Soktevy “Tevy” Phann tells her customers that her gourmet cotton candy is “a little science, a little magic.” It seems to be working, too, because in just a little over a year Tevy’s business, “Spinning Wylde,” has transformed from a festival vendor to a brick-and-mortar store. Tevy had always wanted to share Cambodian culture, and thought one way was to open a Cambodian restaurant. But she knew that the restaurant business was hard and the startup investment was too high.
Tevy sought out and received consultation from the Asian Economic Development Association (AEDA), a Twin Cities nonprofit supporting Asian small businesses. AEDA staff advised her to enter AEDA’s Little Mekong Night Market as a vendor using her old cotton candy machine, and provided marketing support.
“AEDA really supported me and got me started,” Tevy said. She named her business “Spinning Wylde,” a creative take on the spinning bowl and bubble-shaped machine that produces cotton candy and her energetic son, Wylde.
Tevy’s “instagram-mable” cotton candy creations caught the attention of many Night Market attendees and became an instant hit. With Night Market success, Tevy was encouraged to think about bigger possibilities. Deciding to further test market and grow Spinning Wylde at other festivals, Tevy took advantage of AEDA’s business technical assistance, which helped her with business planning and financial projections. She also enrolled in AEDA’s business training and financial education workshops, and took out an AEDA credit builder loan to improve her credit score.
“AEDA’s workshops gave me a understanding of budgeting and building good credit,” Tevy said. “Through this process, I learned that I needed planning and a solid financial foundation to start a successful business.”
A testament to Tevy’s savvy vision, Spinning Wylde is not only about cotton Candy, but also a unique customer experience. Customers choose from fifty flavors of glowing cotton candy, they can relax in a pop-up rest area with rugs and lawn chairs, and children can participate in art activities provided by the Spinning Wylde mini-bus.
Spinning Wylde continued to garner positive reviews. The Mall of America came knocking and Spinning Wylde opened a temporary kiosk selling to tourists. Then the NFL invited Spinning Wylde to be part of the Super Bowl festivities in Minneapolis, which gave Tevy’s business wide local media exposure.
As Spinning Wylde continued to grow, Tevy realized she needed new equipment and working capital if she was to keep up with customer demand and realize her goal of opening a permanent, full-time business. Tevy applied for a micro-business loan from AEDA. The loan was approved based on her drive to succeed, her improved credit score as a result of her AEDA credit builder loan, and Spinning Wylde’s proven revenue potential.
When a new food market opened in Saint Paul, Spinning Wylde was offered a permanent retail space. Since opening in Fall of 2018, Spinning Wylde has become one of the main attractions for the new destination.
“Spinning Wylde is about joyful making and joyful giving,” she said. “I’m making a magical, ethereal thing for people of all ages.”