Cortney Martinez always dreamed of opening a candy shop, and in 2004 her dream was realized when she and her mother, Venissa Martinez launched Little Sweet Pea—a gourmet candy store located in Vernal. The business began primarily as a catering service for wedding and other events, which provided the mother-daughter duo an opportunity to showcase several of their homemade recipes including fudge, wedding cakes, sugar cookies and handmade chocolates. Once the business started to grow, Venissa and Cortney moved their kitchen into a commercial location and decided to focus their full attention to retail.
As a result of their steadfast determination and demonstrated business success over the last eight years, Little Sweet Pea has been selected as a nominee for the 2013 Small Business Development Center (SBDC) business awards. “Cortney and her mother have struggled through some hard times to be successful,” said Mark Holmes, Director of the SBDC. “They have built their business just from making a few wedding cakes out of their home to a thriving business with a commercial kitchen.”
To get their business off the ground, Venissa and Cortney contacted the SBDC for help with their business plan and financial statements. They both took a course with Holmes and began one-on-one business counseling. “Without the financial statement preparation that the SBDC provided us, the bank would not have closed on the (business) loan,” said Venissa. “We applied for another loan recently to purchase our new location and Mark helped us put together our profit and loss statement. It was a huge help—we couldn’t have done it on our own.”
Venissa and Cortney are the backbone of the business and continue to be the only staff (with the exception of certain holidays), in order to ensure their homemade candies are of the highest quality and presentation. “The appearance of our candies is very important to us, it’s the reason we have been so well received by our community,” said Venissa. “Customers know they can get exactly what they are looking for, and that it will turn out very nice.”
Some of the most popular items found in the Little Sweet Pea candy shop include homemade fudge, candied apples and sugar cookies. Other customer favorites include specialty creations such as a fudge ball dipped in white chocolate or the “S’more on a Stick,” a chocolate dipped treat with a marshmallow and graham cracker filling. In addition to the specialty candies, Venissa and Cortney also sell bulk candies, create gift baskets and make a few varieties of homemade popcorn.
The Little Sweet Pea has been a great support for community events and non-profit organizations by donating a number of gift baskets and candied confections. The business is an asset to the Vernal community, and the SBDC would like to recognize the owners for their success. “These two ladies have done so much to get to where they are today,” said Holmes. “They have received help from the SBDC of course, and they had an excellent bank loan officer, but everything else is a reflection of their skills and determination.”