Shelley Wallace, Hagensborg Chocolates, Burnaby
Shelley Wallace is on a mission to sweeten the world!!!! Since 2007, her business Hagensborg Chocolates has produced and sold specialty chocolates to retailers throughout North America and beyond.
In 2017, she felt that it was important to dig deep into her supply chain and it led her to discover the true horrors of the cacao industry, the trafficking of children. She said, “How can we say we are sweetening the world while supporting these horrors? It was clear that we needed to source our cacao directly from farmers with strong human values and pay them a premium above world market prices.”
Since May 2017, Hagensborg has re-launched the Truffle Pig chocolate bars with slave free, directly traded cacao sourced from small high quality Central American farmers.
Q. What services has Women’s Enterprise Centre provided you and how have these services helped you?
A. WEC has provided me with working capital loans, informational seminars and a network of likeminded women. The working capital was crucial in helping us complete our transparent and traceable supply chain and importing of our new ethical chocolate. The seminars allowed me to look deeper into certain aspects of the company. The networking has brought some great lifelong friendships.
Q. What inspired you to take the leap and start your own business?
A. I created the Truffle Pig brand in another company where I was employed. I believed in what I created and wanted to give the brand my 100% attention and felt I needed to take the plunge on my own to enable me to do that. It was like diving into the deep end of the pool without a life jacket!
Q. What’s the biggest lesson you learned when starting your business?
A. Get all agreements in writing!
Q. What are your goals for the business?
A. I want to help end slavery in cacao production.
Q. What is your greatest strength as an entrepreneur?
A. My work ethic, intuition and passion for the chocolate industry.
Q. What personal lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur?
A. Don’t take failure personally, just learn from it and move on.
Q. What were your major successes? At what point did you know you had achieved success?
A. There have been many points that I felt successful but there is one that stands out the most. Before I started in the chocolate industry I was a waitress. I wanted my children to grow up knowing that you can do whatever you want in life and I didn’t feel I was doing it as a waitress. My children, who were 3 and 5 years old when I started in the chocolate industry and now 16 and 19 yrs., recently said to me that I had proven this to them and they were inspired to achieve their personal goals! When you can inspire change in future generations, I feel that this is true success.