Norah is one of our original employees, and she has worn many hats and tied a lot of bows on our behalf. Right now she’s writing to us from LA, where she’s heading up our newest pop-up shop.
Six years ago this month, the WSJ published two tiny lines that declared: “Dandelion Chocolate makes some of the best chocolate in the world”. Dandelion Chocolate was so small back then, they could not handle the influx of online orders that came through following this little write up. With only 11 or so people in the company at the time, they needed some extra hands to help fulfill these orders for some of the best chocolate in the world – and this is where my journey with Dandelion began.
At the time, I had no experience in chocolate, and thought, what the heck, how fun would it be to help at a chocolate factory! The one day gig included stickering bars (which we did by hand back then), sorting beans, foiling bars and tying the three packs with ribbon. Without realizing it, my first summer job at Tiffany & Co. many, many years prior, helped shaped the iconic Dandelion Chocolate bow. Maya showed me how they had been tying the bow, and without thinking, my muscle memory kicked in and I started tying the bows as I had been trained so many years ago. I owe this talent to be possibly the single reason that I was asked to come back day after day (at that time they could not afford to officially hire me until February of the following year), so I came in every day not knowing if it would be my last and this magical workplace would come to an end. My patience paid off and in February of 2013, I became an official employee and started working on the production team.
Back then, everyone wore many many hats and helped fill voids where ever it was needed, this led to me helping with gift box development and production after work and on the weekends, which turned into the start of our product department. In 2014 I became our first product manager and brand manager (I secretly feel I still hold this title because of the love I feel for our brand), and was responsible for developing new products, the production of current products, merchandising our retail shelves and making sure everything visual was always on-brand.
I eventually transitioned into the retail department when the Ferry Building manager gave notice two years ago. I took this opportunity to use my previous retail expertise and help the company where they needed me most. We were a small hot chocolate stand outside and this location had some challenges. After improving systems and sales during the first few months, the Ferry Building invited us to move inside to the old Scharffen Berger shop. We jumped at the chance to have one of the highly coveted shops inside this iconic San Francisco destination. Overseeing the construction last fall, we were able to open (by the skin of our teeth) the weekend before Christmas. Moving just a few hundred yards inside, we saw an immediate doubling of sales. The Ferry Building had become a real sustainable location for the company.
In the spring of last year, my family made a decision to move to Los Angeles. This decision came with the reality that I would have to leave a company that had made a permanent mark on me, and hopefully I too had made a small mark on it. When I first told Todd I was moving and joked that we should open in LA, he laughed, and then must have thought about it as a serious idea and came back to me and asked if I was really serious. I mean, how could I not be! Moving to a city that I love and bringing the chocolate and the company that I adore to share with this city has been an amazing opportunity for me. If there is anything I know about LA from living here years ago, it is that this city appreciates good food, beautiful design and amazing stories. I am so excited to share all those things through our pop-up at ROW DTLA for the next six months.
We have been open in LA for one week now and I have already met the some of the most amazing people (and kids). I cannot wait to share our story about chocolate and who we are as a company of now ~95 people. This a long way from the days when we all fit around the 12 person table on the mezzanine for All Hands, or the days when Maya started a rumor that if we hit a sales goal, Todd would take us all to Hawaii. At that next All Hands, his last slide just had the word “Rumors” on it, he told us, and I quote, “it would be crazy to shut down and pay for the whole company to go to Hawaii, so it’s lucky for you that we are crazy, we are all going to Hawaii!” Todd’s not crazy, he’s a brilliant visionary and I am so lucky to have stumbled upon his small dream for a chocolate factory he thought maybe 4 people would visit every day.
We will be open at ROW DTLA through April 2019 and our hours are M-F 11-7, Sat & Sun 10-6. We will start hosting Chocolate 101 classes on December 14 and 15 and you can find more details about how to sign up on our website under “Visit Us – Tours & Classes”.