Submitted by U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 2016 Encore Entrepreneur winners are Beverly Vines-Haines and Charlotte Clary, owners of the sugar-free candy company Ice Chips; which uses a natural sweetener called Xylitol (zye-leh-tohl).  Read a full story about locally owned Ice Chips in this ThurstonTalk article.

The award honors a business owner who started a business after the age of 50 and has had at least three years of successful growth; has innovative or creative business methods; and shows the potential for future growth.

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Charlotte Clary explains why birch trees, the souce of xylitol in Ice Chips, is so important to their story.

Ice Chips uses Xylitol as a healthier, natural sweetener alternative to sugar. The two are known widely as “The Grannies,” as business was started out of a love for their grandchildren.

“We have 41 grandchildren between the two of us,” Clary said. “So we were always looking for natural products for them. Xylitol is actually good for teeth and doesn’t promote decay, so we knew we had to make a candy out of it.”

After some local success with their product, the two made an appearance on the TV show ‘Shark Tank,’ and the business grew exponentially soon after.

District Director Nancy Porzio said the Grannies are a shining example of how hard work, dedication and commitment to a dream can pay off.

“These two took an idea and within six years turned it into an internationally distributed product,” said Porzio. “This is what Small Business Week is all about; celebrating achievements and showcasing entrepreneurial spirit.”

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Bev Vines-Haines (left) and Charlotte Clary displayed their xylitol candy, Ice Chips, on the television show, Shark Tank.

Their candy is sold in all 50 states and as well as many foreign countries through their online store. An international success, the company does it all with 36 employees, operating out of a 21,000 sq. ft. facility in Tumwater, Washington.

In addition to their work with Ice Chips, Vines-Haines and Clary often speak at events for State Teacher Groups, trying to focus on teachers involved with career and business classes. They have also written a book and contribute it to classrooms whenever they speak.

The Grannies also donate thousands of samples to dental education events and whenever they visit classrooms, as the candy is a healthy-alternative to sugar for teeth.

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New kitchen equipment makes creating large batches of Ice Chips so much easier. Photo courtesy: Charlotte Clary.

National Small Business Week is a time to recognize the impact small businesses has on our country,” said Regional Administrator Calvin Goings. “It’s a chance to celebrate the dedicated, hard-working small business owners who are making a difference in their communities.”

Each year since 1963, the President has issued a proclamation calling for the celebration of National Small Business Week. SBA recognizes outstanding small business owners for their personal successes and contributions to our nation.

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