By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times
Jerethia “Recey” Blake craved candy so often that she decided create a business.
“I realized there wasn’t a candy store in Birmingham,” she said. “If you wanted candy you would have to go to a store, but there wasn’t an actual candy shop.”
Blake, 33, is owner of Pure Imagination Candy Shoppe which is set in a mobile tiny house, and travels to different venues and events.
“My dad came across an old RV and I thought ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to have a candy store that’s mobile,’ and that’s how the idea was born,” she said. “At that time – 2011, 2012 – food trucks were really taking off, and having a full-time career it allowed me to work on my schedule and my terms.”
Blake found the tiny house on Craigslist after looking for a new RV, because the original RV found by her father was too old.
“Tiny houses are taking off,” she said. “People can have the tiny house come to a party, and if they don’t want the tiny house, I do custom candy buffets.”
She offers candy buffets that are carefully planned, she said.
“Depending on what kind of candy they want, we customize it. We take it to the next level,” she said. “Sometimes people just buy a bunch of candy and put it in a jar, but we specialize it. I decorate the jars and centerpieces to match your theme . . . I have business partners that will make special, custom treats like candy apples and chocolate-covered Oreos.”
Pure Imagination, which opened in late spring 2016, tries not to sell candies that can be found at the grocery store, she said.
“We try to go for those sugary candies like the big lollipops, to the old-school candies that our parents or generations before us had,” she said. “I look for unique chocolates as well. There are celebrities that have their own candy businesses.”
Those include Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova’s Sugarpova.
“A lot of people don’t see that out there,” she said. “Her candy is really yummy and unique. That’s the kind of candy I look for to go in the shop.”
Blake hopes Pure Imagination can have its own signature candy.
“My next step is making my own candy, and having customers make their own candy in the store,” she said. “I would love for people to make their own, adding to the experience of Pure Imagination.”
Blake is originally from Charleston, South Carolina, and moved to Birmingham in 2010 after getting a job from the Housing Authority of Birmingham District. She has always enjoyed sweets, she said.
“I literally eat candy all the time,” she said. “It can be a meal for me. My parents and people who know me tell me, ‘you need to eat food.”
As a child, her favorite movie was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
“The feeling I’d get when watching Willy Wonka was the same feeling I would get when walking into a candy store,” she said. “Even as an adult, I feel that way. I feel like a kid again.”
Everybody has that kid inside that makes them happy when walking into a candy store, she said. “It takes you to a place of nostalgia,” she said.
Blake has limited space to work within the tiny house, so the design is important.
“All the walls are white,” she said. “The candy’s color is brought out by white. I have movable shelves, so I can bring focus to certain items. I also have bean bag chairs for people to sit in and relax in. It almost looks like a cottage house on the outside, but once you walk in, it really looks like a candy store. A lot of people are always surprised because they say it’s always bigger than they expect.”
Blake said she’d eventually like to move into a store front, and use the tiny house as a mobile advertisement.
“A store front would really help with my plan of having candy made in the store,” she said.
Her love for candy means she has to stay on the move.
“I like to work out,” she said. “I love Spin classes. I go to Spin at the downtown YMCA. I love bicycling. I often bicycle around downtown.”
As for anyone who wants to start a business she has this advice: “Don’t be afraid of your own research and don’t be afraid to reach out. There are plenty of people that are willing to help especially in Birmingham.”
To contact Blake and Pure Imagination, go to Facebook.com/PureImaginationCandyShoppe or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.