Something you may not know about the team at Well TO Do: we have a major sweet tooth and a bit of a candy obsession. But as wellness pros, we know that while delicious, sugar’s consequences (increased risk heart disease, weight gain, elevated blood pressure) far outweigh it’s brief benefits (hello, sugar high). So we were pumped to discover SmartSweets, the super-cute, super-tasty treat that eschews sugar for an all-natural, easy-to-pronounce ingredient list including coconut oil, carrot and beta carotene, and stevia. Did we mention they’re shaped like gummy bears?
We caught up with the company’s 23-year-old (yep, you read that right) founder, Tara Bosch, to find out why she started SmartSweets, what it’s like to be a young female entrepreneur, and what’s next for the guilt-free goodie company.
Well TO Do: What was the inspiration behind starting Smart Sweets?
Tara Bosch: Growing up, I developed an unhealthy relationship with food, affecting my self-esteem and body image. As I got older, it became apparent that healthy relationships in all aspects of life come from smaller, smarter choices. In a conversation with my grandmother at her kitchen table, I learned that she regretted consuming so much excess sugar over the years, especially from one of our favourite treats to enjoy together – candy. It was this conversation, coupled with my personal journey, that sparked my exploration into the shocking reality of sugar.
I learned that on any given day we consume in excess of 70 grams of sugar and Americans spend an estimated $1 trillion yearly fighting the damaging health effects of sugar, ranging from obesity to cancer. However, not one confectionery player is addressing sugar reduction in a natural way.
WTD: Take us through some of the steps you went through from idea to production.
TB: Equipped with my belief that we should feel good about enjoying the foods we love, I bought a gummy bear mold from Amazon and began recipe testing in my kitchen on a quest to create the first candy that kicks sugar. As I spent months in my kitchen working on innovating the first healthy candy, I became more passionate every day that SmartSweets would empower people to live their best life (and still be able to enjoy candy!) through giving them the choice to kick sugar. My passion was driven through the belief that we should be able to feel good about enjoying the foods we love.
WTD: Why was it important for you to create a product that allows consumers to have access to candy without the sugar?
TB: Our mission is to kick sugar, keep candy, and create a movement based on smaller, smarter choices.
Imagine being able to go to your local grocery store’s candy aisle, choose your favourite candy product and be able to actually feel good about enjoying it. SmartSweets’ vision is to be the brand delivering on creating that experience for consumers. Our gummy bears have 2g of sugar, 24g of fiber and 5g of protein per 50g pouch! The comparable amount of regular gummy bears would have 26g of sugar, which is 104% of the ideal daily recommended sugar intake recommended by the World Health Organization!
WTD: You started as an entrepreneur at a young age. Did you experience any barriers to entry based on your age?
TB: Being a young entrepreneur has been a great blessing. I think it’s important to own your idea and your confidence in the ability that you are capable of making it happen. I really think confidence is everything and key to growing an idea into a business, no matter your age. “Whether you believe you can or can’t, you’re right!” is one of my favourite quotes. When you believe you are capable and are equipped with confidence, any challenge that comes your way (whether it’s related to being young, or not) you’ll overcome. There were a few instances where I wasn’t taken seriously, but I found those people to be some of the most powerful motivators to one day be able to look back and prove them wrong!
WTD: What was your favorite candy growing up?
TB: I don’t think I had just one; anything and everything candy-related was my favourite. I was absolutely obsessed with all things candy: candy-flavoured lip glosses, candy-shaped pillows, I was a true sugar-aholic!
WTD: Which entrepreneurs (in the food space or otherwise) inspire you and why?
TB: Oprah is really inspiring to me. I learned from Oprah that our own minds are the only thing that limits or enables us to achieve absolutely anything. Her philosophy on working the hardest you can, and then letting go, acknowledging that ultimately your path will take where you’re meant to go and that there is a much larger force at work greater than ourselves, gives me a lot of peace.
WTD: You have amassed a pretty huge following for your business and yourself on Instagram. How has that helped you?
TB: We are grateful and amazed every day for each and every person that is part of the SmartSweets squad and feels so connected to our mission to kick sugar. There is no power greater than the force of a community coming together to make a positive impact in the world! Our squad is the driving force behind SmartSweets’ growth and we owe everything to them. It’s incredible to have a community at our fingertips to reach out to for inspiration, to turn to hear what new products they want us to innovate, and to learn how we can improve. We are always iterating. It’s been mind blowing to hear all the stories through social media of people passionate about kicking sugar. One dude in the states drove eight hours to Canada just to get a box of SmartSweets! How cool is that?!
WTD: What’s up next for Smart Sweets?
TB: It’s been one year since the first bag of SmartSweets hit store shelves and we have experienced rocket ship growth. We are continuing to drive innovation through the development of new products, while expanding rapidly to increase accessibility to our products on store shelves for consumers. Ultimately, I believe SmartSweets will be the global leader in innovating confectionery products that kick sugar, and a leader in the #KickSugar movement, saying no to products with excess sugar and saying yes to taking control of our health, enabling people to feel good about enjoying the foods we love!
WTD: What is exciting you right now about the wellness industry in Canada?
TB: There is no better time to be part of the wellness industry in Canada as more and more people are realizing the impact that food, specifically sugar, has on our body and are eagerly waiting for options to be innovated so they can make smaller, smarter choices in their daily lives. SmartSweets has the opportunity to make a massive impact in peoples lives. At the end of the day, it’s about being able to feel good about enjoying the foods we love, and life’s too short not to be able to eat candy every day!