By Emma Sapong
The Buffalo News, N.Y.
Zandra Cunningham was like any other teen girl at the Kissmas Bash — the popular holiday concert. She danced, screamed and melted when pop singers Jacob Latimore and Nick Jonas took the stage at the First Niagara Center.
But the next morning, when other concertgoers were most likely still in bed, Zandra returned to a world few of her peers know — entrepreneurship.
The 14-year-old is the owner and creator of Zandra’s Beauty, a line of all-natural, luxurious bath and body products. And that Saturday last month was the biggest shopping day of the holiday season, so she tirelessly peddled her artisan bath bars, body souffles and lotions at the Foundry and in the Market Arcade.
Zandra then pulled an all-nighter, emulsifying ingredients like peppermint oil, fair-trade shea butter and sea salt to fulfill last-minute orders and replenish her depleted inventory.
“I was really busy; it was such a long day, but we made a lot of money,” she said. “It was worth it.”
The line boasts 37 products, including vegan body washes and oversized lip balms, priced $8 to $18, and in five aromatic scents — “For the Love of Mint,” “Lavender Vanilla Chai,” “Lemon Tea Tree,” “Almond Alfresco,” and “Japanese Kumquat.”
Marketed for teen girls, the products come in colorful packages, bearing inspirational messages, to counter teen angst and insecurities. “Let’s Face It Together,” declares the bamboo clay facial soap; “Love You. I Do,” shouts the body sugar scrub; and “You’re Unique + Beautiful,” affirms the lemon tree body wash.
While she’s only 14, and her products are geared toward her peers, Zandra’s Beauty is no child’s play.
It was one of five small businesses selected for free retail space last year in the Market Arcade through the pilot program, Queen City Pop Up. The West Side Bazaar has carried her products since 2013. A 1,300-square-foot production space in the Pierce Arrow Commerce Park on Elmwood Avenue is the company’s base. Her parents have sunk $15,000 into the venture. And if that’s not enough, Zandra was trained in entrepreneurship by the University at Buffalo’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership. She is the youngest graduate of the center’s Allstate Minority and Women Emerging Entrepreneurs Program, a nine-month business training designed for adults.