Last Thursday, we officially launched jcoco in New York City with the help of chef Amanda Freitag of Chopped and Margaret Purvis CEO of the New York Food Bank. Amanda prepared a 5 star, 5 course meal using ingredients from our jcoco bars including toasted quinoa lamb meatballs, sesame agave yogurt with harissa, and cayenne & Veracruz orange glazed pork belly with wilted kale. Members of the press and friends sampled dishes paired with wines from the Northwest and experienced first-hand, the inspiration behind “couture chocolate”. Jean spoke about the core pillars of the brand:
• Five-star flavors
• Portioned for sharing
• Giving Back to our community
Margaret issued a stirring plea to end hunger where we live and demonstrated her enthusiastic support for jcoco. All in all it was a great success and we look forward to planning our next event (possibly in SF) in the new year. Following the event, a gift to the FBNY of more than 1,000 fresh healthy servings was made a result of a #jcocogives campaign which kicked off the same evening.
Posting from Jean: December 13
As a child of the 70’s, I grew up watching, laughing and often quoting Saturday Night Live skits. Gilda Radner was one of the original dream team of comedians who would change the landscape of comedy in the 70s and 80s. When she died of ovarian cancer in 1989, I felt robbed of too many years of laughter.
Gilda told friends that having cancer made her part of an exclusive club that she’d rather not belong to. She said the hardest part was having no community to turn to who understood what she was going through. She felt all alone.
Gild’s Club, founded in 1995 by her husband Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka himself in the class version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) is all about providing this sense of belonging and understanding to anyone with or affected by cancer. This includes kids whose parents have the disease and are scared to death about losing that parent, but no one around them wants to talk about it. Gilda’s Club offers support groups, lectures, summer camps, socials, references, connections and a place to go when you need your spirits lifted. The best part of all is that they do all of this for free. There are no boundaries to getting the help and support you need during this battle for life. After all, cancer itself does not discriminate.
I love how pure Gilda’s mission is. I love how selfless the director and staff are about delivering the mission. When I watch them in action, I am struck by how very comfortable they make their clients feel. Everyone who walks through those doors is a friend and leaves with a sense of hope and belonging.
This Saturday, Seattle Chocolates is going to donate 25% of all sales in our retail and on line stores, as a salute to Anna, Marlene, the Gilda’s Club staff and in memory of the late great Gilda Radner. Please help us support this great organization as you shop for your chocolates this holiday season.
Posting from HQ: December 3
One of the greatest parts about being a small business is that we can be ourselves and live out what we believe in every day. No red tape or complicated corporate structure to weigh us down.
And around here we believe life is in the details. So we spend a lot of time fussing over every little thing, like bringing you only the purest all natural ingredients, even if it means making a little less profit. Like wrapping every chocolate in gift-worthy style.
And like Jean handwriting cards on behalf of our online customers so that their chocolate gifts arrive with a personal touch. Necessary? No. A good use of time for the CEO? Hard to say.
The way we roll? Absolutely.
Since we are on the subject…this was a great little shout out for small businesses we found a few weeks ago on one of our favorite style blogs coco & kelley!
Posting from HQ: May 13th
Thanks for coming to the Mother’s Day event at the retail store yesterday. We hope your Mom enjoys her treats!
At Seattle Chocolates we have a great appreciation for this day because an overwhelming number of us are Moms. That includes our fearless leader Jean, who took over as CEO shortly after her youngest started kindergarten. Ever since, Jean has created the kind of culture that understands the amazing juggle, the crazy compromise, the irreplaceable gift that is motherhood. So when it comes time for that 2nd grade piano recital, or it’s the day of the senior class presentation, we get to be there. Which makes the time we spend at Seattle Chocolates even sweeter.
So we thought today would be a good day to say thank you, Jean. Happy Mother’s Day!
Excerpt from Jean’s Diary: Machame Camp 9,350 ft to Shira Camp 12,500 ft
Today the weather was glorious and sunny and the perfect temperature. Our hike was steep & rocky but much easier for me than yesterday. The view was magnificent and we could see Shira and Kili most of the day – gorgeous.
Out of the rain forest and into the Alpine meadow.
I slept great despite the fact that I started feeling nauseated at bedtime and threw up for relief. Learned to use the pee funnel but filled my liter container so at 5am I headed out to the porta potty where I encountered the (almost) full moon casting it’s light in the peak of Kilimanjaro. It was one of the most magnificent things I have ever seen and it even brought tears to my eyes. I woke up Jill, Niel (doing push-ups) and Joe because you only end up with that view once in your lifetime. Soon the whole camp was awake and wondering if we were departing early for our hike !
Shira Peak from our 12K ft campsite
Kilimanjaro peak from our 12K ft campsite, full moon rising
Exerpt from Jean’s Diary: Machame Gate 5,380 ft to Machame Camp 9,350 ft
The group from Seattle: Alex, Garrett, Niel, Jean, Joe and Jill
We got up early and took a 90 minute car ride to the Machame gate, registered with the park service and began our climb!
SCC at the starting gate, Machame
It rained this morning and the path was muddy and slippery. This day we climbed 1000 meters and it was hard! We were in a rainforest for most of our 6 hour climb.
