Hermitage teen Cynthia Torrence balances successful ‘NIU’ business with high school

SHARPESVILLE, Pa. (WKBN) – What were you like at 17? Most of us were worried about getting into college, graduating high school or getting a job. One local teen is juggling all of that and running a growing beverage business.

Commercials are airing for NIU, a line of low-sugar fruity drinks. It’s the brainchild of 17-year-old Cynthia Torrence from Hermitage.

“I started this with my mom when I was seven for a fundraiser,” Cynthia said.

Cynthia had the idea to use a family recipe to help raise funds for their church, so they started experimenting with different flavored batches.

“The first variation was horrible because we were trying to do low sugar,” said April Torrence, Cynthia’s mother.

After nailing down a recipe, they started making more of their low-sugar drink.

“We have a lot of diabetic customers,” Cynthia said.

“We started out in the kitchen then got that unwanted call from the FDA… Are you doing this in a commercial kitchen? If not, we need to license your kitchen and get it registered,” April said.

They went on to find a manufacturer after linking up with a local business incubator, The Entrepreneurship Academy at LindenPointe.

Now, Cynthia has been recognized with a certificate of achievement from Representative Mark Longietti.

She is also teaming up with other local businesses for a charity mixer to promote her new product launch.

“What I call the NIU Tropical Sunrise, which was a green smoothie,” said Erin Houston, with the Shenango Valley Urban League.

All of this is during her senior year of high school.

“I have cut into her social time, like, we’re here today. This is Christmas break,” April said.

“I’ve been doing it so long it’s kind of just a natural thing. I think the hardest part is balancing high school with it because I’m in my senior year. I honestly don’t know what’s harder, entrepreneurship or college applications,” Cynthia said.

You can purchase orders online here.

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