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.
Being stared at by strangers is something I have become very accustomed to. Not because I am a beautiful, ethereal being that catches everyone's attention (but I will take it if that's what you're thinking), but in the way that I am a Black woman, a Black person, and people tend to notice my presence. I don't think there is a Black person out there that can deny knowing what it's like to be stared at by a random person.