Hello, chocolate lovers! It’s been a particularly busy and amazing summer for us. We’ve hired more staff, built new relationships with other chocolate companies and coffee shops, and we’re starting to feel better about our communication infrastructure, both for team and production. That means we are starting to think seriously about our next growth step, whatever that might be. But first, let’s talk about fun things you can do this month.
Northwest Chocolate Festival
The Northwest Chocolate Festival is just around the corner, November 12-13 at Pier 91! This is one of the biggest festivals of chocolate in the country. Every year the dynamic and culture of chocolate in America seems to change, get more interesting. This will be our 7th year in attendance, and we’ve definitely seen a shift from pioneer roots to a focus on refinement and quality. And, every year, someone brings something new that blows our minds: traditional Ecuadorian sipping chocolate, a tasting flight of an origin bean prepared in slightly different ways, chocolate that literally says “do not eat this” on the package because it’s so spicy. Come taste, learn, and enjoy with us.
We recommend coming early, staying late, bringing a bottle of water and a salty snack, and carrying a shoulder bag for your goodies.
Early bird discount is still available online here: www.nwchocolate.com/
Corporate Order Alert
If you are interested in chocolate for corporate gifting or holiday parties, it is easier on everyone to place your order during November so we can plan production cycles. We have many different solutions for you – email me if you’d like details: firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome Our New Team Members
“Hey there! I'm Matt, the new retail manager at our shop in Pioneer Square. I've always loved fine foods with fascinating histories like chocolate, wine, cocktails and tea. Intrigue is a perfect place for me because I get to nerd out about food, history and science all at once! I'll be down here at the shop a lot and I'm looking forward to getting to know our regulars and exploring the neighborhood.”
"Hi, I'm Val! I sling chocolate at our shop in Pioneer Square. I'm also a tour guide for the Seattle By Foot Coffee Crawl, and I used to be a tour guide at a chocolate factory, so clearly I love getting paid to dish out tasty samples AND interesting facts! Plus I love our awesome, ever-changing truffle flavors. What more could you want? Well I also do stand-up and sketch comedy, so who knows--you might even get a free joke with that purchase..."
"Working at the shop collides both my artist and technical side, much like my photography. You know you're a science nerd when you study colorimetry for fun, and read for pleasure about optical engineering. Stop by Intrigue and talk shop with me! I'll tell you all about that z-axis focusing while you sip on some amazing hot cocoa."
Team Social Media Support
Social media is a hot topic for a small business because it’s frankly very hard to do well. How many pictures of the truffles do you really want to see, ya know? When it falls to one person already wearing many hats, consistent posting is difficult to maintain. So we are trying a new approach: opening up communication to the whole team.
We are still figuring out what this looks like, but for starters our Twitter and Instagram accounts are getting frequent input from the shop staff. Here are some of the beautiful photos that have come from our team already:
Our only rule so far has been to make each post worthwhile and real, not all about sales. Conversation is far more interesting and it’s a principle that guides everything we do. That also means, though, that our voice will be shared on those channels and we’ll learn what that implies as we go. When you “like” a post, know that it is influencing what we put more of into the world in the future.
Seattle gets really dark in the winter. People think that it rains here all the time. It doesn’t really, but it is nearly always grey and daylight hours are short. Lighting is key. In preparation, we added several fixtures to the back wall, and a lighting track to the front windows. We are having a flickering problem with the lights in the windows (any of you know why LED lights will flicker with more than one on the track?), so we have only the one light there at the moment. It has already made a big difference to keeping the shop feeling cozy and welcoming.
One of our goals this year was to build our wholesale client list. At that goal we’ve had limited success; we jumped into the water, found out it was a little chilly, and climbed out. So what happened?
I suppose the overarching issue is that we, the whole team, are not good at “pushing” a product. Our focus is on luring people into having a good time and a good experience, much more of a “pull” approach.
We are changing our strategy to align more with what we are good at. We are going to double down on our other goal this year: creating good content we can share with you all. If you are in a place or position where you want to use our cocoa mix to make mochas at your coffee shop, or serve chocolate at your winery or event, you can contact us when you’re ready. We’ll work to make that process as easy as possible.
This is the really exciting news and a completely pre-mature announcement. We’ve made some headway and are moving on these. We’re looking forward to sharing all our thoughts on this topic soon!