October is a special month to me – my birth month. At this time of year, I always feel the pull towards self-reflection and reevaluation of my goals and purpose. It is a time in which I recommit and align my actions with my innermost desires and vision. This year I am grateful for the path I have taken with Chocology. It brings joy, connection and fun into my life. This is why I’d like to share with all of you why I do what I do.
No. 1: I love seeing people smile
Everyone LOVES chocolate! It is such a blessing to have the opportunity to work with people who are happy and enjoying themselves. I love helping our clients choose the perfect gift, dessert for a special event or wedding favors. People are happy when they talk chocolate and this makes me happy as well. Madeline always says, “We meet the best people!” and she’s right. We are fortunate to cross paths with people in their finest moments.
No. 2: I’m good at it!
Being the Managing Director of my own company allows me to utilize all of my gifts and talents. Strong work ethic, good communication skills and a love of people are key ingredient's to running a successful business. Do what you love and you never work a day of your life! That is our philosophy and it’s worked well for us at Chocology. I love what I do every single day and am able to thrive because of this philosophy!
No. 3: I get to do it with my family!
One of the greatest gifts I feel I can give to my daughter is to show her that when you set a goal it can be achieved through hard work, a good attitude and perseverance. I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to model for my daughter that your dreams can come true! Not everyone has the privilege of working with family. Recently David is able to join us more and more on our chocolate adventures! We never know what is around the corner, but together we get the job done – ALWAYS!
No. 4: Every Day is Different
I love different! It’s so easy to get stuck in the humdrum of day-to-day life. At Chocology, each day is diversified. One day we’re working with children on a Chocology Kids project and the next we’re working with the senior’s community. We might go to a corporate meeting to serve fudge and then head out to plan a wedding or work on one of the various festivals that we attend. There’s always something new and fresh to keep us motivated and excited.
No. 5: Giving Back to our World
From the very beginning it was important to me to give back. I feel so blessed to live a happy and joyful life. Giving a little of that back makes me even happier. I don’t work for a non-profit however I sure can support them. And that’s what we do, plain and simple. Not only to we glean joy from helping our non-profits with monetary donations, we love doing simple acts of kindness. I just love it when parents allow their children to come by our Farmers Market booth to make purchases by themselves. The parents have realized that we take those children under our wings and feel blessed to have them as customers too. Kids are the best at “the art of tasting” and we love seeing them take it so seriously. We love giving our money, our smiles and our compassion to everyone that we meet!
No. 6: I Get to Travel
If you’ve read our blog, you know I love to travel. I love going new places and being the owner of Chocology provides that travel outlet for me. Whether it’s driving to the East End, traveling on the ferry across the Long Island Sound to make deliveries in Connecticut or going cross-country to deliver a check to one of our non-profits, the opportunity to travel keeps life interesting and new every single day.
No 7: It provides Freedom and Autonomy
Most people think that when you own your own business, you get to set your own hours. This is not exactly true. I make myself available to my clients therefore my hours are dictated by the need. However, I do have the flexibility to use creativity to get a job done well and efficiently. People often ask, “How do you manage balance in your life?” My answer: “I don’t. I integrate.” Being with my daughter Madeline and my husband David is very important to me. We’ve learned to integrate our time together as a family while enjoying running the business. And I not only get to be with my daughter while homeschooling, I get to teach her about having a career that you love and doing it with a joyful heart.
No. 8: I can do it all!
Admittedly, I will welcome the day when our growth allows for more employees and my position will be more of a leadership role. For now, I get the opportunity to run the business both from the front and back end. Creativity, New Products, Website, Social Media, New Client visits, special events – these are the things I love. Bookkeeping – Not so much! Luckily, I love developing both sides of my brain; Analytical and Creative. There are so many facets of my personality and they serve me well in running the business. I need to switch hats quickly from planning and creative thinking to one of analytical and business-minded thinking. One day soon there will be others that can help, but for now I love the constant shifting and maneuvering that my business demands of me.
Overall, the message is that I am so grateful for my life as the owner and Managing Director of Chocology. I feel blessed to come across so many wonderful people out in the world. I love making people happy! The smiles I get to see are the icing on the cake! I love my life and thank all of those that have helped me live out my dream of running a family business.
