TikTok saved my business: Candy retailer finds internet fame as COVID-19 forces a pivot

It took an epidemic for Nema Causey, the top of a candy retailer, to get that she was sitting on a viral internet goldmine.https://www.digitrama.com/

Even before the planet Health Organization officially declared the COVID-19 crisis an epidemic in early March, Causey noticed that orders were beginning to dry up at Candy Me Up, her San Diego-based business that focuses on selling sweets to retail clients to be used in events like candy buffets.Digital Marketing Company

“I was tripping out because I never fail in business,” said Causey, 33, who “hustled” candy to classmates back in secondary school then started a candy-catering company at age 18 that served because the eventual inspiration for her current business. “I was 99% sure we were getting to pack up ,” she told MarketWatch, as her storefront began taking an enormous hit in February.

Candy runs in Causey’s veins as her father, an Iraqi immigrant, ran a business selling Jackson pins, pocket brushes, and eventually candy bars to local convenience stores. When he became ill, the youngsters opened their own divisions of the corporate , with Causey that specialize in a storefront that sold candy primarily to retail clients.

A slowdown in orders within the youth of COVID-19 made her realize that the corporate needed a modern-day twist, however, so she made a TikTok account for it.

As it clothed , the Candy Me Up storefront had the makings of a modern-day Willy Wonka paradise, replete with emoji piñatas, bright decor, and rows upon rows of candy. Causey and her brother Jonny Hallak, who focuses on the distribution a part of their father’s original candy business, began filming themselves riding through the sugar-filled aisles and guzzling gummy candies. They also piggybacked onto the “Jelly Fruit challenge,” a viral trend that involved using only their mouths to open jelly candies wrapped in food-grade plastic.

Kids were eating it up, YouTube GOOGL, -0.45% influencers took notice, and Causey realized she had a business opportunity on her hands: She ordered a pallet of 1,200 Jelly Fruits and opened a web store for the primary time.

“TikTok is that the one that basically , truly saved our business,” Causey told MarketWatch. She originally worried that Jelly Fruits were a fad, but she quickly sold out of the primary pallet then went through 10 more, additionally to hawking other trendy sweets.

Prophetic advice

At first it seemed that one among Causey’s biggest entrepreneurial icons had some tough love for business owners in her shoes.

She began tuning in to Instagram FB, -0.17% Live sessions with Marcus Lemonis of the tv show “The Profit” and initially got the impression that he was suggesting businesses that lost money last year should close given the pandemic. Candy Me Up had been profitable in prior years but posted a loss in 2019, consistent with Causey.

Then sentiment appeared to change. “He said you would like to work out the way to change your business,” Causey told MarketWatch. “He was like, you would like to work out how to urge revenue with everyone reception . i used to be like, i want to travel on social media and figure it out.”

Causey had been slowly growing Candy Me Up’s Instagram presence for about 10 years, but she decided to require a stab at TikTok, which had been surging in popularity as people looked to occupy themselves with fun content during their extended time reception .

A few early posts went viral, resulting in a gentle stream of followers. Then a YouTube star reached out about the candies and gave Candy Me Up a shoutout as how to assist the tiny business get through the pandemic.

“That brought 40,000 instant followers overnight,” Causey said. “They’re all kids and youngsters love candy.”

Causey said that she and her brother are naturally goofy but that it took a while for them to feel comfortable being that way on camera.

“We weren’t those people that took selfies of ourselves,” she said. “Now we’re wont to it and our personalities are showing.”

A financial cushion

A $10,000 loan through the Paycheck Protection Program gave Candy Me Up a financial cushion before Causey made the pivot to direct web sales.

Like many small business owners, she struggled to urge the cash she needed within the youth of the program. After quite a month without seeing progress on the PPP application she filed through her bank, she put in an application through PayPal Holdings Inc. PYPL, +1.60%.

Candy Me Up was approved for the loan two days later and therefore the money got delivered on the third business day.

“I was really happy about PayPal and the way easy it had been to urge the cash ,” she said.

She used the PPP money for payroll and other elements of Candy Me Up’s overhead, and she or he found herself guiding fellow members of the center Eastern businessmen through the PPP application process with PayPal.

Causey was originally unsure about whether to even apply for PPP money as long as her business lost money in 2019, as she worried that the loan could put her during a deeper hole. She ended up taking that loan, which she said “helped keep us open for that one month until I had to vary the business during a way.”

Once Candy Me Up made the web transition, Causey found herself turning down other sorts of government loan assistance. She eventually was given the choice to require out $100,000 in loan money through a special Small Business Administration program supported an application she filed earlier within the pandemic, but she felt she not needed it given the company’s newfound success on TikTok.

“Why remove money when money’s now flowing in?” Causey said, though she noted that if not for the company’s online pivot, the initial PPP funds likely wouldn’t are enough.

“$10,000 was helpful at the time but it actually ran out fast.”
Looking ahead

Despite Candy Me Up’s online successes, the corporate remains feeling the sting from COVID-19 and its impact on physical gatherings.

The company usually participates within the San Diego County Fair, a monthlong event early within the summer “that brings us such a lot money in 28 days that we don’t even got to be open for half the year,” Causey said. This year’s event was canceled thanks to the pandemic.

The hope is that next year, the corporate are going to be ready to enjoy both the in-person fair also because the ongoing online operation.

Candy Me Up now has roughly 400,000 TikTok followers, and it’s racked up variety of viral hits. one among the company’s first videos amassed quite 5 million views for its depiction of the behind-the-scenes process of creating Chick-O-Sticks, a spread candy that’s coated in coconut. Causey found the footage on Chick-O-Sticks’ site.

Her original videos also are having success. A newer clip featuring Causey and Hallak as they pour sour liquid on their Juicy Drop Pop lollipops has quite 2 million views. One showing Causey as she packs a customer’s order is nearing 5 million views.

On a relative basis, Causey hasn’t had the maximum amount success build up her Instagram or YouTube followings, partially because she had originally tailored her Instagram page more toward business clients with aesthetic photos of confectionary assortments, instead of kid-friendly videos.

She began asking fans to follow her on those other platforms also once she heard that President Donald Trump might ban TikTok, though ultimately she’s not too worried that outcome. After reading articles on U.S. companies like Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +0.67% and their interest in TikTok, she was left with the sensation that TikTok won’t be disappearing.

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