Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Diane Wagemann, owner of Divine Treasures LLC., located in Manchester, CT, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
We are a small, woman-owned Connecticut-based chocolate shop that began as a vision to create delicious artisan chocolates that were both vegan and gluten-free. Now, 15 years in business, we offer chocolates and truffles, non-dairy soft-serve sundaes, artisan cheeses, and even savory meals and artisan desserts, all made right here in our kitchen. Our customers are, at their core, chocolate lovers. Our treats appeal to many with dairy allergies, Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or those who live vegan lifestyles. We serve our chocolates and treats to sweet-tooth's of all ages and from all walks of life.
Tell us about yourself
My interest in chocolate-making stems from memories of making chocolate at home with my Memere, and it's a passion that's grown after I had the opportunity to travel to Europe and learn how the masters did it. However, I was diagnosed with Celiac and adopted a vegan diet, so I adapted my Memere's classic recipes, took my new knowledge of chocolate-making, and developed new creations, like a buttery, silky caramel made completely without dairy. Starting Divine Treasures took a leap of faith, and it's become a labor of love. I love the thrill of creating a new delicious product, and I'm inspired every day but the people who come into our doors or order online to create something new and exciting for them to try.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment is having the opportunity to work with bigger organizations and being recognized on a wider national scale, from that
in particular, working with PETA and selling our chocolates through them. There are a few things along the way that have really taken my business to the next level that I'm so grateful for, and this opportunity was definitely one of them.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
One of the hardest things is all the backend trials and tribulations that customers don't see or sometimes even realize everything from the cost of rent of a brick-and-mortar location to the long, late-night hours spent at the shop in order to have the product in the case the next morning. I'm always determined to meet and exceed customer expectations. Sometimes it is a pressure I put on myself without realizing--it's impossible to regret when the end result is so appreciated and enjoyed, but sometimes knowing when to stop and take a long, slow breath and grab some extra rest is a challenge!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Get yourself a bookkeeper, someone you can trust, someone who can be an objective, calculating eye for you so you can focus on doing what you really want to do - making the product/providing the service! It's always good to have an expert outsider to keep an eye on such things, so you have the time and ability to do what you mainly wanted to do in the first place.
- Branching off of tip 2, find yourself fellow workers, employees, or help that will elevate you and your business and be good strong support. Maybe that means they are like-minded and share similar values. Maybe that means they think differently than you and can provide a much-needed insight into some aspect of the business you don't always have time to focus on, like social media. This might be easier said than done, but the right people for you are out there waiting for the opportunity to shine--so don't be afraid to let them!
- Be open - open to co-workers' ideas and opinions, open to an exciting new opportunity, open to a crazy idea...If you are always open and ready to receive, you're more likely to catch all the good things coming your way.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We hope someday soon you can taste our chocolates for yourself!
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solopreneur that you'd like to share, then email email@example.com; we'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
Feel inspired to start, run or grow your own subscription business? Check out subkit.com and learn how you can turn "one day" into day one.