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A Sweet Dream Come True

A Sweet Dream Come True
May 09
00:00 2013

Girl, 9, opens downtown store

candy insertNine year-old Elasya “Bird” Jessup is downtown Winston-Salem’s newest entrepreneur.

Elasya, a third grader at Kirkman Park Elementary in High Point, has parlayed her notorious sweet tooth into a successful business venture, first at a kiosk at Hanes Mall, and now, with Elasya B’s Candy Tree, a Fourth Street sweets shop that opened its doors last week.

It all started with a doll.

“I wanted to get an American Girl doll,” Elasya explained. “It cost $100 and they (her parents) didn’t want to pay for it.”

So Elasya took matters into her own hands. Inspired by the treats she had enjoyed at the Dixie Classic Fair not long before, she began to go door to door in her neighborhood, selling candy apples to raise money for the doll. Her older sister, Aria, was student-teaching at Whitaker Elementary at the time, and Elasya set up a booth at the school’s fall festival. The apples were so popular that Elasya and her parents, Shannon and Shannon Jessup, began taking orders and delivering them to the school each Friday. The family opened the kiosk at Hanes Mall on November 26, 2012. Business there took off immediately.

“We sold $150 (worth) the first day, and then every day from there on, it went up,” commented Mrs. Jessup, a registered nurse.
The family sold more than $10,000 in candy apples before closing the kiosk in January to pursue a free standing store, she said. Meeting the ever-growing demand of mall shoppers required an all hands on deck approach. Elasya’s parents and sister all pitched in to keep the kiosk stocked and running while she was at school. Mrs. Jessup even took a five-week leave from work to help maintain the ever-growing business.

“We were sleeping two or three hours a day,” she related. “We’d be up until three, four o’clock in the morning (making apples).”

Her father, the pastor of Second New Bethel Church, mans the new store during the day and makes the bulk of its offerings, which have expanded to include cotton candy, boxed candy, gourmet pretzel pops, more than 20 flavors of candy apples, and the shop’s signature candy trees – decadent bouquets of wrapped candy that Elasya creates herself.
“I love it – it’s fun,” Mr. Jessup said. “I get to use a bit of my creativity in making the apples and coming up with other ideas and concepts for snacks.”
The “B” in the shop name represents Elasya’s nickname, “Bird,” which she acquired as an infant.

“When I was a little baby, I used to do this,” she explained, pursing her lips into a remarkably birdlike pout.
Refraining from eating up all her inventory has been one of the most challenging aspects of the job, Elasya said.
“It’s fun but a tiny bit tough because I can’t eat none of my products,” she remarked.

candy family

Elasya (front) poses with her family (from left) Austen, Shannon, Shannon and Aria Jessup.

The whole family, Elasya’s 16 year-old brother Austen included, pitched in to get the storefront in the Loewy Building at 500 West Street ready for business. Elasya provided input for the shop’s black and white floors and whimsical pink and green color scheme. Including pink was a must, she said, because it’s her favorite color.

“I feel like it’s really adorable and cute,” she said of the shop, which will include indoor and outdoor customer seating in the future.
Needless to say, Elasya got her American Girl doll. She woke up Christmas morning to find it under her tree.

“I got out of my room and started peeking, and I started screaming,” she recalled.

Elasya now has her sights set on an iPhone.

The moral of the story?

“You always have to work for stuff instead of letting your parents pay for it,” Elasya said.

“We went from chief financial officers to employees,” her mother quipped with a chuckle.

State Sen. Earline Parmon, whose office is also in the building, was among Elasya’s first customers when the shop opened on Friday. The offices she occupies might someday become a part of the shop if all goes well, as the family is already making plans to expand.

“I tell them all the time,” said Mrs. Jessup, a city native. “We’re going to have a chocolate factory, and we’re all going to be happy.”

Elasya B’s Candy Tree will celebrate its Grand Opening on Saturday, May 11 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m.

The event will feature cake, drawings and giveaways. Current store hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. For more information, visit www.elasyabcandytree.com.

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Layla Garms

Layla Garms

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