How a 9-year-old Girl Built a Thriving Sugar-Free Candy Business (and What You Can Learn From Her)

How a 9-year-old Girl Built a Thriving Sugar-Free Candy Business (and What You Can Learn From Her)

The story about a 9 year old entrepreneur

Who hasn’t had a lollipop? Those sweet, hard candies on a stick that have been around since the early 1900s. They never go out of style but they do lead to tooth decay if you’re not careful. When 7-year-old Alina Morse got the idea to create a sugar-free lollipop alternative, she didn’t stop until she reached her goal.

If you’re a teen and you’ve ever thought of starting your own business, then this inspiring story is for you. Discover how she did it and what you can learn from her.

It all started when Alina was handed a lollipop at her local bank that she visited with her dad. Her dad urged her not to eat it because sugar leads to tooth decay. Frustrated, she thought to herself, “Why can’t we make a lollipop that’s actually good for your teeth?”

And the idea was born. 

Over the next couple of years, Alina experimented with different candy recipes in her kitchen in between school and sports. 

Eventually, when she was 9, she landed on a recipe that she wanted to start manufacturing. Her dad helped her with the initial investment coupled with her saved birthday and holiday money. From there they went to a manufacturing plant in Michigan that would produce and package her candy at scale.

Zollipops first hit the shelves in 2014 and are a vegan, all-natural, sugar-free candy. Alina quickly became known as the “lollipop girl.”

Alina says that she started her business to help people enjoy their sweets without the harmful loads of sugar.

Tooth decay is one of the most chronic diseases in children in the United States. When Alina discovered this, she pivoted her mission to bringing sugar-free Zollipops to the classrooms of millions. The movement is called the Million Smiles Initiative and they’ve already given away 2 million Zollipops. Their goal is to hit 22 million, which equals the number of public school children in America. 

Alina is now 17 years old as of 2022 and her candy is sold online and in about 25,000 stores worldwide and was the youngest person ever to be featured on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine at the age of 13.

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So what can we learn from Alina’s success as a teen entrepreneur?

1. Creativity and innovation pave the way for new ideas

Even as a 7-year-old, Alina knew a good idea when she saw it. She noticed a problem (lollipops that lead to tooth decay) and had an idea to fix it (design sugar-free lollipops). Brilliant ideas can come out of nowhere. Try keeping an idea journal and logging all your innovative ideas in there. You can also ask friends and family what problems they face regularly. What ideas do you have for solving those problems? 

2. Resilience is what sets those who succeed apart from those who give up

Building a business is no small feat. It can feel like you’re climbing up a never-ending mountain. Those who keep climbing though? They always reach the summit. Alina was one of them. Despite being young she had grit. Grit is the ability to be resilient in the face of adversity and it’s the secret ingredient to every entrepreneur’s success. 

3. Your passion is the fuel for any successful business

One of the most powerful driving forces for anyone looking to make a difference in the world is a passion and desire to help others. This is how the seed of Zollipops blossomed into a full-fledged forest of impact and profitability. When you’re passionate about your mission and your company, you’re more likely to persevere in times of hardship, network with people who share similar initiatives, and stay motivated throughout your wacky and wild journey as an entrepreneur. 

Are you a teen thinking of becoming your own boss someday? Learn 5 things you can do right now to prepare yourself for entrepreneurship and hit the ground running.


You’re never too young to pursue your passions. You’re never too young to start a business that improves the lives of others. Alina has shown us that it’s possible, even as a teenager, to achieve your dreams if you have the resilience, passion, and creativity to take you there.

In one article by Money.com, Alina said, “It doesn’t matter how old you are, where you’re from, what you’re doing,” she noted. “All that matters is that you want to do it and that you are passionate about it, and that you are going to do everything in your power to help make the world a better place.”

Get the 6 step guide kids use to learn how to be an entrepreneur

Your child will be guided to develop entrepreneurial mindsets and leverage their unique skills to make a positive impact by building valuable products.


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