created social networking pages, and haven’t looked back since.
"They’ve been doing bar mitzvahs, birthdays, weddings and barbecues, both inside and outside of their school community," said mom, Patty, noting the teens emailed many of the schools in the Louis Riel School Division to originally drum up some interest in their product.
"They also rely on word-of-mouth and people in the community. It’s a lot of fun. As their mom, I’m obviously very proud," she added.
Patty said Miah and Keana’s venture has also been an educational experience for them and is enhancing their personal development.
"It’s good for them to see how money comes and goes, how quickly money can be spent and how expenses can add up. It gives them a different perspective and it shows initiative and responsibility," Patty said.
While the teens were busy finishing up their schoolwork last month before the end of the academic year, they were also booked solid throughout the month at school barbecues. In August, they will be selling their confection at a Kildonan Place event, and come the fall the siblings expect to be working the hockey tournament circuit.
In terms of supplies, Miah and Keana — who both have their food handling certificates — use regular sugar, but pick up their flavourings, cones and bags from a specialty store.
So what flavours are on offer to their sweet-toothed customers?
"There’s grape, orange, apple, pina colada, cherry and blue raspberry," Miah said, noting the latter two flavours are probably the crowd favourites.
The younger sibling said it takes around 25 minutes to set up their workstation and a few minutes to make a bag or cone of cotton candy, adding that although the product is "really popular with kids, lots of adults like it, too. It’s kind of a treat for them."
Miah said the business has signalled a rise in their income, as well as garnering numerous requests from friends.
"Money was part of the motivation to start the business. Instead of having a regular job like everyone else, we wanted to do something different. It’s great money for our age," she said. "It’s just something fun and out of the ordinary that everybody likes, so we thought why not give it a try?"
"And our friends think it’s so cool. They are always asking for cotton candy," Miah added.
In the future, the sisters may consider branching out and selling other items, such as popcorn. But for now, they’re happy building their business one cone at a time.
For more information, visit Facebook or Twitter and search for Swirly Sweets Cotton Candy.