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This CEO Raised Over $3M to Beat Sugar At Its Own Game

People

Every one of us has been hit with a massive sugar craving. We give into it, indulging in gummy bears or chocolate or donuts, only to be met with a massive crash about an hour or two later. But the story doesn't end there, because those sugar cravings always end up coming back.


As much as 40 percent of health expenditures in the United States are closely tied to overconsumption of sugar. There's also evidence that sugar has negative physiological effects on the brain. As a society, we're addicted to it. That's why Tara Bosch, CEO and Founder of SmartSweets, is riding a sugar-free high from revolutionizing candy consumption.

“Our first and foremost mission is really addressing the sugar and making sustainable eating choices that foster a healthy relationship with food. I really focus on encouraging and empowering a sustainable relationship with food and then ultimately themselves," says Bosch.

In just under a year after conception, SmartSweets expanded from Bosch's kitchen in Vancouver to shelves across Canada. Bosch herself went from a college student, studying arts, to a bonafide CEO. Now, SmartSweets has evolved even further, taking over grocery chains across America. Having launched in Whole Foods in March of this year, SmartSweets has increased its reach from 2,500 doors to over 10,000.

The 23-year-old founder says a conversation with her Grandmother gave her the idea to give sugar the boot. “She shared with me that she regretted having sugar, and so much of it for so long," says Bosch. “For me, it was really shocking because growing up I had an unhealthy relationship with food because of all the candy I was eating. It sparked my inspiration into sugar, what it's doing to us as a society, despite that it's never been more available in packaged foods today, specifically in the candy industry where it's the epicenter of sugar in excessive amounts. It inspired me to begin my quest and make the first candy that kicks sugar."

From there, Bosch began recipe testing like a madwoman. Her secret? She utilizes tapioca and chicory root as natural sweeteners. These ingredients also help you feel fuller longer and have the added benefits of plant-based fiber, she says.

Besides the lack of sugar, the most important thing is for SmartSweets to be comparable to the taste of the gummy bears we've all grown up with. “If people are to make a smarter, more sustainable choice it has to taste like the real thing," explains Bosch. “For us, we have 3 grams of sugar for the entire bag, whereas Haribo would have between 25 to 35 grams, and that's not for the whole bag. That's just a 50-gram serving."

Bosch is beating sugar at its own game, but success didn't come without risk.

She secured her initial funding through debt financing before getting SmartSweets onto shelves. “I signed my life away, essentially, but we launched with 120 thousand of debt financing, and that's what got us basically from the point of ideation to launching on our first shelf." says Bosch. "In January, we just raised 3M and before that I had done a convertible note, and that's really fueling our U.S. launch and really getting us to the place where we're able to sustain ourselves organically through our margins.

She learned to do all this through a resource already at anyone's fingertips - Google. “Everything is on google," advises Bosch. “That's how I found pretty much everything from our first raw materials to our manufacturing partner."

Bosch credits her success to her team and an accelerated business program she was accepted into after dropping out of school. “I'm probably the stupidest person on my team," she jokes. “Not in a self-deprecating way, just being brutally honest about what I'm not good at, and the knowledge I don't have, and then making sure to surround myself with the people that do. SmartSweets has been really lucky because I was accepted into an accelerated program when I dropped out of university, and as a sole founder that was really great because all of a sudden I was no longer in my kitchen by myself."

Bosch says she envisions the SmartSweets brand becoming a global leader in confectionary products that eliminate sugar, and a thought leader in empowering people with the choice to remove sugar from their diets.

As for the immediate future, SmartSweets will be launching two innovations each quarter. “At this time next year you should be able to go to your favorite store, choose your favorite candy product, whether it's Starburst or Skittles or licorice, and Smart Sweets be the brand delivering on the promise that we're using no sugar, sugar alcohols or artificial sweeteners."

3 Min Read
Career

Black LGBTQ Woman Powerhouse Launches Vegan Cosmetics Line

I am a proud Black business owner carrying a line of lip colors for the woman who wants to shine. At Vatarie Cosmetics you can find cruelty-free and vegan lip care products, including clear lip gloss and liquid matte lipsticks. The line is still under development, so there are more products in the making that you'll hear more about soon!

My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe.

About Leticia

I have worked my way into my entrepreneurial career as I did not come from money. The goal of my cosmetic line is to bring excitement to everyone who tries the line. My products are high-quality and it is my dream to take my brand into high-end storefronts across the nation and even across the globe. I believe that with added makeup and a good set of threads, anybody can confidently face the world. I am a proud and firm supporter of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and a proud member and supporter of the LGBTQIA community.

There have been plenty of hardships that I have had to face throughout my entire life, the most recent being the recent death of my father who passed far too soon. I have never allowed these hardships to deter me, and won't start now. I will continue to progress and work hard to build my business, knowing that this is what my father would have wanted.

About the Vatarie Line: What It's All About

Upon launching the line, I had the mission of inspiring every human to find their inner beauty and to have fun along the way. With this in mind, my products are designed for people of all genders, races, religions, and creeds. The Vatarie line will have more to offer customers very soon as I am continually working on developing products and expanding the line. In addition to the lip colors currently offered, the line will soon include highlighters, eyeshadows, and new lip gloss additions.

I believe that no one needs makeup to validate themselves, and we are all beautiful on our own. I do believe, though, that makeup can make life a lot more fun. Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness. Sometimes all we need to change our moods and get away from that darkness is something to help us feel better and more vibrant — this is where a pop of makeup and a well put together outfit can really make an impact.

Now more than ever we are living in a world where there is so much sadness and darkness.

I encourage everybody to embrace their inner beauty and inner style, and express themselves no matter what. My line of products is inspired by high fashion and designed to make a bold statement. The running theme across my products is empowerment at every stage and level. I create products that make my customers feel happy, and I ensure I am happy myself with my products before I release every single one. There is no place for cutting corners as I believe in producing the highest quality product.

I bring my sense of humor and quirky personality into my products and you can see this in the names of each item. Take the lip color "Blood Money," which signifies all the money, tears, sweat, and yes, blood that was put into the brand. Let me tell you, it was hard work, and it still is hard work, but at the end of the day, it fulfills me to know the type of quality I am providing. It gives me great pride to create a line of legendary products that will positively affect someone and bring them to a place of self-love and acceptance.

About the Past that Gives My Business Meaning

I have struggled over the years with mental abuse that has left me feeling as if "I wasn't enough." Added to that, being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

Coming from a broken home, my family struggled with addiction, making my entire childhood a miserable nightmare. My mother abandoned us as she was being physically abused, and it was up to us the kids to do everything necessary to take care of the home and each other. We eventually ended up living with my grandmother in Miami, Florida. At a very young age, I had to endure physical and mental abuse and was locked up. At the age of 22, I lost my younger sister to gun violence and found myself raising her one-year-old son as my own.

Being a Black woman in an industry that is predominantly dominated by other races, I had to work harder to get to where I am today.

While my past was a rough one, it is what has made me the strong, independent, and vibrant woman I am today. That woman strives to be her best every day and works tirelessly to provide a line of only the best cosmetics products. I couldn't see this while I was living through those bad situations and struggling to grow up, but I can look back and see how I was made more resilient because of my hardships.

As I grieve over my father's recent passing, I become stronger. It is this added personal strength that will push me forward in everything I do and will be reflected in my work ethic and in the development of new products for my Vatarie line of cosmetics.