Ready to add some sweetness to the world, 12-year-old entrepreneur Lilly Trentacosta is proving to be a sucker for giving back with her own lollipop company, Lillypops.
The business, which officially started with Dumont Day on Sept. 9, sells a variety of lollipops that are all made by Trentacosta herself, with the help of her family. A portion of the proceeds is donated to charity.
Lillypops began as an idea that Trentacosta had when she was 11 years old, and the young entrepreneur became determined to make her idea come to fruition. It all started with her own love of making things, mainly in regards to baking, and then she wanted to try to get into candy making.
“I love lollipops, and I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and have always wanted to help people, so I thought this would be the best way because everyone loves lollipops,” she said.
The company was able to launch itself at Dumont Day after Trentacosta and her family was able to get a commercial kitchen and food-handling license, as well as its own LLC and bank account. The flavors sold include cherry, cinnamon, cotton candy, peach, watermelon, as well as a seasonal cookies-and-cream flavor called Midnight Snack and, Trentacosta’s personal favorite, blue raspberry.
“I wanted to be original, so that comes with the cinnamon and peach, but I also wanted people to know some of the flavors too, like the cherry and watermelon, in case they didn’t know what to get,” Trentacosta said.
Lillypops are sold at festivals like Dumont Day, as well as other food festivals. There has also been support from Trentacosta’s teachers, especially her theater teachers who work to have the lollipops sold at the school shows.
From there, half of the proceeds are then donated to various charities. Originally, Trentacosta hoped to use the proceeds to help local charities in her area, including the shelter she got her dog from and the parks she went to. After the recent natural disasters though, Trentacosta wanted to do more.
“With all the global disasters, like the hurricanes, I saw I needed to help those first,” she said. “I’ve helped Texas, Florida and now this month, we’re doing Puerto Rico. I’ve always wanted to give back to charities. I’ve grown up around so many things that I’ve taken for granted and I just want to help give back to them.”
Other charities that are donated to, according to the company’s website, include American Red Cross and Tenafly Pet ResQ, Inc.
She is excited for the work she has done and how much she has been able to give back so far, which she said is what she is currently most proud of with her budding company. She is also very humbled by the reactions people give for her treats.
“It’s really cool [to have this kind of success] because when I’m at festivals and things people are always like, ‘Wow, you make these!’ and my friends are like, ‘You have a business, and you have a website!’ so it’s really cool,” she said. “People are usually surprised I actually make lollipops, and then they’re even more surprised when they find I do it for charity. They really like them, and it’s really great.”
The young entrepreneur is very grateful to her parents too for helping her idea become real.
“My parents always said to pursue my dreams and I always just thought that would be so cool to see your dreams become a reality,” she said. “In the beginning my parents loaned me some money and let me go through with my crazy idea. Their support is so much to me.”
Trentacosta’s mother, Jennifer, was not surprised by her daughter’s entrepreneurial spirit.
“I’m a very proud mom,” Jennifer said. “I’m all about empowerment, and I just went with it [when she said she wanted to start her own company]. I really let her have that vision and I really encouraged it because I think it’s really important to encourage our children and empower our girls. It’s hard to not encourage it when she says she wants to do it to help people.”
Moving forward, Trentacosta is ecstatic at the progress she has made with the company thus far. While she keeps school a priority, she plans to keep Lillypops expanding, and has even started working with a new product: lillypips, which, according to her, are containers of bite-sized lollipops without the stick.
Trenacosta is looking forward to featuring her lollipops in future food festivals and recommends anyone looking to try should try one of each – just to see which is the favorite, she said with a laugh. She also added a more serious recommendation too.
“The sweetest way is to be kind to one another,” she said. “Be kind and give back.”
By Tara DeLorenzo