Tasha Kornegay's business truly couldn't be sweeter. She makes cotton candy, after all.
And while she hopes to sell mounds of the fluffy confection, the reason behind Oscar William's Cotton Candy Company isn't fluffy at all: The mental health therapist who donates her time teaching young women about HIV/AIDS hopes the business will help her raise money to boost awareness of the illness.
I met Kornegay, a mom of one in Apex, this summer when she offered free samples of her cotton candy to families who came to our events at North Hills. She, her husband and their 14-year-old son came out in bow ties with colorful outfits and an even brighter presence.
And with flavors that ranged from cheesecake to chocolate to Danish pastry, the booth was a very popular spot with the kids!
"It's very fun," she tells me. "We wanted to introduced something to the community who reflected who we are."
I interviewed Kornegay at our event at North Hills and we chatted by email. Here's our email chat and video interview.
Go Ask Mom: How did this all come about? Why cotton candy? When did you start?
Kornegay: I was wrecking my brain one day on trying to figure out ways to raise funding for HIV/AIDS awareness after writing grant after grant with little success. One day, my son (Kyree) had a bright idea, he said: “Mom maybe you need to raise your own funds?” Kids can say the smartest things. After continuing to discuss this option with Kyree, he came up with the idea to sell cotton candy. He began to call
out cool flavors in a kidding kind of way. I then picked my husband’s brain, and he came up with the company's name and logo, the signature bow ties and fun colorful outfits. If you notice, Oscar William’s signature bow tie is red, symbolizing HIV/AIDS. And Oscar William’s Gourmet Cotton Candy was launched in April 2013.
GAM: Tell me about your product and how you come up with the flavors?
Kornegay: My husband and I are vegan, therefore we wanted to offer an alternative to regular cotton candy. Oscar William products are certified organic, Kosher, vegan, gluten free, allergen-free, no artificial flavoring or coloring, which makes our cotton candy perfectly clean and tasty! We wanted to create flavors to tantalize the taste buds of all.
GAM: What's the response been, so far?
Kornegay: Moms seem to be pretty excited about us, Well maybe Oscar William (lol). Our first event was in June of this year (Peak City Pig Fest). We sold out of our cheesecake and carrot cake flavors in an hour. Folks seemed to love the bow ties. Then came “Follow the Bow Tie." Now all who choose to “Follow the Bow Tie” can check our Facebook page to find out where Oscar William will be
distributing samples of his gourmet cotton candy.
GAM: How do you hope the business grows?
Kornegay: We hope to have Oscar William on shelves, continue live events, and to have a store front. As well as to continue to donate a percentage of proceeds for HIV/AIDS awareness state wide.
GAM: What do you want people to know about HIV/AIDS?
Kornegay: During my graduate studies, I worked at ASHA (American Sexual Health Association), answering questions on the national STD/HIV hotline. Through research I began to realize the seriousness, and alarming rate of the HIV/AIDS epidemic within my own community (Durham) and countless communities throughout North Carolina. According to the CDC, one in five people living with HIV are unaware of their status. I hope to inspire people to get tested, as well as start serious dialogues about sexual health.
Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.