Toronto business run by mom and daughters sells exclusive candy popular on TikTok
Candy made popular on TikTok has been selling out in local stores, which gave one mom and her daughters aged eight and 11 the idea to start a business boxing up exclusive treats.
The result is Treatz Plz, but mom Tammy Vinokur says she never would have had the opportunity to build the business with her children Zoey (11) and Lexi (eight) had it not been for the pandemic.
"We would not have had the opportunity to build this business had we not been forced to stay home together as a family," Vinokur tells blogTO. "90 per cent of the products we sell are inspired by my children."
In August 2020, the girls wanted to have fun creating a candy platter for their cousin. When Vinokur posted a photo of it to Facebook, she was surprised by the positive response with people asking if they could get platters of their own.
From there, it wasn't a stretch for Vinokur to apply her background in marketing and over a decade of teaching high school business to helping her kids create a brand name, logo, Instagram page, website and packaging.
In January, Zoey (who was only 10 at the time) had the idea to package all the candy that had been rendered difficult to find by its popularity on TikTok — think Slime Licker, Nerd Rope, Jelly Fruit, Jelly Straws, Blue Sour-Patch Kids, Takis, Efruitti Pizza, Nik-L-Nip wax bottles and Twin Snakes — into one box, sourcing it in bulk from different suppliers.
The box sells for $45, and is can be purchased online for curbside pickup, delivery or to be shipped.
200 of the boxes were sold within one week of launching, with customers contacting them from all over North America.
The fledgling business even had to face copycats, and Zoey decided she needed to up the ante, putting together their most challenging box yet, containing both viral candy and fidget toys. It was one of the first times Vinokur expressed skepticism, worried they wouldn't be able to sell all their product.
"Zoey reassured me many times and said, 'Mommy, trust me, everybody wants this stuff,'" says Vinokur.
She was right: the box sold out within 48 hours, just like the original TikTok box, which continues to hold steady in sales. For example, 400 sold on Valentine's weekend alone.
There were more personal challenges, too, when it came to running a business as a family out of their home, not the least of which was allowing the girls only one small treat per day while they're essentially living in a candy store.
"There are some days when we're exhausted and want to call it quits because we just want to have a lazy day. There are also times when we are super busy and not everybody is pulling their weight. At one point Zoey fired Lexi from the business for not pulling her weight. Lexi had to re-interview for her position," says Vinokur.
"I also know at times that my husband wants his 'old house back' but at the end of the day, we all know that this business has been really good for our mental health and keeping us all connected."
Treatz Plz is continuing to look for ways to stay fresh and come up with new ideas, with Zoey and Lexi staying up to date on current TikTok trends.
So far, they've learned how to keep track of revenue and expenses, price compare, and build an income statement, and have also collaborated with influencers on social media for giveaways and promotions.
"I really think that kids need to start learning real-life business skills earlier. Why are we waiting until they are in high school? Why not give kids a head start and teach them these imperative skills while they are young and eager to learn?" says Vinokur.
"They have pretty much learned the entire grade ten Ontario business curriculum throughout the last seven months and they are only in grades three and five."
Not only have they learned how to make spreadsheets, they're involved in every aspect of the business including being hands-on as part of an assembly line building boxes (sometimes until late at night around holidays) and managing the Instagram and replying to messages.
"What I really hope my girls take away from this experience is to learn to have confidence in their decisions. As a working mother, I have really tried to model what hard work entails. I want my girls to see that it's important to work hard for the things that you want," says Vinokur.
"Whatever ends up happening with this little business, I just hope that my girls can look back on this experience and feel proud of what they have accomplished."
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