TAMPA - Erin Meagher, barely 30 years old, is a true believer in the future of coconut oil.
"Coconut oil sales are outpacing olive oil sales right now. It's exciting," said Meagher in the aisle of Rollin' Oats Market in Tampa.
The stylish former teacher at Osceola High School found her calling in 2009 just as reports of the healthful properties of coconut oil were making the news.
"I was teaching entrepreneurship. Then I found my product, the coconut oil that I believed in 100 percent, that I could get behind. Then I went and did it and just jumped in," remembered Meagher.
Last year, Meagher's fledgling start up sold $3 million dollars worth of Kelapo Extra Virgin Coconut Oil across the country. She sources the organic, free trade oil from Sri Lanka which explains the elephant logo. And she's proud to be the young job creator the Bay Area so desperately seeks to attract and keep.
"We have five employees now here in our office. We're trying to create those jobs that will create the sense that young people do want to live and work in Tampa Bay like we do," said Meagher .
Meagher's been successful in getting her product on the shelves of major chains like Whole Foods and Publix along with smaller grocers like Rollin' Oats in Tampa where even the manager uses the product.
"I use it on my skin and hair and I actually do it in smoothies and if I'm sauteing," said Gina Simmons.
Having tasted the oil out of the jar myself, I can report it has a faint smell and taste of coconut and the oily feeling dissipates quickly in the mouth.
Meagher hopes her sweet taste of success will inspire other young entrepreneurs.
"I think that's really important that they chase their dreams of whatever it is because that's what makes America great, right?"
Meagher says a financial "angel" helped bankroll her start up expenses. She plans an ambitious but gradual expansion in the future.