Leah Allen, an Austinite, learned how to make lollipops from her mom when she was in junior high. Back then, it got her suspended from school. Now, it’s paying her bills during CO-VID.
CoffeeColumnist (CC): What made you want to start your business?
Leah Allen (LA): My regular day job is as a classical vocal instructor–I have a master’s in vocal performance, and I almost have my doctorate.
When your regular job is a creative job, it just becomes like a job, and you lose that creative outlet feeling. So, I started making lollipops and experimenting with flavors.
That’s kind of how I started. I made them for a friend, and they were like, “you should sell these,” so I opened a little Etsy shop and began to get sales.
CC: Was there anything else that inspired you aside from wanting that creative outlet?
LA: At the time, no. My mom is the one that taught me how to make lollipops when I was in junior high, and I sold them at school. I ended up getting in big trouble because people were spending their lunch money on lollipops, and I got suspended.
The principal was like, “you have an entrepreneurial spirit, go you. Now you’re suspended, don’t do it again.”
CC: What was your start up process?
LA: I started by buying a couple of flavors you know and then just making them–adding decorations, playing with color, and playing different kinds of swirling techniques. I really started adding flavors little by little on my Etsy.
Then a business ordered my lollies to put in their orders, and all of a sudden, I like blew up overnight. I was doing like $200 a month and feeling pretty good about that little bit of extra income.
CC: What kind of ingredients do you use?
LA: I make my lollies by hand. I use cane sugar, filtered water, cream of tartar, and glucose. That’s it. Well, and then flavorings and colorings, but that’s it. So all of my lollies are gluten-free, and every single one is vegan.
CC: How do you come up with flavor ideas?
LA: I have almost 200 flavorings at home. I look at my list and start putting flavors together. The “Salted Caramel Apple” is a best seller and “Movie Night” is another bestseller. I’m known online for my salted lollipops because they’re ah-mazing.
Now, I usually have eight or so salted lollipops per season. I rotate between 36 flavors every season.
CC: How do you come up with your themes for your monthly sets?
LA: I base them on things such as international days or seasonal sets. A while back I did a dragon drink which was popular and people were asking for it to come back, so I brought it back for International Coffee Day.
This weekend I’m launching a Harry Potter set of lollies and the weekend after that (October 17th & 18th) I’m launching a Tim Burton set for the Halloween season. Then on October 24th, I’m launching traditional Halloween candy-inspired lollies.
CC: How can people order from you?
LA: My website is lolliesbyleah.com but I also have a monthly subscription box on Cratejoy called TheLollyBox. I do custom orders as well, but an average custom order requires a 2-3 week turnaround and I prefer to be contacted via Instagram for custom orders.
For custom orders, you can contact Leah on Instagram at @LolliesByLeah. To purchase current themes such as the Harry Potter set, check out LolliesByLeah.com. For a monthly surprise, you can purchase TheLollyBox on Cratejoy.
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This post is sponsored by Lollies By Leah.