Beginnings: Opened in November 2017, owners Steve and Kim Taylor invested his 401(k) retirement to launch the company as a platform to improve people’s lives.
Goals: The Taylors set out to produce high quality chocolate that improves the lives of cocoa farmers, helps restore the environment and makes customers happy. To accomplish that, they start with beans sourced from fairly paid farmers in Haiti and craft their artisan chocolate in small batches. They also donate profits to human trafficking survivors in Richmond and human freedom projects in Haiti.
Best part of the chocolate business: “Watching people’s faces when they try our artisan chocolate samples for the first time,” says president Steve Taylor. “Also, seeing the good we’re bringing to cocoa farmers in Haiti as well as victims of human trafficking in Richmond.”
Availability: Taylor Made Chocolates can be found at For the Love of Chocolate in Carytown, at the 241 E. Hundred Road factory store in Chester, and online at tmchoclate.com.
Beginnings: Chocolate Cravings started in 2007. “I began with making peanut butter and buttercream balls and giving them out to family and friends at the holidays several years before I started my business,” says owner Cathy Churcher. Before long, people started asking her to make them available for sale, so she took her talents to the next level by attending the Ecole Chocolat, a professional school of chocolate arts, to become a chocolatier. She also traveled to Costa Rica to visit cocoa plantations see the process up close.
Goals: To provide the best quality chocolate for her customers at a reasonable price. Creatively, she seeks to work with customers to create custom chocolate flavors. “I consider my chocolate an affordable luxury,” Churcher says.
Richmond favorites: Besides smoked almond sea salt and ginger cardamom barks, the most popular treats are brownies available at Urban Farmhouse and Market. Chocolate dipped caramels are another local favorite, while at a Williamsburg farmers market, it’s her boozy truffles featuring Bushmills and Wild Turkey that get scooped up first.
Availability: Chocolate Cravings treats are on the shelves at For the Love of Chocolate, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Little House Green Grocery, Emerson's Wine and Cheese and Churcher’s shop at 6929 Lakeside Ave.
Beginnings: Founder Kelly Walker Wombold launched the business in 2009. She began making chocolate around her regular job by converting an extra room in her house into a candy kitchen. Both her great-great-great uncle Al and great-grandmother Mabel were candy-makers. Wombold learned from Mabel’s daughter Mary when she was 19. “Carrying on our multigenerational family tradition of chocolate-making was something I was proud to do,” Wombold says.
Goals: Wombold started her business during a deep recession. “I really hoped to bring a little light and a little sweetness to folks during a particularly trying time,” she says.
Richmond favorites: Custom flavors and textures, custom shapes and bespoke chocolate molds allow an individualized chocolate experience. “I guess you could say that everything we do is most popular,” she says. “Sure, you can come in and get made-from-scratch caramels, truffles in 20 different flavors and juicy liquor cordials, but you can also bring me an idea.”
Best part of the chocolate business: Chocolate brings together people who might never meet otherwise, providing opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. It also provides an outlet for her self-described “insatiable need to be creative and to teach.”
Availability: Pick up Chocolates by Kelly at her shop at 11800 W. Broad St., suite 2320. Assorted boxes are available at Perk Bon Air, the Outpost or at chocolatesbykelly.com.