Innovative Ingestibles at the Northside Marketplace (3 of 6)
When and how was your business born?
After working for about 15 years in a corporate setting as a marketing executive, I launched Sweet Bean in 2014 as a creative and therapeutic outlet for myself. At the beginning, I operated the business part-time while still holding my corporate day job – we (my husband Bob, and I) affectionately referred to Sweet Bean as “our 6-11”, we would work all day, come home, eat dinner, and get in the Sweet Bean kitchen. We spent our nights making chocolate, and our weekends selling chocolate at one of the local markets – like Crafty Mart, and Cleveland Bazaar. In 2019, I finally quit my day job and leapt deliciously into full-time chocolate making.
What’s the origin story behind Sweet Bean?
Sweet Bean is named after our Vizsla, Violet. She is the sweetest pup, and when she was a puppy we nicknamed her The Sweet Bean because she would curl up into the tiniest, sweetest little ball when sleeping. She’s now our Sweet Bean Ambassador.
What attracted you to the world of chocolate?
I’ve always loved making and eating sweets and desserts. In 2011, I bought a Groupon to attend a chocolate-making workshop at a tiny chocolate shop in Boston’s South End. I spent the afternoon making hand-molded chocolates, and was able to take home a portion of what I made… I told my husband what a great time I had, and for Christmas that year he bought me the supplies I needed to get started at home. I would make chocolates for just about any occasion… holidays, birthdays, Fridays, lol… but it wasn’t until we moved back to Ohio that I started playing with painting techniques and colored cocoa butter. I studied art in high school and in college, at Kent State, but now I had discovered the sweet spot where art and chocolate collided.
What inspires you to create your products?
I think the best part of what I do is making other people happy. Who doesn’t love chocolate!? When most people see our products for the first time they are confused about what it is. The two words we utter most frequently are “it’s chocolate” inspiring our Insta hashtag – #itschocolate. The words we hear next are usually “it’s too pretty to eat!” but after staring in wonder for a few moments, I love the look on people’s faces after they taste it. Like the saying… “we eat with our eyes first,” there’s no greater satisfaction than something that looks good AND tastes even better than it looks! It’s a tiny luxury that can make a big impact on your mood, and I love sharing that joy.
In what ways were you creative as a child?
When I think back now, I’ve always been an artist/entrepreneur… I sold drawings and paintings of horses and ballerinas from my bedroom “art gallery,” and I even sold painted rocks door-to-door in my neighborhood. Painting and crafting chocolates pairs my favorite things from childhood, art and candy – with dogs being my other favorite, seems fitting that I’ve named my business after our sweet pup.