16-year-old local business owner adapts to pandemic to continue success

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Imagine being a teenager during the current pandemic.

You’re not able to learn in school, you’re not able to socialize with your friends, nor are you able to stay connected with the things that you grew up learning.

However, for Elasya B’ Candy Tree owner Elasya Jessup, the pandemic has created a unique set of challenges that few 16-year-olds are dealing with.

That challenge is owning a business and keeping it afloat during a recession and a pandemic.

“Basically have a plan, and prepare for long term things,” Elasya said, to simplify her business model for 2020.

She opened her candy store in downtown Winston-Salem when she was barely 10 years old. Since then she has grown it into a popular stop for those with a sweet tooth.

In March, as COVID-19 began to force states to enforce the closure of non-essential businesses, Elasya and her family decided it’d be safest to completely shut down.

For three months her candy shop was closed, while she and her family discussed various ways to keep the store financially alive.

“Come up with a plan to make sure our business can keep going. … My biggest fear was not being able to have the same income we had earlier, and having to shut down what we worked so hard for for years,” she said.

Elasya started to make masks and began to sell them to those who would be their customers if the store was open.

“If you don’t have a plan … or any way of income, to support your business it may not survive,” she said.

This allowed for a new set of revenue to be brought in to sustain the candy store while they remained closed.

As months went on, she and her family looked to change a shuttle bus they had bought into a mobile candy store.

“We decided to get the bus going. That has been very successful. We decided to do a pop-up shop at like the quarry and whatnot,” she said.

Elasya B’s Candy Tree is beginning to see customers make orders again, request stops from the candy bus, and people who want masks.

The 16-year old said she had to use here perseverance and drive to overcome something she never could have prepared for.

“Whatever you put your mind to, just do it,” she said.

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