At only eight years old, Gloria Dickinson is already running her own successful business, the Shining Sugar Cotton Candy Company. Gloria was inspired by her sister Dagny, who also started her own business making hand-blended tea called Tiny Tea. Listening to her sister present concepts to their parents and watching Dagny’s hard work motivated Gloria to create her own business, which includes donating a portion of every sale to a non-profit organization.
Edge: What sparked the idea to start Shining Sugar?
Dickinson: My dad and I read aloud together every morning, and one day we read the Young Entrepreneur Shoutout section in a magazine called Tuttle Times, where two sisters decided to start a cotton candy business. It took me only minutes to realize that is what I wanted to do too! For my fifth birthday party, I received a mini cotton candy machine, so I already knew how to make cotton candy at home. I thought that if I can put my love of sugar and my love of cotton candy into one business, I would be in paradise. I love the idea of getting to make something I enjoy eating and being able to sell it to others. I knew it would make people happy.
Edge: How do you prepare for sales events like the Omaha Children’s Business Fair?
Dickinson: I did lots of research on different types of cotton candy. I found a source that makes all kinds of really fun and unique flavors, and then I asked my neighbors, family, and friends which flavors they would most want to try. Next, I tried using my small cotton candy machine, but I realized it would not keep up with all of my orders. So, I decided to use my savings to buy a big commercial cotton candy machine. I drew labels for each of my special flavors, and my dad helped me make those designs on the computer for printing. I helped him do yard work to pay him for his help. My mom and dad help me make sure I have enough cotton candy in each of the bags because my hands get pretty sticky while spinning it.
Edge: What flavors do you sell?
Dickinson: My favorite holiday flavor is candy cane, but my customers also liked hot chocolate, salted caramel, and apple pie.
Edge: What’s your biggest challenge with running your own business?
Dickinson: My biggest challenge is probably time management to make sure I get enough cotton candy made for each business fair. It has to be made fresh each time. Also, I have to do a lot of math to figure out how much my supplies cost and how much to charge per bag. Plus, I have to pay back my savings account for my new machine, which will take a while. Finally, I need to make sure I have enough sugar on hand because at the Omaha Children’s Business Fair, I sold out of cotton candy!
Edge: What makes you most proud about starting Shining Sugar Cotton Candy Company?
Dickinson: I love that my cotton candy is special because it is organic and uses all natural flavors. It doesn’t have any artificial dyes or flavors in it. At the recent business fair, I loved it when moms, dads, and other kids would stop by my booth and say that normally they don’t get to have cotton candy because of the ingredients in it, but they could have mine. The kids’ faces were shining, and it made me happy.
More stories like this one can be found at Our Youth.