AP NEWS

‘Sweet’ business comes to Cypress

April 11, 2019

After dropping one of her three children off at the Fun N Play Indoor Playground one morning, Courtney Okanlomo saw something that made her want to finally start a project that had been on her mind for some time.

“I actually saw people in there working, and it was a family with all hands on deck getting the place prepared to open,” she said. “After leaving I told (my family) it’s time. We didn’t know what it was going to be, we didn’t know how we were going to do it and it just ended up being candy.”

She and her family brainstormed business ideas and Cypress Sweets — a boutique-style candy store — was born. An LLC was founded in November 2018.

Okanlomo co-owns the business venture with her husband Bayo Okanlomo and her sister Tara Butler and scheduled a grand opening for Cypress Sweets on Saturday, April 13.

The store has a variety of sweets and treats from standard fare like gumballs, gummy bears and Lemonheads, to gourmet offerings like bacon-flavored suckers and dill pickle popcorn. Okanlomo said she wanted to provide a varied experience for customers.

“We are also specializing in sugar-free, which is something not a lot of candy stores dive into,” she said

Cypress Sweets partnered with a dentist to include anti-cavity sweets, such as Zollipops and sugar-free taffy, in swag bags for guests during their grand opening week, Okanlomo said.

Alongside the retail section of the store, Cypress Sweets offers event space and hosts group activities that attendees can pre-register for, including candy craft hour, where children can craft with items in the store, and movie nights with theater-sized candy and popcorn.

A Chicago-native, Okanlomo said her 10 years of experience in the Houston area — including the resiliency she saw after Hurricane Harvey in 2018 — inspired her to leave her mark on the community.

“Our children are important to us, the community is important to us,” Okanlomo said. “My husband has built literally every piece of furniture (on the retail) side. When I say family-owned and operated, it’s family-owned, built and operated.”

Okanlomo has reached out to local nonprofits about participating in efforts such as food drive donations, she said. She and her family are invested in their new business and they intend to invest in the surrounding community as well.

“We used pure real estate commission to fund it, no business loans,” she said. “We poured everything we have into the business. My sister designed the logo. We are pretty much a blank canvas, believe it or not, and it’s important to us to give back.”

With the business based in a central location for her family, Okanlomo hopes Cypress Sweets becomes a multi-generational operation that continues offering unique products and services.

“It’s something that we want to be able to pass down to our children, maybe open other locations.”

Cypress Sweets will have its grand opening on April 13 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Attendees can try samples and the first 100 customers will receive swag bags.

People can sign up for Easter basket crafting sessions, which Cypress Sweets will host throughout April with appearances from the Easter bunny on weekends.

Cypress Sweets is located at 11702 Grant Rd. Suite E, Houston.

For more information, visit www.cypress-sweets.com.

chevall.pryce@chron.com