Alina Morse is one lucky girl. She has visited the White House not once but twice, and never as a tourist. Each time, she was an official guest, personally invited by none other than First Lady Michelle Obama.
The enterprising Wolverine Lake, Mich., native presented the one and only candy at this year’s White House Easter Egg Roll — a special treat she invented when she was just seven, with help from her dad, Tom (the co-creator of 5-Hour Energy).
Her sweets are fruit-flavored lollipops that her little sister, Lola, named Zollipops. There’s something unusual about them: They’re sweetened with a blend of xylitol, maltitol syrup, beetroot juice and stevia — not with sugar.
“I love candy,” Alina tells Entrepreneur, “but I always knew it was bad for my teeth so that’s why I created Zollipops. So I asked, ‘Why can’t we make a lollipop that’s delicious and good for your teeth?’”
She did just that in 2014, when she started up her company using $7,500 of savings from her grandparents. Soon, she took to the road to promote her candy creation, available in-store at Whole Foods and SuperValu and online on Amazon. She’s even pitched Shark Tank celeb investor Daymond John on Good Morning America and appeared on NBC News.
On a roll ever since, the fifth-grader introduced her second product, Zolli Drops sugar-free peppermints, earlier this year. On top of providing a teeth-friendly alternative to sugary suckers, Alina donates more than 10 percent of her profits to organizations dedicated to reducing the impact of childhood tooth decay. Now that’s something sweet to smile about.
Alina’s favorite part of being a kidpreneur:
“The most fun thing about being a kidpreneur and working on Zollipops is that I get to travel, meet lots of people and see lots of places. All around the world, we share Zollipops with many people and brighten their smiles!”