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Osheah Douglas’s sweet, but not too sweet, dreams

Big dreams: Osheah Douglas wants to start a “healthier” snack business using monkfruit as a sweetener (Photograph supplied)

After winning $5,000 in the BEDC’s Rocket Pitch competition, middle-schooler Osheah Douglas is one step closer to forming her own business, Smart Snaxx.

The 11-year-old won the Youth category of the competition for emerging entrepreneurs held on November 15 in Bacardi’s new 1862 Cocktail Bar in Hamilton.

Now Osheah hopes to have Smart Snaxx up and running by April, selling cookies, popcorn and other snacks sweetened with monkfruit.

Monkfruit sweetener, made from the fruit of that name, is said to be better than refined white sugar because it does not raise blood sugar.

“They are healthier snacks, not full-on healthy,” she cautioned. “We did a lot of research on this.”

Osheah’s grandmother, Rosemarie Douglas, had diabetes.

“I wanted to make a snack that she could eat,” Osheah said. “She died last year, but by doing this I am keeping her with me.”

The two shared a love for baking and cooking, and Osheah would often be up at 3am on Christmas morning helping her grandmother to make the Christmas pie.

Osheah’s older sister, Chaella Bradshaw-Douglas, Osheah’s guardian, suggested she enter the competition. Ms Bradshaw-Douglas won the BEDC Rocket Pitch in 2017 for a healthy choice vending business.

“I was really proud of her because I was pitching different ideas at her, but she knew she wanted to stick to making her baked goods,” Ms Douglas said.

To win the competition, Osheah had to come up with a business plan, pitch it during the competition, then answer questions from three judges.

The hardest part for Osheah was the preparation.

“I had to write a speech, type it out, print it out and rehearse it,” she said. “I also had to create a logo. And on top of that I had regular schoolwork to do.”

Things were even more challenging for her because she has learning challenges that make reading and spelling difficult.

“She pushes to do her best, no matter what is in her way,” Ms Bradshaw-Douglas said.

Osheah was particularly proud of herself when she won, especially because her opponent in the category, Aaron Lugo Jr, was several years older than herself.

“I am an M1 and he is an S1,” she said.

Aaron won second prize, $2,000, for Aaron Lugo Jr's Lugo's Mighty Mower business.

Osheah hopes to sell her products in local schools to make more “healthier” snack options available to students like herself. She will offer chocolate chip and vanilla cookies, birthday cake sugar cookies, regular and yeast popcorn and mini doughnuts.

She thought there was no discernible difference in cookies flavoured with monkfruit, compared to refined white sugar. She even did some market research to prove it.

“I bought monkfruit-sweetened cookies for my class one day, and someone else bought regular cookies,” the Dellwood Middle School student said. “We gave them to our classmates and they could not tell which was which. That is how similar it tastes.”

She hopes to have the business up and running by April. The money will help them to get the licensing, packaging and ingredients they need.

Osheah would like to get her products sold on the Sargasso delivery app.

But she is a youngster with many talents and interests.

“When I grow up I want to be a professional tennis player with my own tennis academy,” she said. “I would also like to run my own hotel, restaurant and bakery, and have my own fashion line.”

Older sister Chaella said Osheah is very ambitious.

Ms Bradshaw-Douglas is asking for sponsors to help them to purchase larger pieces of equipment such as doughnut makers and blenders. When they first start out, they will be renting a commercial kitchen, but the goal is to start building a home bakery.

“Maybe someone would be kind enough to help her,” Ms Bradshaw-Douglas said.

For more information e-mail smart.snaxx@gmail.com.

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Published December 09, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated December 10, 2022 at 8:42 am)

Osheah Douglas’s sweet, but not too sweet, dreams

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