WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) - She's the youngest person ever to grace the cover of a prestigious magazine and it's all because of her multi-million-dollar idea. Alina Morse of West Bloomfield came up with candy that's actually good for you.
"I came up with the idea when I was 7 years old. The bank teller offered me a lollipop and my dad told me I shouldn't have candy because sugar is terrible for your teeth, so I asked him why can't we make healthy lollipop that's good for my teeth so that I could have candy and it wouldn't be bad for me," she said.
Morse is a 13-year-old middle schooler whose sweet success came from that moment. Through actual plant trials, her product was born when she was only 9. Then she founded and became the CEO of Zollipops.
"I also talk to my dentist and the dental hygienist about things that are good for my teeth because obviously they are anti-sugar and they wanted something that's good for me," she said.
They suggested using Xylitol and other sweetness, but there's no sugar in it. Now her candy is at Kroger, Walmart, Whole Foods, coming soon to Target. Oh, and she's a millionaire -- the youngest person ever on the cover of Entrepreneur magazine.
"It was never really about making money or getting into retailers, it was about helping families and kids smile because our mission is to help reduce child hood tooth decay which is the single greatest health epidemic facing children today according to the US Surgeon General. So we found out through our product we can help reduce tooth decay," Tom Morse said. Tom is a proud coworker and dad, helping manage the business. So is her 9-year-old sister and mother.
"She asks great questions and I think most great CEOs, what they're good at is there asking questions. She's asking those questions all the time we just try to help find answers for her so we can help her and what she's trying to accomplish," he said.
She believes in the mission, so she started the Million Smiles Campaign -- free Zollipops for any schools that want them. Five years away from college, business is her forte already though the science behind the confections she's passionate about.
"But actually raises the pH in your mouth and reduces the acid and strengthens your enamel which takes away the bacteria that takes away the battery that causes tooth decay plus they taste great," she said.
Her secret to success is advice that's easy to swallow.
"Work hard, try, believes and never give up," she said.