Noteworthy Chocolates is not your regular chocolate shop. They create custom chocolate engravings with a personalized messaged from the first glance to the last bite. Michael and Jennifer Sauvageau, a couple that loves working together and constantly comes up with innovative ideas and products, founded the company. They had jobs before Noteworthy, but realized working with and for each other made them much happier. They had attended an expo together and noticed every booth was giving away chocolate, this realization coupled with a newfound interest in lasers, led them to Noteworthy Chocolates. They experimented at a local innovation center, the Danbury, CT, Hackerspace, and used sandwich container lids and mason jar lids as their very first chocolate molds. Their dining room was taken over by chocolate as they sought the perfect laser and chocolate combination. Once Michael and Jennifer discovered what worked, they created a Kickstarter campaign and raised enough money to start their business and “get professional.” No more mason jar lids from here on out!
Being involved in the community is important to Noteworthy Chocolates. They are still involved with the Danbury Hackerspace and are active in local town events such as the local Bethel Summer Fest. They sponsored the “Taste of Bethel” and fundraise for public schools. Michael and Jennifer “help whenever they can” and work with local non-profits as well. They take their involvement and community outreach online with active social media accounts.
Noteworthy Chocolates has gained a large following online with interactive and interesting content. Jennifer does most of the social media posts and shared her insights and advice on building an online persona. She says there is “only so much chocolate you can post” and to make sure your posts “tell a little bit.” Their most liked posts are ones that are authentic and share their story. Posting “really cool stuff” such as the process of engraving chocolate with a laser is what followers want to see rather than pretty pictures of personalized chocolate. Another main takeaway for Jennifer is not letting social media get in the way of the business. Social media is important, but if it takes focus from your product and store, it is not worth it.
Such an original idea for a business comes with original and insightful advice for other retailers. Michael urges entrepreneurs; “don’t be afraid to dream big” and be prepared to back up ideas with commitment and a lot of work. They also advise you to constantly innovate, listen to your customers and respond accordingly by giving them what they want and ask for. Being independent retailers allows for more changes to be made and that needs to be taken advantage of. Michael used a jet ski analogy and explains that having a small business is like being on a jet ski: if you want to change things or try something new, you can quickly head in a new direction whereas large businesses are like tugboats and take time to move and innovate. Noteworthy Chocolates is the “two person quintessential bootstrap start-up” and their ability to adapt to business and customers’ demands have helped them to succeed. Well, that and delicious chocolate!