Dandy Candy, LLC was started in 2006 by friends and co-owners Goya Qualls and Gina Williams. Dandy Candy is a retail business specializing in printing full color images, photographs, logos and messages onto chocolate products.
The unique business started after Goya Qualls was laid off from the insurance industry where she worked for 24 years. With the ambition of starting her own business, she was reminded of her mother’s saying, “You should do what you love.” Jokingly, she answered herself, “I love chocolate.” What started off as a joke turned into a real business.
After much research, Qualls discovered the idea of selling personalized chocolates and pitched the idea to her friend Gina Williams, a retired disabled veteran who had recently moved from Louisiana to Houston after Hurricane Katrina. Gina was immediately on board. Leaving the chocolate making process to the experts, Qualls and Williams focused on creating graphics and designs to put on the chocolate. During their research, they learned about SCORE, a resource partner of the SBA, who helped them apply for an SBA loan. SCORE is a non-profit association of volunteers who offer free counseling to small business entrepreneurs. In September 2006, Qualls & Williams were approved for an SBA guaranteed loan.
Qualls and Williams continue to improve and grow their business and are still using SCORE’s services today. They recently participated in and graduated from SCORE & Capital One Bank’s “Getting Down To Business” program. This program was created to ensure that small business owners have access to information, resources, mentors and financing that can help them grow and succeed. The program also offers opportunities for qualified small businesses to grow by increasing business knowledge, networking with industry experts and lenders, and earning a match reward. Qualls & Williams won the business plan competition and received City Council and Congressional recognition.
These savvy business women know how to utilize the resources available. Qualls and Williams take their business very seriously, as evidenced by their state and national certifications and their commitment to continuing education. In May 2011, Williams traveled to San Antonio, Texas to attend the Veteran Women Inspiring the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) Conference and in August 2011, Williams graduated from The Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans from Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. Later that year in November, Qualls graduated from The Port of Houston's Small Business Development program and appeared on local FOX TV news in support of Small Business Saturday and in December, they were featured in the Houston Business Journal. They also took advantage of the services provided by the Houston Galveston Women’s Business Center, another resource partner of the SBA.
Dandy Candy didn’t always run so smoothly. They had a rough start in the beginning finding capital and losing inventory to Hurricane Ike; the decline in the economy made things worse. However, the available resources they’ve taken advantage of and applied to their business model have helped and they are looking forward to becoming an international provider of personalized chocolates while they continue to support charitable causes.
Qualls and Williams find joy in putting smiles on people’s faces and their goal is to work with non-profits to help raise money for charity. For more information on Dandy Candy, visit their website at http://www.dandycandyonline.com. More information about the SBA, SCORE, and WBC can be found at http://www.sba.gov and http://www.scorehouston.org, http://www.wbea-texas.org/wbc , respectively.