“Love heals, love does; especially when it’s got a wet nose, 4 paws and a wagging tail.” ~Mary Cortanni —Founder Operation Freedom Paws
This Independence Day we are giving back to an organization who helps veterans become more independent! Operation Freedom Paws is one of the Chocology Cares organizations and we are very proud to partner with them to match homeless dogs with veterans and others who suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome, complex PTSD, traumatic brain injury and other physical, neurological, psychological and mobility needs.
Operation Freedom Paws is an organization that saves lives. From the shelter dog given a second chance, to the disabled client given an opportunity to regain their independence, to the client’s family who is able to re-connect with their loved ones. OFP is committed to helping veterans regain their independence and live full and happy lives.
From other organizations, the cost for a service dog can range from $10,000 - $60,000. At Operation Freedom Paws, there is no cost to the Veteran, OFP provides everything.
Operation Freedom Paws carefully matches clients with their specially chosen four- legged companions. The partners then begin a 48-week program which trains the clients to train their own dogs. At the end of the program, they’re certified together as service dog team. ”Four paws, two feet, one team.” —The slogan of Operation Freedom Paws
We were very excited to write them a check this week for $257. This money was raised through the sale of our Fat Ass Fudge at both the Farmer’s Markets and the website.
“The most amazing thing,” says Mary, “is to see the person and the animal transform into this amazing working team where they just help each other navigate life and they create a new normal. My life is blessed. I may not be worth a lot of money, but I am very rich.”
Every time you order Fat Ass Fudge, choose your charity and Chocology will donate a portion of the proceeds to the charity of your choice.
Thank a veteran this Independence Day by donating directly to Operation Freedom Paws. You’ll not only save a shelter dog, help a veteran to regain autonomy and a new friend.
Happy Independence Day from Chocology! #ChocologyCares
This Memorial Day weekend is sure to be one to remember. The Chocology team will again be participating in Taste the East End at the Long Island Aquarium. We were delighted to participate in this event last year and this year is going to be extra special.
And how is it going to be extra special? Well, Chocology has been “paired” with the extraordinary vineyard, Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards. Together Chocology and Baiting Hollow Farm are working to create a spectacular experience for our visitors at Taste the East End and we hope that you’ll join us!
Last week, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Sharon and Steve Levine, the owners of BHFV and their lovely manager Rose Vasta. Like Chocology, BHFV is a family run business with a foundation built on giving back. Their greatest passion is rescuing horses that are marked for destruction either due to their age or to no longer meeting the requirements as a racehorse. The Levine’s are passionate about raising awareness around the fate of most of these animals and rescuing those that they can – providing a sanctuary on the farm where the horses can live out the rest of their lives free and happy. Three of the BHFV wines are dedicated to the rescue horses and all of the profits from these wines go back to helping these animals. We love that philanthropic spirit and knew immediately that we had been paired well.
During our visit we brought along six Fat Ass Fudge flavors and a mix of our artisan chocolate truffles to pair with some of the BHFV wines. We even drizzled some of The Amazing Olives balsamic vinegars on some of the tastings. Wine, balsamic and chocolate! What a delightful experience for the palette!
The six BHFV wines we tried with our chocolate were Savannah Rose, Riesling, Sam’s Legacy, White Satin, Red Velvet and my personal favorite Mirage; named after BHFV’s adored Arabian Princess, who was rescued in 2007. The Mirage is a dry, yet bold “Bordeaux Style” red blend and is a perfect combination of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This particular wine won the 2013 New York State Commercial Gold award and is one of the BHFV horse rescue wines.
As we’ve said time and again, the people we meet on the Chocology journey make our job so fun, adventurous and educational. And meeting the Levine’s and their manager Rose was no exception. In fact, as we were leaving, Linda said to Rose “If I didn’t love my job so much, I might like yours!” Rose chuckled and then replied, “If I didn’t love MY job so much, I might like yours as well!”
We hope that you’ll join us at the Long Island Aquarium for The Taste of The East End on May 29. It’s sure to be a fun experience for all who attend, not to mention a tasty one!
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards and Chocology are preparing a table that you won’t be able to resist. And with over forty other local restaurants, live music and locally craft beverages and wines, a good time will be had by all.
