Chocolate artisan handcrafts happiness

November 21 , 2016
By: Michelle Ratcliffe
Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector.

Can chocolate really make us happy?

It’s been savoured for centuries, known to arouse powerful feelings of being in love and is said to release mood-boosting serotonin in the brain. But science aside, local entrepreneur Amanda Sandahl has crafted her entire business around the chocolate-happiness factor. Sandahl’s chocolate confections are carefully crafted with this goal in mind. It’s right there in the name, Chocohappy.

Sandahl was born in Belgium, and as one might expect growing up in a country of cocoa aficionados, hers was a childhood where chocolate and fond memories went hand in hand. From birthdays to holidays, fine chocolates were always part of family celebrations.

“There was always a box of delicious truffles on the table,” said Sandahl, whose love of luxurious chocolate never melted away.

“I wanted to make people happy by making delicious chocolates, so in February 2014, after attending chocolatier school, Chocohappy was launched,” said Sandahl.

Her passion for palate pleasure has translated into a thriving business creating artisan chocolates, handcrafted in small batches using only natural ingredients and wrapped in a unique paper cone.

The family flavour

Sandahl’s path to spread chocohappiness began with the courage to start her own company. Following a successful sales and marketing career in Sweden, her young family embarked on an adventure to Whistler well over a decade ago. Motherhood changed Sandahl’s perspective and she took the leap to trade traditional office hours for an entrepreneurial path.

Running her own business compliments this active mom’s lifestyle perfectly and the whole family gets involved. The flexibility provides plenty of time with family and she relishes the satisfaction she gets from returning to work.

“I like to think that I am a good role model for our kids to see that starting a business is not always easy, it’s not fancy offices, etcetera, but actually starts with drawing by the kitchen table, working late nights and early mornings,” she said.

Sandahl also credits her husband with constantly challenging her to keep moving forward and adds that the whole family makes enthusiastic taste-testers when it comes to experimenting with new flavours.

Packaging pleasure

Chocohappy’s product and packaging beautifully celebrate classic quality. Truffles and caramels are made exclusively with natural ingredients. There is true magic in her uncomplicated, but decadent cocoa creations. A year-round assortment is complimented by limited edition flavours celebrating the seasons and trends, like the new Bailey’s and Mallows, Holiday Mint and Gingerbread Caramel created for Christmas.

Creative packaging designed by a local artist echoes the unique quality of her product. The classic cone came from Sandahl’s childhood memories in Europe when families would go to the general store to buy treats hand-wrapped in paper cones.

“The idea of wrapping the confections in cones was born. Chocohappy found a niche in the ‘chocolate world’ with its unique packaging,” Sandahl said. “We have taken a classic product and made it a bit different.”

Building a sweet team

Having kids herself, Sandahl understands the value of a flexible work environment that enables her team to be present for their families and community. She also knows how important it is to find and keep the right people.

“Find the staff you would like to work for you and find a solution to make it work,” she said, emphasizing the importance of a give and take mentality that she also credits with the team’s commitment to one another.

While she admits her dream is to have a small storefront, selling online and at markets goes a long way to create the flexibility that her team so appreciates.

Whether it’s her customers or team, happiness is the core of this cocoa-crafting endeavour and it would seem that Sandahl has found the right recipe for a sweet and successful small business.

“One of the best things with doing markets, like Whistler Farmers’ Market, is offering samples to visitors — seeing the smile that spreads on their face and hearing the noise they start to make… it hits a spot of pure joy in me and a feeling of ‘yes, we did it.’”

Make business easy — tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber of Commerce showcasing a Whistler business innovating in their sector

Link to Whistler Question article: http://ow.ly/VJRnm