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Get Happy

How one woman went from enduring corporate gloom to living the sweet life.

Twenty-three years as a production control manager took its toll on Shanna Allred. "The stress level and people's attitudes are just so hard and miserable," she says of the corporate world. So when Allred was laid off, she decided to head for greener--or rather, sweeter--pastures.

"I just wanted to do something more fun and cheerful and be where people are happier, says Allred, 46. She found what she was looking for in Candy Bouquet, a franchise that sells colorful arrangements made from gourmet candies instead of flowers. She opened her South Ogden, Utah, store in 2005, using her severance pay to cover the $45,000 in startup costs, which included the franchise fee, inventory and build out.

Candy Bouquet franchisees can run their businesses from home, but Allred thought the extra cost of a storefront would be worthwhile, since her best form of marketing is letting people see her arrangements for themselves. She has also found it beneficial to donate bouquets to various events.

Allred saves money in others ways, though--including getting help from her family. Her husband takes care of the books, and her college-age son makes deliveries. With their help, she's able to run the store with only one part-time employee. She does everything else herself, including making the bouquets. Although she had no experience owning and operating a business--let alone constructing flowers from candy--a week of training at corporate headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas, was enough to get her started.

Allred admits that when she left the corporate world for the franchising world, "the stress really didn't go away." In fact, she's busier than ever. But, she says, "It's more fun. I'm dealing with more cheerful people, people who enjoy what they're getting." And for her, that's made all the difference.

This story appears in the May 2008 issue of Startups. Subscribe »