Coconut, mango-chile and lavender.
You won’t typically find these cotton candy flavors anywhere but in Durham — and they are taking off because of Wonderpuff and its owner Jackie Morin.
Wonderpuff is a black-owned eco-friendly business that is just one of the local dream businesses that the nonprofit Helius has helped make a reality through their work.
As the daughter of two small business owners, I think the work Helius does for the community is needed for people needing help getting a business off the ground.
I discovered Helius, because it’s based in ReCity (112 Broadway St.) with numerous other community organizations working to “rewrite” Durham’s story. Helius provides free mentoring and coaching to people building businesses out of necessity to support themselves and their families.
Morin is one of these Necessity Driven Entrepreneurs (NDEs) that Helius has helped, in the effort to “level the playing field.” Moving to Durham four years ago, she says she worked hard with Helius to launch in June 2017 her organic artisanal cotton candy company, Wonderpuff.
Morin says the inspiration for the business idea was simple.
“People,” she said. “I wanted to create a product and atmosphere that was joyful to be around.”
Morin told me that before she started her business, she was feeling overwhelmed.
“I was very sad about the world and helpless,”she revealed.“I was seeing a lot of injustices happening to people who look just like me. I wanted to bring more happiness into our community.”
Morin said she wanted to inspire people to shop local and to support businesses of color. “Why buy candy from China?” she asked, “— when you could have it made in your own backyard?”
Morin started to work with Helius because she needed a plan for her business and the right tools to navigate her business.
She explained that finding available capital was one of her main challenges.
Helius helped her overcome this obstacle by giving her advice on her target market and showing her how to be the best in her field of business.
Morin and her husband, Rem, used some of the money that was given to them for a wedding gift to invest in their first cotton candy machine, which helped to launch their cotton candy making career.
Wonderpuff prides itself on the diverse selection of its cotton candy flavors. People have used its wide variety of flavors for products like baked goods, churros, drinks and even body scrubs.
Wonderpuff doesn’t have a storefront just yet, but they do provide cart and catering services. This past September, it was the featured PopUp business at the American Tobacco Campus off Blackwell Street.
For Morin and Wonderpuff, the business is all about “spreading love and unity through sugar.”
Morin said, “We focus on unity and community because we want people to know we are a reflection of them,” .
Morin thinks that having a cotton candy business makes people feel sweet in their spirits. She wants people to look at her and her husband and know that black communities are not the negative stereotypes that much of society teaches.
“Wonderpuff adds an extra sweetness to the culture,” she said. Now people from all around the Triangle support their business.
Due to her hard work, dedication and the help she received from Helius, Morin now works her business full-time and hopes to be able to open a brick and mortar store soon.
“Business is amazing,” she said. “Wonderpuff aligned my faith back in humanity.”