Paula M. Trenda
Sweet Treats for all!
Somewhere, a young child on the other side of the country is opening a box of candies. It’s a nice surprise, but because of his diabetes, he’ll only be able to have one and it will likely make him sick later. When his mother tells him they’re sugar free and he can have as many as he likes, he’ll weep openly before devouring the whole box.
Paula Trenda never planned on opening a candy shop that specializes in sugar free sweets. The original idea was more akin to that of Willy Wonkas. She wanted a gourmet candy shop like the ones she visited while traveling abroad as a trade show planner. Once you’ve tried european chocolates and caramels it’s hard to imagine a world without them. Now, it’s hard for Owatonna to imagine a world without Curly Girlz Candy.
Paula really found her sweet tooth after she took a chocolate making class on a whim while pregnant with her eldest daughter. She finished the class as a certified chocolatier and she fell head first into the dark and delicious world of fine chocolate making. Her business started in her home, before going full time in August 2014. It’s at this point she moved from an 1100 square foot space in Medford to her current 2000 square foot building on Owatonna’s Main Street. The business sold caramels, fudges, truffles, nostalgic candies, and so much more.
By 2016, the world had finally discovered that sugar wasn’t super good for you and orders were flying in with demands for sugar free candy. That's all well and good, but Paula hated the after-taste and negative health effects that come with artificial ingredients. So she used her entrepreneurial mind to study her problem and look for a solution: people want healthier candies that don’t taste like chemicals.
She responded like any savvy business woman would do and did some research. She followed researchers, nutritionists, and bloggers who’d already capitalized on the trend and taught herself how to cook like them. As of 2019, Paula has discontinued sugared candies in favor of focusing on sugar free alternatives.
Her new candies were sugar free and Keto/low carb friendly. These were extremely popular with those with type 1 and 2 diabetes, as well as those looking to follow healthy lifestyles. That line of sugar free candies put her store on the map and transformed her “ma and pa” candy store into a wholesale superstore that sells across the US and Canada.
With the support of the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF), Owatonna Area Business Development Center, MN Department of Agriculture, and the City of Owatonna Paula has won several awards out of the twin cities, transformed a previously vacant building on Owatonna’s Main Street and is on track to expand globally and into retailers within the next 5 years. Her business proves that the resources exist locally to help small businesses thrive.
Kids all over the world with diabetes can go to bed and dream of Willy Wonka's factory tonight, just like their friends, without a fear of death by a chocolate river. Isn’t that sweet?
- Authored By Jessica Beckman