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Highlighting Organizations That are Serving our Greater Rochester Community: Candy Wasted

Q&A with Shawn Yarbrough, father of Candy Wasted owners

November 2022

“Candy Wasted started as a fun safe way to celebrate Halloween, a neat candy craft project that has turned into a successful business training program.” Shawn Yarbrough, Candy Wasted Owners’ father

They’re only 10 and 13 years old, but age isn’t stopping a young sibling duo from running a thriving small business and a training program for youth! Shawn and La’Lah launched Candy Wasted during the pandemic. More than one year later, Candy Wasted and the youth training program that evolved from the business is fulfilling orders, a mission, and hearts.

What is Candy Wasted?

Candy Wasted is a successful, thriving small business owned and operated by Shawn 13, and 10-year-old La’Lah Yarbrough. This sibling duo, during a global pandemic, wanted to use their voice and skills to uplift and motivate other youth. They both knew the importance of being motivated by your peers, the very people you see yourself in, as an extremely valuable experience. They found a way to turn their love for candy into a successful, thriving business that has captured the interest of children and parents throughout the United States.

Candy Wasted responds to your sweet tooth by offering custom candy arrangements, while using marketing and sales to learn and teach financial literacy through Youth Entrepreneurship Training (Y.E.T.), a program created by Shawn & La’Lah Yarbrough to teach their peers how to start a business for themselves.

How has Candy Wasted evolved?

Youth Entrepreneurs Training (Y.E.T.) is a life-changing program that positively impacts the entire community. From exciting local field trips to local companies, students learn how to develop and run a real enterprise with a fun projects-based approach. We develop and deliver an experience-based entrepreneurship program to:

  • Enable students to transition successfully to adulthood.
  • Help them to pursue their dreams by harnessing their creativity and energy.
  • Help them transform their ideas into tangible enterprises that create economic and social value for a better world.
  • Develop the character of tomorrow’s leaders based on personal principles and values.
  • Enable educational institutions and Chambers of Commerce to provide successful and effective entrepreneurship programs for middle and high school students.
  • Create a culture of innovation in schools and communities in which we live.
  • Foster the entrepreneurial mindset in young people.

What kind of impact are you seeing in the community?

According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Covid-19 pandemic has placed a tremendous strain on the American economy, with more than 100,000 small businesses permanently closing their doors. Yet, despite these statistics, the increase in U.S. new business applications hit a 13-year high, as highlighted in an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the Wall Street Journal.

The year 2021 was a challenging yet remarkable year in history. Our program is able to address the ongoing poverty issues in our community by providing financial literacy training, money management support, and business plan development.

“Seize the moment to provide goods and services that the world needs right now. It could be the best decision you ever make.” Shawn Yarbrough

Can you share some personal success stories?

“Y.E.T. program is hands down the best learning experience ever. Life-changing, practical, engaging, and taught by people who are at the top of their field. I met other entrepreneurs to hear their stories, which was inspiring, and through the program I was able to meet and build an amazing network, while having some serious fun. Because of Y.E.T. I was prepared to start my own travel agency after my graduation from high school. The program gave me options. I knew I was going to college, however, I wanted to work for myself. People sometimes only get one vacation a year and the program taught me to be proud and passionate when it comes to booking that very special trip.” Anonymous Participant

What has it been like working with ESL?

Working with ESL has been a breath of fresh air. ESL has definitely made an impact. This relationship allowed Candy Wasted to use our knowledge, skills, and experience to help young entrepreneurs in the city of Rochester improve their resilience, productivity, and capacity for sustainable growth. Through this funding we were able to extend our reach in the community, schools, and non-for-profit organizations. The funding enabled Candy Wasted Youth Entrepreneur’s Training program to acquire reliable transportation, a safe, clean training facility, professional training materials, and covered the Doing Business As (DBA) filing fee. Each participant received business development training, market research support, logo design, and business cards. Thanks, ESL!

What else do you think is important for people to know about your program?

Youth Entrepreneurship Training is focused on empowering Rochester’s youth, to invest in themselves to achieve their goals and dreams.

This is a 39-week program that offers an opportunity for young people between 14 -24 years old to gain valuable personal development skills as well as practical business advice on how to set up and run a business in New York State.

Is there anything people can do to get involved or help your mission?

If you want a kid, young person or even an adult to have a better chance at success in life then take the Y.E.T. training program. The skills you will learn aren’t specific to a certain business so once you learn them you will be able to adapt them to anything in your future. Give a person a fish, they eat for a day, but teach them to fish and they will eat for a lifetime. YET teaches life lessons. The life lessons you need to be successful. Follow us on Facebook @candywasted.