Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kate Shaffer, Founder of Ragged Coast Chocolates, located in Westbrook, ME, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Ragged Coast Chocolates makes fine, artful chocolates by hand. We lead the artisanal American confection industry with our attention to pure, local ingredients and innovative, award-winning recipe development. We are one of the only confectioners in our region to use 100% directly-traded chocolates and strive to make confections that connect our customers to vibrant and sustainable food systems. We specialize in open-hearted service, engaging our customers with authentic, helpful, and caring communication.

Tell us about yourself

I started my business on a remote, sparsely populated island off the Maine Coast because I wanted to communicate my love for the uniqueness of Maine and our way of life. Chocolate was portable, universally appealing, and had the right balance of mystery, romance, and chemistry to tell a great story. To this day, the fact that our chocolates provide a way for our customer’s to communicate their love, thanks, regrets, sympathy, and so much else that comes straight from the heart is what gets me out of bed and through the door to the factory.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Growing a mere idea - really nothing more than pine needles and twigs - into a brand that is recognized all over the country and a product that has become part of the traditions of thousands of families.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I think the hardest thing is also the thing that keeps it from getting boring: the constant need to innovate, create, and pivot with the times and the trends.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Write a business plan, and have it project ten years into the future.
  2. Create a manual of SOPs from the beginning so that you’re ready to hire and train with relative ease.
  3. Imagine the end game (even if you know it will change). Knowing your ultimate goal will help guide every decision you make.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Be fearless and awesome. Doing nothing is never an option in business. And you will make bad decisions at times. Learn what you can from them and keep moving. Accept help and give help with both hands.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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