Do you remember the Chocology Gives Back Road Trip that we took almost a year ago? We sure do! From April 17 to May 15, 2015, Madeline and I drove coast to coast with a focus on giving back to the community. We had so much fun and met so many wonderful people along the way.
When Madeline and I got the opportunity during our trip to tour the Mannheim Steamroller studios and meet Chip Davis, the genius behind this musical wonder, we jumped on it! Seeing Mannheim Steamroller in concert has been a Christmas tradition with the Johnson family for many years and meeting Chip was a dream come true for us. Their inspiring music along with their “give back” mentality attracted us right away, so we weren’t going to pass on this opportunity! Not to mention, we had to ask about the origins of their song “Chocolate Fudge” played on their album entitled, Fresh Aire.
The studio was magnificent! It felt like home as soon as we walked in. The atmosphere was friendly and respectful and it felt as though everyone we met was genuinely glad to see us. It didn’t take us long to realize that the team behind the scenes works in just as much harmony as the band. All of the staff, from the receptionist to Chip Davis himself, was a delight and we enjoyed our visit very much!
In our interview with Chip, we learned that he is passionate about helping military service people and veterans. He believes that much like life, music is a gift, and he has truly given the gift of music to our service men, women and veterans. In the “A Million Reasons to Be Thankful” campaign, Mannheim Steamroller gave away 1 million Christmas CD’s to U.S. Troops domestically and in foreign countries! Now that is what we call giving back!
And. . . we found out that the song “Chocolate Fudge” follows “Prelude” on the Fresh Aire album. “Prelude” starts out gentle and classical. After the first few notes of “Chocolate Fudge” however, things start to pick up and the music is transformed into the musical wonder that is Mannheim Steamroller. We love that Chip chose the name “Chocolate Fudge” to signal the beginning of the transition from classical to modern.
Since Mannheim Steamroller and Chocology both agree that giving back to our communities is where it’s at, we were so excited to get an opportunity to collaborate with them for the Easter egg hunt hosted by Operation Freedom Paws this weekend. Operation Freedom Paws, if you remember, is one of Chocology’s #Chocologycares organizations. Operation Freedom Paws empowers veterans and others with disabilities to live a quality life by teaching them to train their own dogs, and certifying them as service dog teams.
Chocology will be donating a huge Easter basket for the event. We will also be represented there with Fat Ass fudge samples for everyone and doggie treats for our furry friends. Mannheim Steamroller is teaming up with us to donate 90 of their American Spirit CD’s to the veterans at Operation Freedom Paws. It’s so exciting to have the chance to work with Mannheim Steamroller for this event. We are truly grateful to have such wonderful partners on this chocolate journey!
We hope that you and yours have a wonderful Easter holiday this weekend ~ filled with fun, family, friends and chocolate, of course!
Often times I’m asked, “How did Chocology come about? What made you want to work in chocolate?”
I’d love to say, I’ve dreamed of becoming a chocolatier since I was a babe. I’m afraid my story is a bit more meandering than that, though.
While I loved working in the kitchen with my mom as a girl, the thought of working professionally with chocolate never crossed my mind. I was a late bloomer and marched to the beat of a different drum than most. I was late by most standards to marriage; late to motherhood. But one thing that was always apparent was my desire to help people. To make them feel good about themselves and the world. My joy was to bring a different perspective to those around me and to make the world a little brighter; A little sparklier; A little more fun.
When I started out in the corporate world, I rarely had a traditional position. My desire to help people must have been evident. My employers always knew I genuinely cared and would do the job well. I was the first Senior Customer Service Representative at Sprint and when I moved into sales, was the number one sales representative in revenue retention. I like to think that my success was attributed to my desire to bring great customer service to the table every single day.
After I married and had my daughter my job became being a full time mom. It’s the best job I’ve ever had! My quirkiness and ability to see different perspectives led me to homeschool Madeline, our Chief Creative Director here at Chocology. Bringing joy and fun into her life was now my dream and vocation.
My fathers passing in 2007 had a deeply profound affect on the way I see life and pushed me to look at life from a different perspective yet again. I realized that I had something in me that wanted to be born into the world. But what?
