By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

Paula Even Trenda of Curly Girlz Candy is a self-declared chocolate person. 

Curly Girlz Candy was born from Paula’s love for creating recipes and sharing the joy of handmade treats with other people. “I first learned to make Christmas candy with an elderly neighbor when I was in junior high,” shared Paula. “I would go over to help and came to really look forward to it. It was magical to see the ingredients transform.” 

Years later while pregnant with her eldest daughter Paula enrolled in a course to become a certified chocolatier. “I already loved chocolate. I figured why not reallystudy it?” 

From this course Paula started participating in craft fairs, making gifts for friends and family, and even used her skills to make wedding favors for family members. As demand grew, she rented commercial kitchen space from a local school and began to sell to local coffee shops. 

“2013 was the decision year for me. I needed to decide whether to launch the business full time or cut back.” In 2014, Paula opened her first store front, moving to her current location in downtown Owatonna in 2017. 

By 2019 Curly Girlz Candy embraced a major product line shift to specialize in sugar free candy that is both diabetic and keto friendly. None of her recipes depend on chemical or artificial sweeteners. “The new, better for you, sweeteners have made our candies a favorite for people who love sugar, just as much as those who can’t eat it due to diet restrictions,” explained Paula. “Sugar-free candies can taste great and be good for you with clean, local ingredients.”

Making sugar-free candy was in response to customer requests and the unpleasant memory of the sugar-free candy that Paula’s grandmother, who was diabetic, had around in the 1980s. “I felt that with my skills creating a healthier alternative was definitely an option,” stated Paula. “Educating consumers on why our sugar-free candies are different has been very rewarding. We hear all the time, ‘I wouldn’t have known that was sugar-free.’”

Curly Girlz sugar-free product line includes a large variety of caramels, brittles (including a truly distinctive hemp brittle), almond toffee, pecan clusters, fudge, truffles, and peanut butter cups. Paula receives rave reviews from adults and kids. 

This year Curly Girlz has brought a few of their original sugared recipes back to the store after repeated customer requests. Their salted nut rolls, fudge, and vanilla caramels all boast the same high-quality ingredients as the signature sugar-free concoctions. 

Every product from the Curly Girlz candy kitchen is made with real butter, cream, and vanilla. Their chocolate has a high cocoa content. Everything from their menu is made on site at their Owatonna storefront. Each purchase celebrates a handmade product from a family-owned business in a Minnesota small town. 

Over the past decade of developing her custom candies, Paula has especially enjoyed getting to know her customers and fellow local food producers. She’s grateful to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture for their early support and training in food production and marketing. “Minnesota is a great state for local food producers. The support available is amazing. I learned so much about how to run my business from the MN Department of Ag.” 

Connections with other local food producers have some especially tasty results at Curly Girlz. “We love to partner with other producers locally to create new seasonal items.” This year saw a delightful collaboration with AppleRus Orchard & Distillery for custom caramels and truffles. “I love coming up with new recipes. I get such great ideas from these partnerships.” 

The name of the business is a personal one. “We did a lot of brainstorming when looking for the name of our candy shop,” reflected Paula. “We settled on Curly Girlz Candy since I have crazy curly hair and have only daughters. My daughters also have crazy curly hair. That’s how Curly Girlz Candy was born!”

Shop Curly Girlz Candy at Nationwide shipping available. 

Stop in store in Owatonna. Look for their products at Minnesota Hy-Vee stores and at the Greensted in Zumbrota. 

This feature is part of the 2023 MTMM Holiday Gift Guide series. Visit to download the gift guide featuring over 100 of Minnesota’s talented makers. Find Curly Girlz Candy on page 54!

Follow Curly Girlz Candy on Facebook and Instagram for special events and seasonal flavors. 

Follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover more of the people who make Minnesota an amazing place to be!




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