By Caroline McKenzie
September 19, 2017
Robbie Caponetto; Hair and Makeup: Tiffany Bagley

When Tasha Holland-Kornegay, a licensed professional counselor with a PhD in community outreach, founded a non-profit to educate her community about HIV/AIDS she never imagined that she would be dishing out cotton candy while wearing a bowtie. But that's exactly where the Apex, North Carolina resident finds herself these days. "In 2013 I was struggling to secure grants for my new organization," she explains. "My then 14-year-old son, Kyree, had the idea to do a cotton candy sale to raise a little money." That first sale was not only a surprising financial success, but also proved an incredibly accessible way to start conversations about a sometimes-uncomfortable topic. Plus, it was a lot of fun. As a result, what was to be a one-time fundraiser spun into a company that combines tasty sugary confections with an outreach component. Of course, the business needed a name and Holland-Kornegay decided to honor her father-in-law, William Oscar, with an inverse of his moniker.

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Today Oscar William's Gourmet is a hot-ticket for weddings, birthday parties, and corporate dinners. (It's also available by mail order.) What has everyone flocking? There's the unique lineup of flavors—banana pudding, lemonade, caramel truffle, and sangria, to name a few—and all-star showmanship—she and Kyree spin and swirl the airy delicacies with elaborate choreography. She continues to use the company as a way to discuss HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness (the Oscar William's mascot wears a red bowtie that resembles the red ribbon synonymous with the virus) and also donates 10% of all proceeds to HIV/AIDS research. And while she fills her weekends serving up pastel-goodies, Holland-Kornegay says she's the one who gets the real treat: "Anytime I can help put a smile on someone's face, it makes me smile too. I love that feeling." (In that case, we'll take two please!)