About Chocolate Girl
A certified holistic health counselor who has studied with Andrew Weil, Deepak Chopra, and David Wolfe, Vanessa created Gnosis Chocolate in 2008 at the green age of 23 years old to help her clients experience the joy of conscious nutrition.
Raw chocolate is Vanessa’s vehicle for sharing her innovative expertise in nutrition, transformation, and conscious entrepreneurialism with the world.
Vanessa and her company have been featured in many print and web publications (VegNews, Edible Queens, Health Magazine, Spirituality & Health Magazine, etc) on television and radio (NBC, Early Show, Martha Stewart, Sundance, Bloomberg’s NY Channel, etc.) and public speaking engagements (Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Health Freedom Expo, etc).
written by Vanessa in July of 2010:
I made chocolate for the first time during the last weekend of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. It was the same weekend David Wolfe (world authority on raw cacao) came to speak. I brought some of the bars to school to share with my peers and they went crazy! Why did I choose to make raw chocolate instead of conventional, roasted chocolate? Well, because raw anything is closer to nature, so it’s less processed - there’s less “stuff” added to it. It has gone through less machines which alone leaves less chances for contamination! Also the neurotransmitters, enzymes and antioxidants are much stronger and at higher levels in raw vs cooked chocolate. I also promote raw chocolate because the raw food movement is a movement toward eco-sustainability and health. And that’s why every single ingredient I use is raw. Because not only is the food itself healthier because it’s raw but also because raw food production is much more environmentally friendly. It’s much more loving and in touch with nature. So the movement itself is something I want to support.
What does my day look like? In recent days I’ve been spending a lot of time on updating the website, answering customer service calls and emails, our upcoming Organic Certification. I also spend about an hour a day working on projects for other people - I really see what I am doing as a way to help others grow as well. I spend a LOT of time on sourcing. I source from all over the world, from importers who are as close to the farm as possible.
The most beautiful part for me is the ability to chose who I support. I really believe voting with your dollar is the only way to change our society in commerce. We can always choose support the companies that are conscious - it just takes a little digging. To make a product from these conscious companies is one of the most powerful tools that owning Gnosis Chocolate has given me.
The biggest challenge for me, being a 24 year old, is that I’ve never managed a company. There are so many things you want to do for your employees but you also have to think about productivity. There is an important balance between productivity and having fun. I want my employees to be really happy, healthy and not overwork themselves. Two of my employees started their own businesses while working at Gnosis. Thats one of the most exciting things I like to cultivate.
- In making decisions, your intuition comes first. Listening to my gut is the only thing thats enabled me to have this company! Get input from people but ultimately do what feels right to you so you can stand behind your decisions.
- Do your best to have a really happy team. You don’t want people who don’t believe in what you are doing. While I’m still small, I buy fresh organic veggies for my employees and feed them superfoods and spring water, and coconut water, and CHOCOLATE! so they stay healthy and happy.
- Get community support. Rather then putting money into advertising, I like to locate Gnosis’ funds towards the community by giving as much as I can to organizations I believe in, helping small companies startup that are in alignment with what I do, and throwing events and parties. Infusing the abundance back into the community not only raises my morale but also gets community support. That goes so much further then money spent on marketing because you earn the space on the supermarket shelf, rather then buying it. If every company went through word of mouth we would have a very different society. If you put all your efforts into the best possible product people will promote it for you. The reason the stores carry Gnosis Chocolate is because somebody in the community walked into the store and asked the buyer to carry our chocolate. That is straight proof that putting effort, love and gratitude into the community is the way to run a successful business.