Alina Morse: the teenager who made a million

Fourteen-year-old Alina Morse created Zollipops, her sugar-free confectionery company, out of her desire for treats that wouldn't rot her teeth.

Inside the plain-looking headquarters of multimillion-dollar confectionery company Zollipops there is a corner office decorated with “sparkling pink dance trophies, paintings of smiling suns and construction-paper family trees”, says Lakshmi Varanasi in Entrepreneur. The artwork, and the office, belongs to the company’s founder and CEO, 14-year-old Alina Morse. Zollipops, which sells sugar-free lollies and other sweets, was born out of Morse’s desire for treats that wouldn’t “rot her teeth”, as her father had warned her after she had been offered one on their way out of a bank. 

After two years of online research and home testing, Morse used $3,750 (saved from birthday and holiday presents over the years) to start her company, with a matching investment from her father, says Julia Curley on Today.com. After travelling to various manufacturing plants to get her product made and packaged, she pitched it to Whole Foods. The chain became her first stockist, and she sold 70,000 Zollipops in the first year of business. 

Zollipops are sweetened with a combination of natural sweeteners such as xylitol and erythritol, which studies have found to reduce plaque and oral bacteria. Today, the Zollipop is the third best-selling lollipop on Amazon, surpassing classic American brands such as Dum Dums and Tootsie Pops, says Jon Miltimore on Fee.org. They are sold in around 25,000 major retailers in the US, including Whole Foods, Walgreens, Walmart and Kroger. Annual sales were $6m in 2018.

Morse’s entrepreneurial spirit was encouraged by her parents. Her father gave her the top-selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which taught her she could “create a company, but with a mission”. While overseeing her company and manufacturing what she calls the world’s first healthy sweets, Morse still tries to live a balanced life. Between pitching Zollipops to national retailers and approving packaging, she goes to school and dance class, and still finds time to see her friends. 

Recommended

Yvon Chouinard: The billionaire “dirtbag” who's giving it all away
People

Yvon Chouinard: The billionaire “dirtbag” who's giving it all away

Outdoor-equipment retailer Yvon Chouinard is the latest in a line of rich benefactors to shun personal aggrandisement in favour of worthy causes.
6 Oct 2022
Johann Rupert: the Warren Buffett of luxury goods
People

Johann Rupert: the Warren Buffett of luxury goods

Johann Rupert, the presiding boss of Swiss luxury group Richemont, has seen off a challenge to his authority by a hedge fund. But his trials are not o…
26 Sep 2022
Six mistakes to avoid when starting a business
Small business

Six mistakes to avoid when starting a business

Around 60% of new businesses fail within three years, says David Prosser. Here, he outlines six key pitfalls to avoid when starting a business.
21 Sep 2022
The rise of Gautam Adani, Asia’s richest man
People

The rise of Gautam Adani, Asia’s richest man

India’s Gautam Adani started working life as an exporter and hit the big time when he moved into infrastructure. Political connections have been usefu…
23 Aug 2022

Most Popular

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?
Personal finance

Is it cheaper to leave the heating on low all day?

The weather is getting colder and energy bills are rising, but is it really cheaper to leave the heating on low all day or should you only turn it on …
1 Dec 2022
Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?
Personal finance

Fan heater vs oil heater – which is cheaper?

Sales of portable heaters have soared, as households look to cut their energy costs. But which is better: a fan heater or an oil heater? We put them t…
21 Nov 2022
UK house prices fall at their fastest pace since 2020
House prices

UK house prices fall at their fastest pace since 2020

UK house prices fell 1.4% in November, their biggest fall since June 2020.
1 Dec 2022