As much as I’d loved the corporate world, it didn’t align with my vision of being a homeschooling mom and I wasn’t willing to give that up. So I began making lists of the things I loved doing, things that even if I never earned money from, were important to me and would give me a sense of making a difference in the world.
What surfaced for me over and over again were my love of family, travel and volunteer work. I was doing these things to some degree, of course, but my heart was yearning for more. Could I take these desires and maximize them to create the life that I was yearning for?
In 2011, I packed Madeline up in the car and we traveled cross-country to meet and interview people who inspired us. We met authors, philanthropist, and others who had made a positive impact on our lives. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do “when I grew up” but was open and willing for something to be revealed.
The road trips became a thing with Madeline and I. We took another one in 2013 to meet several of Madeline’s online friends across the country. And in 2014, it hit me. I love bringing joy to others. Madeline loves chocolate and so do I. Heck, doesn’t everyone? Let’s start a chocolate company!
The rest is history I guess you could say. We boarded a plane immediately for Belgium in early 2014, to go study chocolate from the greatest. It was a great education for Madeline and a great bonding period for both of us. I became a professional chocolatier through classes with Ecole Chocolat and then launched Chocology in September 2014.
Chocology is a blend of all of my past experiences. We value seeing things from different perspectives, promoting education, building strong and lasting relationships, extending kindness and giving back. This way of doing business was built upon the past accumulation of all of the things that were most important to me. And Madeline has been right by my side the entire way. It is my pleasure to serve people through chocolate. Chocolate has a way of bringing the best out in everyone.
When I think about why I love what I do so much, it has nothing to do with the end result. It’s the people we meet along the way, who all have a story. As Madeline often says, “Mama, we meet the best people!” And she is right. We do.
Dreams don’t come true in a day. Sometimes not in a week or even years. My wish is that my story will inspire others to stay true to themselves and keep digging to find that one thing that lights them up. I sure did and am excited to be on this chocolate covered adventure with YOU!
A few mantras I have adopted to help me along the way. Perhaps they’ll become yours as well.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
I am paid in proportion to the amount of service I am to you.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
~ Linda Johnson, Managing Director of Chocology
Recently, Chocology had the opportunity to sit down with Stephanie Sorkin, a children's book author, to talk about her book "Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces". Don't you just love the name?
We are proud to offer the book amongst our Chocology Display at Lavender Fields in Port Jefferson, New York. Copies can also be purchase at bookstores across the country as well as on Amazon.
We love the book so much, that we will be hosting a reading of the book at the kindergarten class that Madeline attended many years ago. Along with the book reading, we will be offering all types of chocolate fun and activities to the children there.
One of the things we love most about Stephanie is that she's all about giving back to the community. Read on to find out more about how you can help others with the purchase of "Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces".
A Chocolate Interview with author, Stephanie Sorkin
What inspired you to write "Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces"?
I was inspired to write “Chocolate Shoes” by my love of whimsical children’s literature. I love to think of silly things that could happen, and turn them into stories for children to enjoy. And what could be more fun than wearing chocolate shoes?
Where do you come up with your ideas?
I come up with my ideas 24 hours a day, in various ways. For example, when I came up with the idea for my book, “Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel” it started as a bedtime story for my daughter. My kids loved it and I just knew that it would be a hit with children everywhere! I came up with the idea for “Frenemy Jane, the Sometimes Friend” based on a true story and real events. I have a number of other storylines that I’m currently working on with ideas that I got from observations in the classroom, along with silly add- ons to make the stories funny.
How did you get started as a writer?
I’d like to say that I got started as a writer the minute that I learned to write. I loved to put my thoughts on paper and rhyme at a very early age. I take great pleasure in bringing a book that I made as a child to my present day school visits. It’s a story about a frog that felt different from the other frogs. It’s held together by ribbon and my mom drew the pictures! I love that it inspires the kids to follow their dreams when they see that I started as a child. My start professionally came with my book “Nutley”. I was so anxious to share my story with the world that I sat at the computer and simply googled “SELF PUBLISHING”. I researched a few companies and ultimately got incredibly lucky when I chose the publisher Mascot Books. They delivered a high quality book that has held its own in a very competitive market.
Tell us 3 crazy things about yourself!
