By Laura Payne 25/04 Updated: 30/04 09:49
A MUM'S sweet tooth inspired her to set up her own business which is getting heads turning in town.
Melanie Richings, from Shirley, has been causing a stir around Solihull in her mobile retro sweet shop.
The former air hostess bought a 1976 Bedford ice-cream van last year and swapped the ice-cream for sweets to create Charlie's Candy Shop.
The mum of two drew on her love for the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when transforming the van, which she described as a wreck when she bought it, and believes she has the only retro sweet van in the country selling childhood favourites such as strawberry bon bons and rhubarb and custards.
Melanie said she decided to take the plunge and start her own business after spending time as a full-time mum after
leaving her job as an air hostess.
She said: "I wanted to do something for myself and I loved sweets as a child. The idea of the van came to me and I knew it needed to be an old style ice-cream van so I would be able to sell from it."
After starting at car boots and fairs Charlie's Candy Shop can now be seen visiting secondary schools around the borough where it is proving a bit hit.
Melanie said: "I get so many 'wow' comments from people. It's different and I get a head turn - people think it's an ice-cream van but then they realise I actually sell sweets.
"Now people are starting to see it more around town and they are beginning to recognise me."
If the business proves successful Melanie hopes to invest in another van and would also like to secure a permanent pitch.
And she has advice for other budding entrepreneurs who are wondering whether to pursue their dream.
She said: "I think if people have got an idea they should give it a go, you are not going to lose too much by it and it's worth trying."
Visit www.charliescandyshop.co.uk for more information.
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