How now, raw cacao?
There is a very mystical and magical destiny Merissa had with cacao which started with the movie Chocolat in 2000 when she was 14. At the time she was so touched by the movie and the message of the activating power of shamanic superfoods to ignite people’s hearts and destinies. A brief wistful flash of wishing to be like the lady Vienne in the movie, who touches people’s hearts through her mystical chocolates and kind nature.
Flash forward to 2009 when she and her family relocated to the island of Dominica in the West Indies. Merissa was studying herbs, superfoods, raw juicing etc and was re-visited by the spirit of cacao in a very real way, stumbling across it in her textbooks. She remembered the movie again.
The next day she discovered “cocoa tea,” with the local children. They taught her how they took cacao and macerated it, then dehydrated it and rolled it into a handheld log to then grate and mix with freshly grated nutmeg into hot water to make their version of hot chocolate. She was absolutely delighted, and they invited her to come pick cacao pods in the jungle. She could not believe the synchronicity; at this time she was reading David Wolfe’s Eating for Beauty and Susan E. Shenck’s The Live Food Factor, so this was truly a divine timing kind of invite as she wanted to learn all about cacao.
They picked pods all afternoon and hauled them together back to the house where she was staying. Merissa opened all the pods and removed the white pith from all the beans, placing them in the sun to dry like the locals did. After a few days in the sun they fermented, and she was heartbroken because thought she ruined them, not knowing yet about the smells of fermentation. This was years before she was making kombucha and her own fermented veggies at home!
Flash forward again to 2010, when Merissa got a job as a cashier at a local health food store. Being a health lover her whole life she thrived in the environment, all the products, the regular customers, and how much she could learn about both the products for sale and the natural foods industry.
She loved the raw chocolates on the shelf and bought it rarely when she could afford it. One day in August of 2012, she realized rather than buy 1 or 2 bars, she could make her own at home purchasing the ingredients for the same amount. After substantial research and a few experimental batches, she brought a batch into the store to share with her co-workers. They flipped out, as did a regular customer who told Merissa she needed to go into business, and that she would be her first customer. The lightbulb went off. Merissa had been an entrepreneur her whole life, trying jewelry as a child, and then vibrational healing with yoga and tuning forks just a few years prior. Both had failed, because she did not yet have the business knowledge. Strangely enough, this encouraging woman who was a regular customer disappeared after that moment! Was she an angel? We think so.
The next 6 years were filled with the chocolate business being a small venture on the side. Farmer’s markets for product testing and networking all over LA. Working full time to support her daughter, pining for the moment the chocolate would be the full time venture instead.
The next level was self-development to have the confidence and stamina to build it all up to the executive level. 2018 was our first year full time! Now we sit back and reflect on how cacao changes lives. It truly does open us up to our potential and gently nudge us out of comfort zone, to our destiny. We cannot wait to show you what we are bringing in 2019 🙂