Preparing Small Businesses for Big Success

Paula Trenda of Curly Girlz Candy at the 2017 FEAST! Local Foods Marketplace.

As Minnesota prepares to host the biggest game of the year, we want to take a moment to celebrate one of our own southern Minnesota entrepreneurs who will be featuring their product at the upcoming Super Bowl. Paula Trenda of Curly Girlz Candy in Owatonna will be bringing toffee and caramels to the big game. 

Trenda applied to be a vendor through the Super Bowl LII Business Connect program which connects a diverse range of Minnesota businesses with contracting opportunities at the Super Bowl and related events. Curly Girlz Candy has donated more than 100 of the 2 ounce bags of their new no-sugar-added milk chocolate almond toffee to the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee to be included in gift baskets that will be delivered to the team owners, media, and other VIPs. “We are also an NFL Tailgate Party vendor and will be providing 3,000 pieces of our award-winning sea salt caramels for this event,” says Trenda. “We are really excited to get people from around the country to taste our fresh, local candies.”

Curly Girlz Candy is a Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) loan client and has been active in many of our programs for entrepreneurs. Trenda has grown her business exponentially with the assistance of SMIF’s Small Enterprise Loan Program. “It’s been a very easy process,” says Trenda. “We didn’t have a ton of collateral to put down for a traditional loan, so this has helped us get the equipment we needed and the payment terms were very simple for us.” Curly Girlz Candy specializes in retail and wholesale candy sales and has found a niche in making natural, preservative-free candies, including “keto-friendly” candies, utilizing locally-sourced ingredients whenever possible. “The loan program has also allowed us to chat with a QuickBooks expert on SMIF's staff, and their support has helped us move into our larger facility, which we are expanding again.”

In addition to being a loan client, Trenda is a member of one of our Local Foods Peer Councils. This group meets once per month to discuss business issues relevant to the local foods industry and to hear guest speakers talk about their experience as business owners. Each month, participants choose “Fast Burns” – any issue or challenge they currently face in their business that they would like to get insight and perspective on from other members. “Working with the Peer Network at SMIF has helped us increase our exposure to local products to use in the creation of our candies,” says Trenda.

Curly Girlz Candy was also chosen as one of fifteen local food businesses to participate in SMIF’s FEAST! Smart Start Initiative, supported by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and in partnership with Renewing the Countryside. “[This program] offered us the ability to attend some executive training sessions that we wouldn’t have otherwise taken because of the cost.” Trenda receives six months of free one-on-one coaching and mentoring from experts in the areas where she needs assistance.

We look forward to seeing how this connection with the Super Bowl opens new doors for Curly Girlz Candy. “We are confident that our candies in the VIP baskets and at the pre-game event will bring about new avenues for future partnerships both in Minnesota and with businesses and customers throughout the US," says Trenda. "Without the loan support from SMIF and additional business marketing support, we wouldn’t have learned of this opportunity.” 

SMIF offers a variety of services for all entrepreneurs. To learn more about SMIF’s offerings visit our economic development page.

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