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From the law to sweeter life: What it's like to open a vegan sweet shop

She's the solicitor with a sweet tooth. Just months after qualifying Jasmehar Mavi gave up her law career to set up her own vegan sweet shop.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business
Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

From cherry cola chewies to classic fruit jellies, she offers plenty to tempt those with a craving for something sugary.

It all started when the 24-year-old was struck by a brainwave after struggling to find many sweets without gelatine that she could enjoy with her vegan partner, Herkern Thind, 28.

Frustrated by the lack of choice, Jaz, who was a vegetarian at the time, decided the only thing left to do was to create and sell them herself.

So Yumintum sweets was born and now she is selling a range of 10 different sweets online and in pubs and theatres across the Midlands.

Since launching in November, Jasmehar, who had converted to veganism a month earlier, has found her products to be in great demand.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

"People were surprised that I gave up my job as a solicitor to concentrate on the business full-time because I had worked hard to get to where I am.

"But I'm very passionate about what I am doing and I didn't feel I could give both my full attention. Fighting for justice is what law is all about but I feel I am now fighting for justice for animals and for the environment," says Jasmehar, who had been working in Birmingham city centre.

She believes she has found a gap in the market by setting up a company offering a completely vegan range of sweets.

"I wanted to buy my partner some sweets for our anniversary but they needed to be vegan. Marks & Spencer do some gelatine free sweets like the Percy Pigs but there is very little else. I knew I had to try doing something myself," says Jasmehar.

The sweets, which also include bubble bottles, strawberry fizz, unicorn twists and fruit pops, are produced in Loughborough and then hand-packaged by the former Queen Mary’s High School pupil.

And they have been given the seal of approval by her partner Herkern, who works as a software developer and also helps with the business.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

"He loves them. He's helped me a lot with the website and with business knowledge. I've used his brain and my family have helped too," says Jasmehar, who lives in Walsall.

She hopes the sweets will appeal to people who aren't vegetarian and vegan as well as those who looking for another option.

They only include plant-based ingredients and don't contain the gelatine commonly used as a gelling agent by many manufacturers.

Instead, pectin, a naturally-occurring found in berries, apples and other fruit, is used in its place.

"They are vegan because they don't contain any gelatine which comes from the bones of cows and pigs. We say they are plant-based magic.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

"It just seems totally unnecessary to kill animals just so we can have sweets. I've proven it's not necessary because these sweets that don't contain any gelatine look and taste exactly the same.

"I know everybody isn’t vegan or vegetarian and I'm not looking to convert anybody but I want to change the perception that vegan food can only be enjoyed by vegans," explains Jasmehar.

Her fledgling business took an unexpected turn when she was contacted out of the blue by someone looking to buy vegan wedding favours.

"We've branched out into weddings purely because of Instagram. A lady messaged me on Instagram as she wanted vegan sweets for her wedding.

"I made personalised boxes with a label saying 'thank you for celebrating with us'. I had another wedding order on the back of it," says Jasmehar.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

The sweets are also on sale at Lichfield Garrick for theatregoers to munch on during productions as well as Cherry Reds Bar & Cafe and The Clean Kilo, a zero-waste supermarket, both in Birmingham.

Veganism has sky-rocketed in recent years and in fact this month has been dubbed Veganary by a charity that encourages people to try being vegan for January.

It's expected that a record number of 250,000 people from 193 countries will have taken the month-long pledge.

"Veganism is becoming more popular. I think it's an awareness of where our food comes from, what happens before it gets to our plate. There is more awareness of the environment and climate change and the impact it's having.

"We are just caretakers of earth, we don't own it. The world is not for us it's for further generations and we need to look after it.

"There are so many alternatives now like mock-meats that are really tasty," Jasmehar tells Weekend.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

"Our goal is to provide vegan sweets that look, taste and feel the even better than the regular sweets, without any animal products, thereby reducing people’s meat intake.

"We want to make a positive impact on the environment, by doing our part to reduce climate change, which can be done by reducing animal products. It is one of the easiest ways to make a difference," she adds.

Jasmehar is committed to growing her business and hopes to expand her range of sweets in the near future. At the moment, the treats are made in Loughborough but she hopes to move production closer to home by setting up her own factory.

The entrepreneur, who also sells through Amazon and Etsy, is also looking at opening a pop-up shop later this year.

She is delighted with the response her sweets have had in just a few months. "A lot of vegans have said they haven't enjoyed sweets as much for so long.

"People who aren't vegan are also enjoying these sweets. I'm very excited about this company and I don't have any regrets about giving up my job," says Jasmehar.

Jaz Mavi, from Walsall, who has given up a career in law to concentrate on her vegan sweets business

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