Tell us about your business.A sororal enterprise from the start, Sôcôla has always drawn on the twin talents of its two founders, Susan and Wendy Lieu. Wendy, the older of the two, is Sôcôla’s chief Chocolatier. A pastry school graduate, Wendy began experimenting with Klutz's Cookbook for Kids at age nine and with truffles recipes at age nineteen. Mostly self-taught, she finds that her thoughts wander frequently now to new truffle recipes, and she’s even begun dreaming up ganache concoctions in her sleep. By contrast, Susan couldn’t tell the difference between teaspoons and tablespoons as a child, and her early attempts at friendship bread (referred to as the Great Salt Incident of ’95) tasted like the Dead Sea. Her talents lie outside the kitchen, as a fundraiser, activist, and saleswoman. Wendy started experimenting with truffle recipes for Christmas gifts and instantly had a following. The two started selling at Farmer's Markets in 2001 and now are looking to find a retail home in the heart of SF.
What makes your business stand out?Socola Chocolatier is all about the customer experience. Letting you out of your box on a flavor adventure for your tastebuds with flavors such as Vietnamese coffee, guava, sriracha hot sauce, stout beer or passion fruit vanilla bean. We personalize business gifts and wedding favors by creating custom flavors and images that reflect your branding or personality.
What's the best business advice you've received?"Stick to your vision." Response from my financial advisor when I was considering going beyond chocolates & confections. When I was starting my search for a retail location in San Francisco, I found two options - one was smaller and the other was a larger corner spot. In order to get the corner spot, the landlords requested that I offer some cafe amenities (sandwiches, salads, etc.). I considered doing it to get the desirable corner spot but it caused me a lot of stress thinking about how to run that part of the business - a totally different business and not my core competency. I talked to my financial advisor and she just said "Stick to your vision." Decisions became much easier once I began making choices in line with my company vision.
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