Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Growing Wholesale Business

Almost five years ago, I was trying to finish my nursing degree. I had started off my college career at Kansas State University before I found my "love" for nursing and transferred back here to Newman University to pursue it. To make a long story short, that "love" died out a semester away from receiving my RN License. (And no, you don't have to mention "Go Back...it's just one semester....it's worth finishing that degree". You are in a LONG, LONG, LONG line of people that have spoken those same words in one way or another.) A college education was extremely important to me so I finished up and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies.

During all this "mayhem", my good friend, Jacob, who happens to be one of Beth's step-sons, mentioned that Beth was planning on opening a chocolate store. I happily agreed to pick up some hours in the midst of finishing up school. Little did I know what I was getting myself into. Ha! Ha! I started out my job at Cocoa Dolce with the construction of the store where I was putting up floor boards, painting walls, unpacking dishes, etc. I gladly put down my paint brush and calking gun to don the "famous" white cotton glove to begin helping customers. I was soon promoted to store manager and trained a lot of the people that still work here today.

As the years have flown by, and our business continues to grow, my role has changed to Business Development. I handle all of our custom projects, manage our corporate customers and run our entire wholesale business. Yes, I am a busy girl! I think the most exciting aspect right now, is the wholesale side of the business. Last year at this time, we had 5 wholesale customers "under our belt". To date, we have 17 wholesale locations, all over the United States, and still a few in the works. I have two lists on the wall behind my computer. The first contains names and locations of our current 17 wholesale customers. The second is my "wish list" of potential new customers that I WANT!! So, who knows, we jumped from 5 to 17 in just one year. Let's see what the next year brings for us!!

And that's the sweet stuff!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Beer Tasting

Wednesday was a normal day at work, my night to close so in at 2 and off a little after 9pm. However, when I received Beth’s email, I almost lost my stomach. Due to her being under the weather, she had asked if I could help moderate the Spring Beer Tasting. Being the girl that almost took her college Speech class online, I tried coming up with any excuse not to take on this task. After a couple hours of freaking out, I decided to stop complaining about it and step up to the plate, I mean, I did get an ‘A’ in my Speech class!

Matt Coleman from Glazer’s Distributers helped guide me along the way through the six spring beers and six chocolates. My favorite beer was Abita Strawberry (New Orleans), which was paired with our famous Classic truffle, a 57% bittersweet ganache dusted in artisan cocoa powder. The crowd favorite seemed to be the Rogue-Double Mocha Porter (New Port, OR), which was obviously paired with our delicious Mocha. However, many of our guests tried the Strawberry Balsamic chocolate with it and liked that combination even better.

Three beers down, the guests started to seem a little easier to talk to and I felt a little happier to talk to them. It was a smaller crowd than the last St. Patty’s tasting (probably because everyone heard Beth was going to be M.I.A.) but it was a very talkative, knowledgeable crew who never made me feel like I had no idea what I was talking about. When 9 o’clock rolled around I felt like a celebrity; I was signing menus and taking pictures with our guests- ok, it was only one couple and they had said it was going with tradition (they had taken a picture with Beth and got her signature last time) but it made me feel very important! ~ Just a bit of flavor.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Easter 2010

Bunnies. That's all I have to say about Easter 2010. It seemed like our flop-eared bunnies were on everyone's Easter list this year. It doesn't help that Easter snuck up on us so close after Valentine's Day but even if we had an entire year to plan for this holiday there still wouldn't be enough flop-eared bunnies. We joked that they were part of the black market- we had to start packaging them in back to people wouldn't grab them off our preparation table before they even made it into their boxes! Too bad our flop-eared bunnies don't have the same reproduction tendencies as real rabbits, then we would have been golden! ~ Just a bit of flavor.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Death by Chocolate

On a recent Saturday, the Cocoa Dolce team saddled up and took our show on the road.  As a primary sponsor of Exploration Place's fundraiser, Death by Chocolate, our goal was to help create a tasty and memorable evening for the museum's guests.

Each year we take a themed approach to the event.  This year we chose the theme, "Peace, Love & Chocolate."    Taking a page from the 70's book, we themed our chocolates, booths and staff dress to match the decade.  We had custom chocolate transfers made of peace signs and took the approach of a protest rally table.  As you can see, Amber and Angie were ready for the evening!
We decided to bite off a big piece of this event and in addition to our table filled with chocolates, we also gave our apprentice chocolatiers, Lisa and James, an opportunity to do a demo to introduce themselves to the Wichita community.  Despite a super soft ganache and the pressure of performing, they represented us so well.  The reports were stellar and I think the chocolates were delicious as well!
I spent my evening holed up in a private room hosting a wonderful group of guests in a wine and chocolate tasting.  We paired three wines with three chocolates with brief explanations of each.  I discovered the later in the evening it became, the louder and more enthusiastic the groups became!  It was a blast and I think will become a popular event for the fundraiser.

The museum tells us it was their most successful event to date.  We agree!  Not only do we get a chance to strut our stuff, our time and chocolate donations contribute to our fantastic children's science museum.  That is a win-win!  So if you are in the area, mark your calendars for March 26, 2011 for your own Death by Chocolate experience!

It's a sweet life!