We quickly became comfortable going to the toilet in the woods. We still have not laid eyes on the mountain – too foggy & cloudy. The rain quickly let up and the weather was pleasant and we climbed in short sleeves. I consumed 4 liters of water! When we arrived in camp I was exhausted and overwhelmed by the camping aspect of this trip. Packing has been so confusing for a camping neophyte and I didn‟t know what I needed or where it was in my bag and I was frustrated and tired.
We arrived at camp at 5pm and sunset is at 6pm so it was beat the clock to cleanup and get organized before dark.
Dinner was good and the group we are traveling with is awesome – every member nice & easy to be with. Our guide John is a man of few words but great at giving helpful survival tips.
The blue hue of the mess tent.
Best surprise of this trip: I slept pretty well with no Ambien & woke up feeling happier about the trip.
As we promised, for the next few weeks our blog will be dedicated to telling the story of Jean, Niel and Joe’s experience climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro last summer as part of the Fred Hutchinson Climb to to Fight Breast Cancer. We begged Jean to keep a diary. Lucky us… she did! We hope you enjoy her notes from the trail.
Excerpt from Jean’s Diary: Gear check and tour of Arusha, Tanzania
Arrived in Kilimanjaro after two long flights. Toured Arusha and were safeguarded by at least 10 Tanzanian men who took us to the center of Africa (n/s from Egypt to S.Africa) which was marked by a clock tower with a Coca-Cola logo. The men were very proud of their town and its embassy and they took us to the cemetery reserved for dignitaries – a poorly maintained, over grown graveyard. They took us through the market quickly and to a wholesaler for tanzanite. We were struck by how uninterested they seemed in selling their product; only to later learn that there is not much tanzanite left in the only mine for this precious stone in the world. This was not a very productive harvest year.
The day ended with a dinner in Arusha at an Italian & Indian restaurant where two Tanzanian acrobats entertained us with cirque de soleil acrobatics, fire eating and limbo stunts.
I learned in the morning’s equipment check that my poles were missing and I packed way too big of an air mattress! I later was glad I didn‟t know how silly I was because it was super comfortable and I slept great the entire trip.
Alex and Jill Heijer equipment check.
Niel Campbell with extra boots brought for porters.
Posting from HQ: November 21, 2011
Thanksgiving week has arrived. In Seattle that means leaves are falling in city neighborhoods and snow is forecast in the mountains. There is something about watching the seasons change so dramatically that makes us aware of the year gone by.
Looking back over the last year, we’re grateful for a lot of things. But most of all we appreciate that however much we grow and change as a company, it still feels like a family around here. Sure, we all share a love of chocolate, but it goes beyond that. Last fall, Jean, Niel (President), and Joe (Controller) decided to take on the challenge set out by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to Climb to Fight Breast Cancer. They all had their separate reasons for climbing but together they set their eyes on Kilimanjaro and the goal of raising $20,000 for breast cancer research. After 10 months of training, they all reached the 19,340 ft summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. What a team!
We think their successful summit is so cool, that over the next few weeks we will be sharing some excerpts from the diary Jean wrote during her climb. Stay tuned for stories of frozen water bottles, sore feet and watching the moonrise over Kilimanjaro.
Happy Thanksgiving from our ‘family’ to yours.
Posting from the Retail Store: Nov 5, 2011
We want to shout out a big thank you to everyone who came to our Grand Opening today! As some of you know, the store opening was part of our 20th Anniversary Celebrations and we must say that today really felt like a party. It was a blast to hear customers talk so passionately about their favorite Seattle flavors and to help some of you get your holiday shopping done. We’re also guessing that a few of you now have a pretty nice chocolate stash built up for yourselves. Who knows, could be a long, cold winter. Chocolate helps!
We were particularly touched that a few special friends came by. Anna Gottlieb, founder of Gilda’s Club Seattle was there. Clearly she has a future in retail if she ever wants one! And to those of you out there who purchased one of our Gilda’s Bars (100% profits benefit Gilda’s Club Seattle) look for a golden ticket in your bar – one of you won a factory tour today so we hope to hear from you. Here is a picture of Anna and Jean.
Bri Seeley designed some beautiful dresses inspired by our truffle bars. So fabulous Bri!
And Joan Kelly from Fashion First came with her daughter and friends.
And so many more..thank you Seattle!
Posting from the Retail Store:
November 3, 2011
We love to shop. Always have. Especially when we track down that perfect hard to find item that has been missing from our lives. But what really makes our day is the whole retail experience. Music. Lights. Sales people with great tips. That is why we are so proud to announce…drum roll please…the grand opening of Seattle Chocolate’s very own, fabulous, retail showroom!!
Entering the store is like walking into one of our beautiful gift boxes. You are surrounded by the bold, colorful imagery that is our signature style, and yet connected to the factory where all of our chocolate is made.
So Seattle, now you can get all of the same beautiful stuff you find online, or at your favorite retailer, right from the source. The deals on seconds are unbelievable. Be there this Saturday for 25% off everything, fabulous freebies, and sampling to your hearts content!