Teen entrepreneur lands Fresh Thyme deal

Anaya Fernando founded Sugar Sweet Bath + Body Treats in 2018. Courtesy Dee Bolden

A Kalamazoo teen recently secured a retail deal for her small business.

Eighteen-year-old Anaya Fernando, owner of Sugar Sweet Bath + Body Treats, will sell her natural self-care products at grocery retailer Fresh Thyme Market.

The official in-store launch will take place with a pop-up event from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at the retailer’s Portage location, at 6212 S. Westnedge Ave. Fernando will give a meet-and-greet and product demos during the afternoon.

Founded in 2018 by Fernando and her mom and cousin, Sugar Sweet features products such as bath bombs, body butters, whipped soap, lip gloss and scrubs.

Fernando said she wanted to create a mission-driven business focused on self-care.

“I wanted to start something that helped women, because there are things out there that aren’t good for the body,” she said.

A recent graduate of Portage Northern High School, Fernando landed the Fresh Thyme deal the same week as her graduation.

The opportunity came through the Ready to Retail program offered by Teresa Baker, a Kalamazoo-based entrepreneur. The program is designed to position businesses to connect with national retailers.

While the Fresh Thyme launch will begin in Portage, Fernando will find out how many other locations will carry her products after June 19.

Fernando will attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College this fall while focusing on Sugar Sweet. She said she hasn’t decided on a major but plans to do something in business.

Her recommendation for those who wish to start a business is to meet a need and find a passion.

“Look for things that are needed, but things that you also like at the same time,” Fernando said. “You have to be able to love what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and what you’re doing with it.”

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