The Chocolate Therapist is a Littleton, Colorado-based shop specializing in hand-crafted and all-natural chocolates and gourmet coffee. We sat down with owner Julie Nygard to learn more about her business and why she chose CoverWallet.
How did you first start your business?
My professional background was in the wholesale sporting goods industry, but I’ve always been passionate about nutrition. I studied it my whole life and have also have my nutrition certification. I really wanted to leave corporate America and write a book about nutrition, and that was right when the health benefits of chocolate broke and I thought, that’s my book!
In 2005 I wrote "The Chocolate Therapist: A User's Guide to the Extraordinary Health Benefits of Chocolate.” (The book was recently re-released in November 2018 with all new information by Turner Publishing.) I started to speak about the health benefits of chocolate, and that led to teaching chocolate and wine pairing classes, traveling on cruise ships as a guest lecturer and hosting corporate events.
I used another company's chocolate at the start but decided to start my own chocolate line to support the clean-eating concepts I was promoting in my book. I ended up buying the shop that was making my brand. Ironically, it was October 2008, right during the terrible market downtown. But I learned that people really need chocolate when the going gets rough. We were able to push through and become successful.
Have you always had a passion for chocolate in particular?
I’ve loved chocolate from childhood but really got into it a few years before writing my book because I had stopped eating sugar except for holidays. When the holidays came around, I only indulged in amazing chocolate. Not only did I become very educated about chocolate, but I also became very particular about the kind of chocolate I was eating. Without realizing it I had become a chocolate connoisseur.
What kind of customers come to your shop?
Everyone loves chocolate! We have customers from two to 102, both men and women. It's a great business because people are emotionally connected to chocolate and ours is very good. We even have customers who come in and bring our chocolate to countries all over the world when visiting their friends and family. It's fun to hear our customers say the only thing their relatives ask for is chocolate from our shop--very flattering!
What are some of the health benefits of chocolate?
People can include chocolate in an everyday diet, but it’s so important to focus on high-quality chocolate. For health, it should be at least 70% dark cocoa, and keep it to one ounce a day or less.
Every single class I teach I talk about how cocoa powder is highly condensed fruit that’s very rich in antioxidants, so there are so many benefits in that. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s about the quality and eating dark chocolate. I encourage people to train themselves to make the switch if they like milk chocolate, and we even have a bar called “Going to the Dark Side” to help get the job done!
As a small business owner, what’s the best piece of advice you could give to someone thinking of starting their own business?
Hire a good team. I did way too much myself at the beginning. If I’d had a more diverse team in place I could have grown the business faster. For example, I don’t like accounting, but I used to do it on my own and it took away time I could have used to expand the business. Once I hired an accountant, I could focus on marketing and sales and the growth easily paid for the accountant.
How did you discover CoverWallet, and what has your customer experience been like?
I discovered CoverWallet online. I was doing my own research and got proposals from two or three different companies, but they were so expensive. I thought there had to be a different way to do this, and then I found your company.
I liked the fact that someone did all the research for me, and then I was sent several options to pick the right choice for my budget and coverage. Not only that but I was also able to get a policy with Liberty Mutual, which is a company I really trust. After I received the policy, we had to make a change and your service rep was right on top it. He got it approved in less than 24 hours. Overall I’m happy with the service, the whole process was so seamless.
The Chocolate Therapist prides itself on making all-natural chocolate free of dyes, preservatives or artificial ingredients, and also offers gluten-free and soy-free products, all of which can be paired well with wine, spirits, and beer. Be sure to stop by Julie’s store if you’re in the Denver area. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.