Follow Your Heart: One Woman’s Love for Chocolate Sparks New Business Endeavor

“It’s impossible,” said pride.
“It’s risky,” said experience.
“It’s pointless,” said reason.
“Give it a try,” whispered the heart.

Christabel's Chocolates - Sunshine Coast, BCIt’s trendy for people out of school, full of heart and energy, to jump into the entrepreneurial world.  It’s even common for some people who have been following one life track to switch gears and head in a completely different direction.  Some of these decisions are based upon job markets, economy, tapping into their inner passion or just following a dream.

While everyone may have a different reason for branching out into the unknown, it does take a bit of the same recipe to accomplish it.  You have to have heart, a strong belief in yourself and look beyond the fear to take that first step off the safety sidewalk and into the unknown.

This past weekend, I visited one of the local holiday craft fairs in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia in search of unique gifts for family created by members of the community. The craft fair offered aromatherapy scents for the home, knitted hats and scarves and even detailed tea light holders.  But there was one booth that stood out to me — handmade artisanal chocolates.

“Have you been here before?” I asked the youthful looking woman behind the display table. There were stacks of cute little kraft cardboard boxes filled with various pieces of chocolate.Christabel's Chocolates

“No, this is my first time,” the woman, known as Christabel Watson said. “This is my first time selling chocolate at all.”

According to Watson, she had been making homemade chocolate for over 20 years. It started when she was a school teacher and would craft unique sweets for the children in her class and their parents.  After she left the teaching profession, she made chocolates for friends and families. It was crafted from her own ideas right in her home kitchen.  What started as caramels or chocolate covered pretzels evolved into Strawberry Balsamic or French Almond Nougat or Black Sallies (her personal creation).

Luckily for chocolate lovers and unfortunate for Watson, the chocolatier broke her ankle over the summer and found herself in the kitchen a bit more than in previous years. So, with the fall festival a short time away, Watson decided to give it a go.

Christabel's Chocolates“I figured I would try and sell them. See if anyone wanted them,” she told me as she wrapped up my purchases. In all honesty, I think we were her first sale of the day, but far from her last.

Here was someone who took something they loved and threw their hat into the ring to give it a try. She had made that decision to step off the sidewalk and into the traffic of business ownership.  That in itself is inspiring, but that’s not all.

It was the smile and her words that were dipped into fondness for what she does that touched me.  Here was someone doing what they loved to do, offering to share it with others.

She was kind to answer my questions and I wish her the best as her business grows (at this time, she doesn’t have a website or online presence).

And other than some tasty chocolates, I walked away with a reminder to listen to the heart and “give it a try.”

 

The Mandala: A Lesson in Community and Creativity

From the quiet beaches to the summer cottages to the artist colonies, a visit to the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada feels like an island getaway.  The area, less than two hours from downtown Vancouver, extends 177 km (110 mi) along the Strait of Georgia from Howe Sound to Desolation Sound.

It was here that my spouse and I participated in a collaborative art project that not only reminded me what the definition of community really is but also how it is necessary for the bigger picture.

According to the Sunshine Coast Canada.com blog, “since 1997, ‘Creeker’ artists aided and abetted by a crew of volunteers create a few magic days of public art at its best in the form of The Mandala in the cul-de-sac at the Roberts Creek Pier.”

Photo Courtesy: Roberts Creek Community Mandala (2012)

The event allows members of the community, tourists and weekenders to pick up a brush, tap into their inner artist and contribute to a much larger picture.  Last year’s community mural was of an owl, designed by artist Robert Marion with an amazing team of volunteers and painted by an estimated 600 people.

 

 

The image for 2013, revealed on Thursday for the weekend painting project consisted of three bees and what appeared to be a honeycomb backdrop.  My husband and I arrived shortly before sunset on Friday and there were about 100 people milling around the pavement art project.  Some were painting their contribution on the marked off areas, others were assisting new comers and some were just enjoying the experience.

 

While neither one of us would label ourselves painters, my husband and I did kick off our shoes, pick up a brush and added our own colorful design to the greater picture. It wasn’t about our talents or even what it was that we wanted to draw. It was about using a common medium to express ourselves to create a bigger picture.

The event reminded me of how each one of us, in our own artistic way, adds color to our surrounding community. Whether it is pottery, painting, writing, cooking or yoga practice, each one of us has a passion that when channeled through our work, play or both adds to our surroundings as a whole.  It’s a necessary element.

It was an amazing feeling to be part of something bigger, grander and with so much heart.

For the next year, a part of our creativity will be on display in Robert’s Creek. But the lesson learned from the paintbrush will linger far longer.

For additional photos and to check the progress, click here!