The passion for chocolate making was so vividly illustrated on a recent trip my husband and I made to Sonoma, California visiting not only wineries, but some of the small shops and businesses in the area. The sign caught my eye: Wine Country Chocolates. Of course, we had to see what that was all about! The aroma of fragrance of fresh chocolate immediately drew me in as we entered the small shop.
It didn’t take long for the chocolatier, at least in his seventies, to capture us with his passion for chocolate making. We learned of his skill in the craft, the shop ran mostly by his wife and daughter, his historical knowledge and plenty of interesting trivia as he wove story after story about the different grades and types of chocolate. We learned about the cocoa beans that came from Africa and how the monkeys knock the large pods off the tree. The meat of the pod then turns white and sweet which is a feast for the monkeys. After the monkeys eat the white sweet meat, they spit out the beans, the cocoa beans.
Pure Cocoa Beans
Those spit-out beans are the pure cocoa beans, which we learned is actually a super-food! As the chocolatier further explained the process of chocolate making, he then took out a well-worn book to show us the machine used for making the very best chocolate, which of course he professed they used and made at their little shop! I quickly stepped over to the window where his wife was sitting in a temperature-controlled room, dipping truffle after truffle in the liquid chocolate. The delicacies were then placed on a platter and inspected for quality.
I realized at this point I could help this small shop if they wanted to expand. I saw they had a very nice website and shipped most anywhere in the country, but why didn’t they have online videos explaining some of their process in chocolate making? They could even produce online courses and I honestly thought they’d have a great following, expand their brand and thus, sales! To do this, though, would take some amount of capital, quality help and a larger facility. That may be a choice they’ve already made with the desired lifestyle they’ve created in their small town.
After several delectable tastes, of course we had to make a purchase, which did not disappoint! In fact, we bought more than we originally planned after learning more about the handmade chocolates and most of our purchase did not last past the first evening!
Passion for Product
Our little chocolatier had worked in this little shop for ten years, but it sounded like he had been there for at least forty years! I was so sold, not only on his knowledge and excitement for the product, but on the product itself! I was ready to order all my following year’s holiday gifts right then and there!
It really demonstrated to me how strong a passion for a product comes through in sales. Chocolate making was a fascinating subject for our chocolatier and his passion not only fascinated us, but sold us on a quality product that did not disappoint.
When we went to a neighboring town the following day, I saw the familiar Wine Country Chocolates sign hanging outside another small shop. Could it be the same product? Indeed, it was! I was thrilled they had expanded in their region and realized they had probably weighed the options on how much they could produce and how far to expand with their desired lifestyle. I figured they had defined their reach and had goals that were in line with that plan. That is a principle I relay to many who attend my events: Your business plan should reflect your desired lifestyle, income needs and schedule. Sure, there are sacrifices, especially at first, but with a good plan and structure, there is a greater possibility of success in achieving the lifestyle you desire and purpose you intend to fulfill.