Hmmmm.....only 3 things?
1) I worked for the NBA. I love basketball as much as I love to write. Aside from being a children’s book author, it was my dream job.
2) I’m very superstitious
3) I want to keep every greeting card that I ever receive.
I LOVE quotes! I post one almost every day on my Twitter account (@stephsorkin)
I have so many favorites, it’s hard to narrow it down!!!
“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have. “ ~Maya Angelou
“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.” ~Earl Nightingale
“The man on top of the mountain didn’t fall there.” ~Vince Lombardi
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” ~Anne Frank
“I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” ~Thomas Jefferson
Best and Worst part of being a writer
The best part of being it writer is having a place to channel my creativity. To take my ideas and share them for others is very gratifying. To think that children get to read my books over and over just for fun is incredible. My favorite part of my job is visiting schools to discuss the writing process and the importance of creativity.
The worst part of being a writer is that many of my friends and family don’t think that I work! As my job is not your typical 9-5 office job, it’s difficult to explain my day to day schedule, as it varies. I do wish that I only worked 8 hours a day! Working from home is not easy, as there are multiple distractions. I have to stay very focused to get everything done!
My Madeline is in the middle of writing her first novel. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice to your daughter is in a quote from Diane Sawyer. “Whatever you want in life, other people are going to want it too. Believe in yourself enough to accept the idea that you have an equal right to it.” I couldn’t have said it better myself and find this to be so motivational for young people looking to enter any competitive field, especially writing. I remember standing in the children’s book section of Barnes and Noble, completely overwhelmed. It was just weeks before my book Nutley was being published. I wondered how I would sell any books with all of the competition out there. The truth is, if you have a great product, believe in yourself and work hard, you will have no choice but to be successful.
I’d also tell your daughter that writing the book is the easy part. She can pursue mainstream publishing but we now live in an age where self-publishing and self- promotion are no longer frowned upon. She should know that there are many unconventional, yet effective ways to do both.
You donate a portion of the proceeds made from the book. How and why did you choose this organization?
I love to give back to charities that support children so choosing “Soles4Souls” was easy. With my book being about Chocolate Shoes, choosing a charity in which shoes are distributed to those in need seemed like the perfect match. I’m honored to be a part of their mission.
Do you like chocolate?
I absolutely LOVE Chocolate!! I would eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I could! I love to go to chocolate stores and buy gourmet chocolate in all shapes and sizes, but you could also find me in CVS buying Hershey kisses!
Where can we buy your books?
My books are sold in bookstores, toy stores and children’s boutiques but the quickest way to find them is online on Amazon.com or ChocologyUnlimited.com
Many of you know of the Chocology Cares campaign that we created earlier in the year. When you, our customer, buy Fat Ass Fudge, a portion of the proceeds goes towards helping one of our three chosen charities. Chocology is committed to giving back to the community and helping those in need. Caterina’s Club is one of those organizations.
We are so pleased to announce that Chocology had the honor of presenting a $3,000 check to Chef Bruno of the Anaheim White House Restaurant in Anaheim, CA for Caterina's Club this past week. Chef Bruno’s “Welcome Home” program helps families climb out of poverty and into a proper home. Thanks to our loyal customers and one big donor, an Anaheim family will have a new and safe place to live!
The $3,000 is enough to help a family that has fallen on hard times pay the first and last month rent on an apartment. In many cases, these families have been living with their children in unsafe motel living conditions for quite some time.
In order for a family to qualify for the “Welcome Home” program, one guardian must be employed for at least six months and there must be at least two children living in the household. These requirements ensure that children are lifted out of unsafe living conditions and that the family will be able to maintain rent payments each month. One by one, Chef Bruno is literally giving families a new lease on life!
Having a home means that children have a kitchen, clean bathrooms, a bedroom and a safe outdoor environment to play in ~ something many of us take for granted. You can be a part of this wonderful movement simply by eating chocolate! With the holidays right around the corner, we at Chocology hope to sell enough fudge to help another family in Anaheim! Your order of Fat Ass Fudge truly makes a positive impact on the world!
We truly thank YOU for helping Chocology make a difference in the world! Together, we can continue to change the lives of others for the better. . .
~ The Chocology Team