The strategy is actually the easy part.
I want to build a model that other companies can look at and emulate.
A model that’s based on strong ethics and financial success.
I’m Joe, founder and CEO of Theo Chocolate.
We exist in a distribution system in grocery across this country,
where you need to operate at a certain size
and have a certain level of success just to stay on the shelf.
We need to grow in order to continue our business.
Joe convinced me that I should start this company with Joe.
I’m Deborah, vice president of sales and marketing for Theo Chocolate.
When Joe realized that he needed to move to Seattle to start Theo,
he wasn’t going to relocate unless I was willing to relocate
along with him with our son.
I didn’t want to be the thing that stood in the way of him realizing his
And it’s chocolate after all so, it’s a chocolate factory.
We produce products that really excited us,
and we put them in packaging that we really liked.
We learned very quickly that as fabulous as those products were,
they weren’t necessarily products that other consumers wanted to have.
When we looked at our numbers and realized we were not growing
at the rate that we thought we should be,
and that in certain markets we were struggling,
we decided to apply some science to what we were doing.
We had had a really, really great launch
and had garnered a lot of accolades both from press and food critics
partly because of the uniqueness of what we had done.
But when push comes to shove, it’s really a volume game
and we needed to be selling a lot more chocolate.
In order for us to attract a more mainstream group of consumers,
we had a produce products where the flavors were easily accessible and
in packaging that was easy for consumers to read on the shelf,
and at price points that was attractive to them.
Initially we were targeting green consumers,
or people who were really foodies,
meaning that they’re adventurous eaters.
And we needed also to be selling in places where people just wanted
a milk chocolate bar.
We made flavors like coconut curry in milk chocolate.
That’s not something that plays on main street very well.
We had people coming into our store all the time saying,
“Well, can’t you just do chocolate with mint?”
And so we thought, well, yeah we definitely can do chocolate with mint.
We weren’t especially excited about doing chocolate with mint,
but we realized why wouldn’t we do that if our customers are asking for
We looked at market data for the first time
and we looked at what were the clear winners.
There is a motivation to have products out there
that people understood across the country.
So, chocolate with orange, chocolate with mint,
straight 70% dark chocolate, chocolate with cherries and almonds.
More recently a spicy chile.
When we expand the bar line, it will be dark chocolate with coconut.
Just a much more accessible product line.
Which turned out to be a really, really important move for us.
But there’s already a lot of this kind of product on the market,
you know on the shelf.
And retailers have limited space.
You know just being organic and fair trade isn’t enough.
You will spark consumers interest because of our certifications
and the integrity of our product.
But if it doesn’t taste good if people don’t enjoy it,
and then really doesn’t matter.
So we put as much or more of an emphasis on quality
because without that, then nothing else really matters.
What’s most unique about us is that we are the only
organic a fair trade brand that’s actually making of the product that we
So, we’re the only vertically integrated product on the shelf.
We’re the only product where we’re
controlling the supply chain from start to finish.
We work with the farmers, we import the beans,
and all of our other ingredients, we make the product in our own
So we are able to control not only all of those relationships and the
but the entire manufacturing process and that sets us apart.
Probably of the single most important
thing that was beyond our control was whether or not
retailers were going to be willing to give us some shelf placement,