By Kayli Corbin
Photography by Emma Thompson
Life’s sweetness comes to us in countless ways. The pleasant taste and characteristics of sugar or honey is our most common association. Chocolate’s smooth, sugary, melt in your mouth palatability has made it a favorite for the last 2,000 years. The history of sweet treats is often nostalgic in nature, spanning a much shorter and more personal history. We all have memories of our favorite candies from our youth. Whether your personal favorite was an everlasting jawbreaker or a rich and creamy chocolate, it’s easy to know that the sweetest things in life frequently come from something exactly that – sweet.
Cyndy Radovich is helping our community with her own personal sweetness. She’s been working with individuals with developmental disabilities for the past 12 years. While traveling she encountered multiple places that offered employment for the developmentally disabled and wondered what was holding her back from doing the same. One client, who she had worked with the longest, had a rough introduction to traditional employment and ended up unsuccessful within the commonplace of a traditional work environment.
From this experience, Sweet Zola’s Candy Shop was born. After initially fundraising for a coffee shop, Radovich came across another sweet opportunity. Ashley and Sage Potter of Potter’s Tea House were eager to help with the formation of Sweet Zola’s Candy Shop and there was only a month between idea and inception. It’s truly amazing what dedication and vision can accomplish. An official open day of February 4th, 2019 brought Sweet Zola’s to a brick and mortar store front with he opportunity to start helping individuals succeed.
Radovich shares, “I have 10 paid employees ranging in diagnosis from Autism, Downs Syndrome, to Intellectual Disabilities. All my employees and volunteers have brought so much joy to my life and they all seem to enjoy having responsibility and more meaning to their lives. Each employee has his/her own set of successes and things that may need more work, but it has been an absolute blast.” A total of 6 volunteers work with her paid employees to offer guidance and practical work experience.
The shop offers some of the communities’ favorite nostalgic candies, including Asher Chocolates which are also a staff favorite. Sweet Zola’s also offers a wide variety of specialty gift baskets and novelty items like needlepoint art and adorable mugs. You’ll have to swing by Potter’s Tea House in Meridian off Main Street to check out the full collection, but you can also utilize their delivery service through Door Dash or by contacting the store directly at (208) 409-1758.
Radovich reminds us of the importance of this shop, “Regardless of disability, my employees and others are capable of so much more than they are given credit for. There may be some training needed for some of these individuals, but that is the case for anyone. We all need a little bit of help getting through our formative years, but with the right support and encouragement, we are capable of so much!”
The next time you’re feeling deprived of life’s sweetness, swing by Sweet Zola’s Candy Shop to be reminded of all the things that make your life sweet.