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From Nurse to Chocolatier: The Secret Sauce That Made Me A Business Woman

People

Social media is a lot like Karma. When you show your true self, put love into what you do and care for other people, you get rewarded in the most unexpected ways. At least, this is what happened to me when I decided to start my new chocolate business in San Francisco.


I knew I couldn't fake it, and there was no need to: brigadeiros, tiny chocolate balls that belong to the traditional Brazilian cuisine, have always been part of my life. As the eldest of three sisters, when my mother needed help making chocolate she chose me. We would spend hours in our kitchen in Itapeva, São Paulo with our hands dirty and the biggest smiles on our faces. But for some reasons chocolate didn't become a big part of my life until later on. I chose nursing first because I loved to take care of people and make them feel better. Then I found out that there was another way I could take care of the people I loved: making chocolates that would make them happy. So, with a jump back to my childhood and an endless support from my husband, my sweet journey began: TinyB Chocolate was born in 2014.

They say that every successful recipe should have at least one secret ingredient. Well, it wasn't a rare spice or an unknown type of cacao that brought me success as a female chocolatier. It was actually the simplest ingredient of all: authenticity.

Talking about our journey and showing the people behind the company became ingrained parts of our branding strategy.

At the beginning of our business, my husband and I set up the website and the Social Media accounts to showcase our brigadeiros at their best. Rich, mouthwatering and delicious, they looked like precious little gems. We took great pictures from interesting angles, with great lighting and sharp colors to make people want to buy our chocolates. However, we soon realized that something was missing: it was us, our stories and our souls. Our customers told us that they could feel the love and the energy that went into making our brigadeiros when they bit into them. But could they feel the same from our pictures or videos?

The products alone told only half of the story. We had to take the leap and put ourselves out there together with our brigadeiros. This is how more faces started appearing in our Social Media pictures and our captions became more personal and detailed. We also started a blog to share important information not only about our company but behind every flavor and ingredient we were using in our brigadeiros. Talking about our journey and showing the people behind the company became ingrained parts of our branding strategy. We were stunned by the results: customers both online and offline appreciated our honesty immensely and became even more attached to our business. We had found our secret sauce!

There is something about food that can't really be hidden. The feelings and the mood of the chef or chocolatier while cooking always seem to show in the plate. It's like consumers can taste it when you've had a bad day. The food doesn't seem to come together. It just doesn't feel right. So I know that whenever I make brigadeiros, I am not just preparing chocolate. I am creating a human connection. I know that people will be able to tell my intentions just by eating my chocolates. The same goes for our online presence and overall branding.

When we take a picture, or we put together the message we want to communicate, we prioritize authenticity, transparency, and honesty. Consumers are not as naïve as we think they are. They can tell when a business fakes passion for what it does and sells. Especially chocolate lovers, they are becoming increasingly demanding not only for the quality of their chocolates but also for the people who make them. Nowadays chocolate consumers want to see faces, hear the details and get to know what happens behind the scenes. If they don't find transparency and authenticity, they will rarely trust a brand or would want to buy from it.

As I keep growing my chocolate business, one of my most important goals is to stay true to myself and communicate the love that goes into my chocolates. Brigadeiros might call for few ingredients and an easy process, but here's the tricky part: without pouring your soul into what you are doing, not even the simplest recipe will come out right. I finally understood that authenticity is what keeps family businesses like us successful in the long run. Although they help, it's not spectacular images or fancy ingredients that will keep us in business. It's the love that we put into our products, and how effectively we manage to communicate that love to our customers online and offline.

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?