Shocolaate (Show-ko-latt) is an online gourmet chocolate company based in Tequesta, Florida owned and operated by mother and daughter team, Diana Pace and Cristina Vives; both of whom are truly passionate about the design, the creativity and the art of chocolate making. Shocolaate specializes in handmade truffles and chocolate treats. Shocolaate, Diana and Cristina embody their product with a very feminine victorian-esque motif, not to say that men wouldn’t purchase Shocolaate as corporate gifts, because they do but Shocolaate definitely has a feminine approach and appeal, that makes eating chocolate oh so pretty. This week is a double header interview, with the Spotlight questions answered by both Diana and Cristina. This week we go behind the scenes of Shocolaate.com and find out the inner workings of an online gourmet chocolate company. I present this week’s Spotlight Interview with Diana Pace and Cristina Vives.
South Florida Food and Wine: For those that don’t know about Shocolaate, tell us a bit about your business.
Diana: We are a small artisan truffle company and growing every day. Decandence in a single bite is what we strive for.
Cristina: Shocolaate is a place where people come to indulge, to ignite their senses, and to enjoy the ultimate truffle experience. At Shocolaate we tempt all of your senses starting with visual. After all as humans we eat with our eyes! Not only does it look good, but it tastes just as good if not better. I believe that the perfect balance to a great product is when it attracts all of your senses.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is a typical day like for you as co-owners of Shocolaate?
Diana: I am the creative designer behind the business, I make everything look pretty and we work together on creating new flavors. Social Media and making new contacts also. Truly my job is the visual part of Shocolaate I always thinking of ways to create a beautiful visual of our truffles. Cristy is the truffle magician. I am the creative designer. We work together and live together and it is a true honor to be working with my beautiful daughter.
Cristina: My mom and I play very different roles. Every morning we have a coffee meeting and talk about what our day is going to be like. We write down weekly goals and talk about what’s already been accomplished for the week. Then it’s down to business. Since we are a two-person team then we both have a lot of duties. We work out of a co-op bake shoppe. This is not our retail space, it’s simply where we do all of our production. If I’m not there rolling out truffles then I’m in a meeting selling our product. If I’m not doing that then I’m preparing for an event or chocolate pairing. In the midst of this chocolate storm I’m always on my social media pages tweeting, uploading photos on our Shocolaate Instagram, Facebooking our latest event and getting the word out any way possible. My mom plays a different role, she is behind the scenes. She’s our in-house accountant, our creative designer, and my biggest fan! She makes everything look beautiful while I make it taste beautiful. When we have a photoshoot for new truffles my mom is the one who makes the tablescapes and designs what the general photo is going to look like. We are a team an we work well together.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one thing you love the most about your job?
Diana: Working with my darling daughter and seeing little kids faces oogle when they see the chocolate
Cristina: For me it’s when I’m at a show or a chocolate pairing and I see with my own eyes people eating the truffles and for them to be satisfied and keep coming back asking for more. It is what keeps me going and helps me stay motivated. I love when people love what I give them!
South Florida Food and Wine: Who is the one person you most would like to share a box of chocolates with? And why?
Diana: At this moment it would be my dad who has recently passed away
Cristina: One of my biggest influencers in the chocolate world is Katrina Markoff. She owns a very successful chain of chocolate boutiques called Vosges. Since I started I’ve always looked up to her and would love to get her input!
South Florida Food and Wine: Out of your entire collection which chocolate is your favorite and why?
Diana: Star of India it is spicy and wonderful Cristy is the genius behind that one
Cristina: I love dark chocolate personally and I grew up eating orange slices and grew to love those. So I combined two of my favorite flavors Dark Chocolate and Orange and for a twist I added some guava jam. The result is like 4th of July in your mouth! It’s Dark Chocolate, Orange Zest, a freshly candied orange peel topped with Guava Jam. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I call it the Orange Guava.
South Florida Food and Wine: Who’s chocolate was the last you ate, other than your own?
Diana: Ghiadelli Hot Chocolate . Caramel with Salt
Cristina: My aunt just came back from a two week long cruise and on her ventures she always brings me back chocolate from other lands. So the last chocolate I tried was a dark chocolate bar from a company in Seattle called Frans’s Chocolates. It was a brick of dark chocolate filled with almonds and crunchy caramel. Actually very good, I love the crunch in the center.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
Diana: It is our own creation and that always presents a challenge! Our truffles are different! Just staying true to what we believe in .
Cristina: It’s HARD work. I encourage everyone to follow their dreams but they should know that dreams are not all sunshine and rainbows. It takes long hours, persistence, openness, and most importantly courage. The thing about Shocolaate is that it is a luxury. Since people don’t necessarily “need” it then I have to convince them why they absolutely do. That part is easy, with one taste they always come back for more. Since we also sell wholesale to large companies/hotels that’s when it becomes a tad difficult. It’s a little intimidating walking into a boardroom or an office full of chefs in their uniforms. One thing is that I never get discouraged if someone tells me no. Having a tough shell is part of the job. My mom is my biggest cheerleader and as long as I have her by my side then no task will be too difficult.
South Florida Food and Wine: It’s your day off, what do you do for fun?
Diana: Social Media!! Ha!! We are always working. I do love trying creative places to dine at and I love travel! We are always working we live together and are always coming up with creative ideas.
Cristina: Like most entrepreneurs, there is hardly ever a day off. But if we do then we go to Disney to blow off some steam. We are annual passholders and if you ever can’t find me at the bake shop or at home then that’s probably where I am.
South Florida Food and Wine: The gourmet specialty products business is not an easy business, what motivates you to be bigger, better, stronger?
Diana: I see how the clients love our truffles. It is a great experience to see others love your creation My daughter inspires me every day; she motivates me
Cristina: I believe that the products I make are comparable to the top brands that everyone knows about. What motivates me is when I hear people tell me over and over that I will be up there one day. My mom and I make a great team and are very marketable, we will continue to work our hardest and make sure that one day Shocolaate will be a brand known all over.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the one piece of advice you would offer entrepreneurs starting out today?
Diana: Work diligently every day in what you believe in, It is your dream and it is up to you to make it a reality
Cristina: A good friend once told me to begin with the end in mind. I would offer that piece of advice to anyone. When you start out know what your goals are. Make sure that your product is something that you yourself would buy in the store or pay top dollar for. Find a good/trustworthy team, be a good leader, always stay connected, participate in as many networking events as possible, and most importantly always have FUN with whatever you are doing and know that in the midst of a storm remember to stop, breathe, and remember that it will pass.
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