The Evolution of Lulu’s Chocolate ~ Part 1

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When a Dream Compels Action

*contains adult language

Have you ever heard the term business as a spiritual practice? I used to ponder what that might mean and then, boy howdy, did I find out. Actually I’m still learning, with no end in sight. I’m about to paint you a picture of behind the scenes of Lulu’s Chocolate becoming what it is today.   This is also a deeply personal, transparent tale of how my tendency towards anxiety, a deeply ingrained pattern of walking on eggshells, believing invisibility meant safety and urges to collapse under overwhelm all became larger than life, and then ultimately became the key to the vast domain of my soul. I’m sharing this with you because I have a hunch that many folks, especially entrepreneurs, can relate.

In the last five years Lulu’s Chocolate has sold well over one million units. It is carried in 360 stores (so much room yet to grow), has created jobs for a dozen amazing people and boasts a fabulous Chocolate Lounge in Sedona.   You may be surprised to learn that I knew absolutely nothing about chocolate (save for the fact that I had always been a chocoholic) OR business when I began this endeavor. Experience alone has been my teacher. In fact, I never went to college a day in my life.  I’m going to give credit for the product’s success to pure luck. That and the fact that it is truly amazing chocolate. It’s definitely not because I was a suave CEO driving the ship to success. My driving of this ship included wrong turns, dead ends and seemingly going off a sheer cliff towards certain death. Thankfully, I wasn’t the captain. Something divine, compelling and way bigger than me was calling the shots. For years I have lovingly referred to this journey as “riding the Coco Dragon.”   The chocolate wanted to be born & I was its muse. Or was it my muse? Beyond bringing this product to market, the Coco Dragon had a behind the scenes purpose…to be my soul’s salvation. I almost titled this story “How I became a humble badass.” Anyway, lets get this story started.

Like Water For Chocolate

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If you want to know how I first became obsessed with making chocolate, you’ll find that story on my About page. Picking up where that left off…I was having so much fun making chocolate for breakfast every morning. Developing recipes was my favorite thing in the world and I loved sharing my creations with friends. The response was fantastic! It was nearing Christmas 2006 and I found myself broke after a year of travel. I was housesitting for a friend and had no more to my name than what fit in my van. After the holidays I was going to move my free ass back to Maui, where I could teach yoga and waitress for a living…at least that was my plan. I needed some quick cash and decided to give selling some of my chocolate a try. I found a cigarette girl tray to sell my goods on, bought some jars and made my first batch of Lulu’s Coco (what I named it back then) and went to a hip, Portland Solstice party. My chocolate sold out quickly even though I wasn’t prepared to educate people about what the hell to do with a jar of fudge textured raw chocolate. Duh, you eat it with a spoon! I know, not very classy on my part. The next morning, to my surprise, I woke up to several voicemails with chocolate orders, all needed by Christmas.  I used the money I made to get more jars, chocolate powder, agave & vanilla.   I got busy and was flying high! Until I started getting calls that the chocolate had molded. See, when I said I knew nothing about chocolate, I meant NOTHING. I had used equal parts oil and water in my chocolate breakfast each morning, so why not bottle that, right? At this point in the story I would love to say I went right on down to Powell’s Books and bought a book on chocolate. Nope, instead I simply decided the answer was refrigeration. And I cringe to say that I went right on bottling chocolate with water in it…and proceeded to sell it to stores. But more on that later.

Timelessness

There is a level of inspiration that is totally consuming. Some people respond to this muse with logic, but I respond with action. My astrology is largely fire and air, which seems to be how I operate. I became so enchanted with recipe creation that I barely slept, skipped meals and basically was never not “working.” I lost the line between work and play, my every breath carried thoughts of new recipes. It kind of shocks me looking back, but in truth it never even occurred to me for a single moment that there may be a book available about chocolate…or another way to learn besides diving in head first. Last night at dinner I was laughing with my husband about how crazy it seems in hindsight. These days I would study a subject first, right? As soon as those words left my mouth I laughed again at the realization that I still haven’t read a single article on how to create a successful blog. So maybe some things don’t change. Perhaps experiential learning is the only format for me and thank heavens I didn’t waste my money on college. But in my reflection of my own behaviors last night I came to clarity about something I am currently working on. I am undertaking the 8th rebranding of what my product looks like. As much as I would love to have it done yesterday, I am going to complete Marie Forleo’s BSchool first. Thanks Auntie, for the feedback that led me to this decision. Last night I was texting her font after font when she stopped me in my tracks by asking, “What does your voice LOOK like?”

My Momma Said

Yes, I am going to take you on the complete journey of my brand.  Part Two is now live.  If you are pondering turning your passion into a business and have any self-doubt, please tune back in to this story. I’m guessing you have friends who can benefit from you sharing this with them? Please do! I LOVE reading your comments and you can also private message me HERE. I leave you today with the best treasure I kept from my childhood. My Momma always told me “You can do anything you put your mind to.” I’m going to embellish here and say: “YOU can do anything you put your mind, heart and soul into.” Hell yes.  If you need to put a lil fire under your arse…I highly suggest Danielle Laporte’s Firestarter Sessions, which she is currently offering as a free download.  I’m working through it right now.  I’m willing to bet it will inspire you to think new thoughts and compel your mind, heart & desire into action.  xo

by Louise Bonner

Founder & CEO

Lulu's Chocolate & Lulu's Botanicals