Cherri’s Chocol’art LLC
I grew up in Richland Mi on a 7 mile long spring feed lake with 4 siblings of which one was my identical twin. It was a wonderful place for a childhood as we could swim and water ski all summer long. We played hard but worked hard too, helping mom with chores and cooking. I learned early on not to take short cuts. Quality was key and she taught us by example. She was the best pie baker ever and with 5 mouths to feed, she would make extra money during the holidays selling her fruitcake and divinity fudge. I know I get my creative spirit from her. When I was 26 I started my own business, Gallery 344, a fine arts gallery and framing business that I loved and owned for more than 30 years, retiring about 6 years ago. My husband had just retired so I thought this was a good idea. Retirement didn’t last long. Maybe about 2 days and then I realized that I had a lot more to give and decided to do what I was truly passionate about and that was chocolate or as I call it Chocol’art. I started learning and reading anything I could get my hands on and taught myself amazing techniques and produced beautiful and delicious chocolates. Entered three bake off competitions and placed every time. Twice we won most creative and once we took third. We also make the best salted caramel that you have ever had. I had always made them for family but now we were expanding the original caramel to also include flavors such as Habanero, coffee lovers, Michigan Maple Pecan and many more. Oh, and by the way, my husband is no longer retired! He is in charge of all the caramel production. Not exactly what he had in mind but he loves it as much as I do. He loves how customers rave about them and he can take the credit. They are purchased and sent all over the world. Our daughter is also involved and left a good paying job to come to work for us and will one day take over. It’s nice to know that she has as much passion about chocolate as I do. She is currently in culinary school with a 4 point avg. and works for us full time. She has gotten her serve safe certification and that is really important for what we do and she is fantastic with customers. She pretty much grew up in an art gallery and can talk to anyone easily and is amazing with design and creativity. I am so proud of her. We have just recently opened a little shop in downtown Kalamazoo and people are really excited. We will out grow the kitchen at some point and will need an actual chocolate factory but for now we will be able to produce chocolate right in front of people and be able to engage them in The art of Chocolate!
This loan is special because:
More about this loan
Cherri’s Chocol’art has been making and selling chocolate and salted caramels in our licensed kitchen for about 6 years. We started selling them at farmers markets and also wholesaling them in stores such as Beer and Skittles, Food Dance, Tudor House Tea and Spice and many more. We currently do 4 farmers markets, including, Bank Street market, Texas Corners market, South Haven and Battle Creek markets. We recently signed a lease in a fantastic location on the Kalamazoo mall and are in process of completing the kitchen area so that we can actually produce the chocolates on site. We will eventually need a larger kitchen space for larger production but for now this works nicely and the retail showroom will stay. We will be able to produce and show amazing chocolate sculptures along with our chocolates and Ice Cream as well and will have a coffee bar at some point and an outside cafe. We have been open for less than a month but things are really going in the right direction and we continually get repeat business.
What is the purpose of this loan?
If we can produce product more efficiently and at a faster rate, then we will be able to keep our chocolate cases and shelves stocked with the best chocolate and therefore move more chocolate. Right now we are scrambling to keep up with production because we have one tempering machine for all three types of chocolate, (white, dark, milk) Also a partial dividing wall between the kitchen and showroom will keep things organized and running smoothly and a marble chocolate bar would be built into that wall. More than one person can dip chocolate during regular business hours. Right now I am working with chocolate from early in the morning to late at night and that will lessen the load for one. Dividing walls with chocolate bar 2,500 Tempering machine 2,000 Working capital 1,000
Years in operation: 3 years – 5 years