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Alumna Felicia Evans Long ’94 Finds Her Sweet Spot as a Successful Entrepreneur

Felicia Evans LongGrowing up in Lumberton, North Carolina, Felicia Evans Long caught the entrepreneurship bug at an early age. As a young girl, she was the go-to supplier of sugary snacks for her middle school. Classmates knew to look for her by the lockers or in the hallways to purchase their favorite treats from Felicia’s book bag.

“We didn’t call it entrepreneurship back then,” she says with a laugh. “We probably would’ve just called it a hustle.”

Her passion for candy and natural business skills would come in handy when she and her husband, Tim Long, opened the Sweet Candy Café in downtown Lumberton in 2012. Tim and Felicia had been together for 15 years and were living their dream life together. The couple felt unstoppable when tragedy struck.

In April of 2014, Felicia’s brother passed away. Tim died unexpectedly later that year while visiting California. After losing her brother and husband just months apart, Felicia’s life was shattered and she withdrew from the world.

“Probably for the first two years I was straight up in isolation,” said Felicia. “It was to the point that when I went home to visit in Lumberton, I would stay in a hotel so I didn’t have to see family members or have anyone ask me questions. It was just too emotional.”

Eventually, Felicia started to piece her life back together. She joined a support group of other women who had lost their husbands at an early age, and the community of people who could commiserate and understand what she was going through helped.

I really felt like I was going to lose my mind. I needed to be around people that could relate,” she says. “These are all women that have lost their husbands suddenly, so I’m thankful for them. Talking to them gave me some normalcy. I needed to be around people who understood."

Felicia is also sharing her story with the wider world in hopes that it will help other women experiencing similar struggles. She is a contributor to the newly released book, Beyond Her Reflection: Women Stories of Unmasking and Standing Boldly in Their Truth. The book is a compellation of testimonies by women who found themselves tested by life's obstacles and had to overcome tragedy. The chief author is Tammy Woodard, another Shaw alumna.

Today, four years after the passing of her husband and brother, Felicia is coping well. She’s also keeping Sweet Candy Café going and their memory alive.

“It’s been tough,” she says. “I think the store has been therapy because they both loved the store. That’s my motivation - to keep the store going in their memory.”

Felicia is also heavily involved in charity work. She founded the Timothy Rodney Long Memorial Scholarship Fund Scholarship, which is awarded annually to a deserving student attending a New Jersey Preparatory Catholic school in Tim’s home state. The candy shop has also supported recovery efforts from Hurricane Matthew and Felicia works with local kids to teach them entrepreneurship skills through another program she started, Candy Kids Wear Blazers (CKWB).

If you’re visiting Lumberton or happen to be traveling down I-95 when a sugar craving hits, stop by Sweet Candy Café. Felicia has something for you no matter what your taste.

“We get all kinds of customers coming in from off the interstate so we try to make sure that we have something for everyone.”

Felicia also encourages people to come in to try something new or seek out hard-to-find items.

“If you’re looking for something different, something retro, something nostalgic, Sweet Candy Café is the place,” she says. “We like to give our customers something different, so we have candy from the Netherlands, we have candy from Sweden, we have all candy from all over the world. The goal is to expand your pallet.”

Find out more about Sweet Candy Café online at:
Web: | IG: @SweetCandyNC | Facebook: @SweetCandyCafe

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