Dallas Entrepreneur Makes Something Sweet Out of 2020 Hardships

Yasmeen Tadia is drawing from her life lessons and experiences to help her navigate the uncertain world brought on by COVID-19.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Here's 'Something Good' that happens to be something sweet.

Yasmeen Tadia started her business as a single mom. She’s breaking down stereotypes as an entrepreneur.

And she wants to share some inspiration to so many local businesses still struggling through the pandemic.

“I am a minority in almost every sense of the word. I am Muslim. I’m an immigrant, I’m Asian American, I speak fluent Spanish and I’m African," she shared with NBC 5.

She's drawing from her life experiences and lessons learned to help her navigate the uncertain world brought on by COVID-19.

"Now I look back and I think I don’t even know when COVID is going to end," she said.

Tadia is the daughter of immigrants from South Africa who lived through apartheid. She learned her entrepreneurial spirit from her father, who sold medical supplies when they moved to America with their children to find a better life.

"He would even try to get someone to buy gloves from him. When I was five, I remember those things and that’s how I got to where I am. He told me everything was based on relationships," she recalled.

Eight years ago as a single mom, she put all of her savings into a new company called Make Your Life Sweeter. Her team makes a line of unique sweets like cotton candy, chocolates other sweets and puts together unique, Instagrammable experiences and candy creations at large parties and corporate events.

Make Your Life Sweeter

Her client list includes Facebook, Forbes, Laura Mercier, Neiman Marcus and celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Stevie Wonder.

“We focus on doing experiences that people can never buy in stores. My goal was to never ever have a store," she said.

Earlier in 2020, she was planning a product launch event with make-up brand Laura Mercier, with plans to host a special event at every Nordstrom in the country.

"We've been a part of their launches for three years so imagine 110 stores were supposed to get an experience with the launch of a new product and literally, we already produced everything. So 6,000 bags of popcorn that was been custom produced to match the product line. COVID hit and everything got sent back to us," Tadia recalls.

When the pandemic boiled up in March, it hit her client base hard. Those corporate events and launches vanished. So did her business plans for the year.

"I knew something was going to need to change," Tadia said.

Instead of giving up, she did the last thing anyone would think of: she opened her own pop-up store at Galleria Dallas called The Sweet Boutique. She is now selling her famous sweets in a brick and mortar location and hosting private, socially distant events. She said she drew on the inspiration of her family and taking care of her young son.

Make Your Life Sweeter

“Never say never," she said. "I had a vision, I had a goal for what I wanted the business to look like but I don’t think any entrepreneur right now can say that they’re doing things in the same trajectory as where their business was headed."

Within two weeks, her team of six women scrubbed and transformed the space from bland walls and floors, into a posh and colorful candy haven. They also created a heroes collection to send out candy and gifts to healthcare and essential workers.

"I did not lay off or furlough any of my employees during COVID. They either had more work or more hours because I didn’t want them impacted like their families were impacted by losing jobs," Tadia said. "As a small business, I’m able to make that decision. I am going to take my personal money and put into payroll and make sure I’m taking care of the people that take care of me."

Make Your Life Sweeter

She says 2020 has taught her to pivot, take chances and above all else, believe in yourself and your team.

“Anything that you put your mind to as possible," she said. "We need this to keep us afloat. I'll be honest, my business is down 95% because of canceled corporate events and canceled gifting. So all of my clients are saying, 'Hang in there, Yasmeen. Everything will be better when covid is over.' And this is my way of trying to hang in there."

Tadia's shop just opened over the weekend. Her in-store offerings include her all-natural organic line of gourmet cotton candy in flavors like Crème Brulee Cheesecake, Passionfruit and Baklava, and popcorn in flavors like Italian Cream Cake and South African Peppermint Crisp. There's also a large selection of macaroons and chocolate truffles.

Make Your Life Sweeter

In an effort to think outside of the box during this challenging time for businesses, Tadia has also created custom, multi-course private dessert tastings. The experience includes a one-hour, socially distanced tasting of 10 to 21 dessert plates. Reservations are filling up fast.

To learn more, click here.

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