537
8 min 43 sec

Brooklyn App Developer Spins All-Natural Cotton Candy

A mobile app developer gets nostalgic and creates an all-natural cotton candy catering biz.
Food Partnership Product Unique Ideas

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What It's About

A sweet side hustle that's as light as air!

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Creativity & Experimentation
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

One piece of advice that Alisha had for future side hustlers is to master the cold email and follow-up. So many of their successes started with a simple email that they sent to potential collaborators! They made sure to keep their emails short and sweet so that they could convey the value of their business without taking up too much of the other person’s time.

Fun Fact

Who introduced cotton candy to the world? A dentist—Dr. William Morrison of Nashville to be specific. In 1897, he and candy maker John C. Wharton invented a device that melted sugar and blew it through a fine screen to create “Fairy Floss.” He introduced it at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and sold 68,000 boxes for 25¢ each ($6.75 in today’s money). Personally, I think it was a ploy to bring in more cavities...

Notes from Chris

Episode 537
Alisha Vimawala isn’t new to the world of side hustling. Not only is she a full-time product manager for Fueled, an app development agency in New York City, but she also has a successful dance-related YouTube Channel and a published children’s book. But her latest hustle is more colorful and flavorful than all the rest.

In late 2015, Alisha was hanging out with her friend and fellow YouTube side hustler, Margaret Taormina, when the two started playing with a toy cotton candy maker Margaret had received for Christmas. It didn’t take long for them to come up with an idea: all-natural cotton candy catering.

The rest of the holiday went by, but neither Alisha nor Margaret could get the idea out of their head. As soon as January slowed down, they started experimenting with flavors.

They began by ordering some sample materials online: pure herbal extracts, plant-based colors, and specialty sugars. It quickly became clear that, while it would be cheaper to use artificial flavoring, using the natural stuff led to a much higher quality product. [Plus, as a bonus, you wouldn’t die when you ate it.]

The cotton candy they made not only had a crisp and clear flavor, but its light and fluffy texture made each taste like taking a bite out of the sky—not sticky or gooey. Just a couple months into this initial R&D phase, Alisha and Margaret had their first four flavors: mint, citrus, lavender, and rose.

And then a call came. A close friend had access to an incredible opportunity: the Juilliard Annual Alumni Benefit. This was it. This was their chance to test their flavors, see if demand was really there, and get their name out there for the first time.

Alisha and Margaret are looking at opening up their own storefront for Not Your Average Cotton in New York City. They’re using a service called “PopShop” to find short-term pop-up opportunities while they look for investors. Despite the several equipment upgrades, event and regulatory fees, and all those all-natural ingredients, Not Your Average Cotton is profitable and debt-free. Let’s not sugarcoat it: starting a modern-day food product that plays on nostalgia is hardly taking candy from a baby, but the sweet reward is worth it.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Not Your Average Cotton: Take a bite out of Alisha and Margaret's all-natural cotton candy—learn more over on their website!


SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Start something, even if you don’t feel ready. We learned so much from each of our different pop-ups that we wouldn’t have figured out without actually experiencing it."
—Alisha Vimawala #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau