Meet Paula M Even-Trenda, the founder and CEO of Curly Girlz Candy Inc., who has combined the health with taste through her chocolates and candies.
Forty-nine and a single mom to two teenage girls, when Paula took the leap of faith and opened up her retail gourmet-chocolate store, little did she know that she would win people’s hearts in such a short time. Paula created a business around her passion for healthier living through foods and today, she is the owner of a fast-growing company that changes more every year.
Spending her twenties exploring the world through her job as a Convention and Meeting Planner, Paula experienced exciting cultures and exotic tastes. Checking out local bakeries and chocolate shops became her permanent ritual while on work-related tours. After getting married in her early thirties, and getting a job as the business manager of her local church, Paula wanted more from her life. For her, learning and exploring new things never stopped and that is what made her sign up for a class in chocolate-making. She started making treats for friends and family after becoming a certified chocolatier, but took the big plunge in 2014, quitting her full-time job and investing her life savings in opening a retail chocolate shop.
Her store, Curly Girlz Candy, specializes in handcrafted, gourmet-candy that satisfies all sweet-cravings without sacrificing one’s health, diet, or lifestyle. In her words, “Our candy is 100% of the Indulgence with 0% of the Guilt. Offering keto and diabetic friendly candies fill a niche missing for those who choose not to eat sugar or can’t due to health reasons, but still want a sweet treat.”
Talking about her idea of creating specialized, sugar-free candy without artificial sweeteners like Maltitol or Sucralose, she says, “Traditional chocolates are everywhere. Each place has its specialties. I had searched a lot, but I hadn’t found a bar of good sugar-free chocolate I was willing to sell. So, I decided to make one myself. I worked with some Keto nutritionists and created my own line of sugar-free candies for those who cannot afford to eat sugar due to health-related reasons”.
Paula’s candies receive exemplary reviews on quality, taste, and customer service regularly, but her journey to success was not without difficulties. Recalling the initial days of her struggle, she elaborates, “Financing was a big issue. Even with strong financials, banks are hesitant to fund small, woman-owned businesses. In addition to monetary issues, finding quality staff in a small community like mine was a struggle too”. Despite the struggle, Paula is happy and satisfied by living her passion and fulfilling her dreams. The idea has allowed her to be creative and she considers it to be a rewarding experience.
Curly Girlz Candy’s sales are expanding and their consumers constantly shower them with love. They were named the 2020 SBA Small Business Person of the year in Minnesota, and have also won the Ignite Cup in 2018 (a pitch competition). In addition to these laurels, Candy Girlz Candy has also been a 2-time semi-finalist for the MN Cup (a MN start-up competition)!
Paula preaches to follow one’s dream. She says, “There will always be someone who thinks you will fail (and wants you to) but if you believe in yourself, your products, and have faith that you are following God’s plan for your life, you will be successful. Be passionate. Be Energetic. Be Your Own Cheerleader. Keep The Faith. It won’t always be easy but it is worth it.”