A story need not include any fairies to be considered a fairy tale.
What it does need is an unusual beginning, some good and evil characters, elements of royalty (or poverty), a lot of magical things happening, some recurring patterns, and universal truths.
The tale of SPAGnVOLA Chocolatier contains all these elements.
After ten years in the industry, there is not much these entrepreneurs haven’t seen!
This celebratory article wants to tell you about their business and how it miraculously unfolded. What lies ahead? Listen to our story…
Love will find you
Once upon a time, on an island called Hispaniola, a man walked into a bakery.
Eric Reid did not expect to find love, but the owner of the bakery, Crisoire, swept him off his feet. A mere three weeks later, Eric proposed.
The couple dreamt about living on a farm and raising crops. After a few misadventures involving livestock and other crops, they decided to try cocoa trees. ‘The trees spoke to us,’ Crisoire said in a 2016 article. ‘But we had no idea how to go about it.’
Look closely, and you’ll see a recurring pattern in our fairytale.
It can be based on the age-old adage: ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.' Believing in their dream, the Reids went to Chicago to study premium chocolate making.
Crisoire became a professional Chocolatier with a passion for creating her own blends of Caribbean flavorings, whereas Eric, as a former IT specialist, kept to the business side.
It became a winning combination. Today, SPAGnVOLA falls under the top ten best chocolate shops in the world.
As Eric traveled between the US and the Dominican Republic to supervise their growing operation, he became aware that evil lurks.
Traditionally, cocoa is farmed in West Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, but cocoa farmers are not paid well for their crops. The multi-billion chocolate industry essentially exploited these people, relying on their cheap labor without giving back to the communities.
The Reids decided to throw their weight behind the fair and ethical trade of chocolate.
Backed by the University of the West Indies, they are earmarked to begin training cocoa producers across the Caribbean to cut out the middleman and become chocolatiers themselves.
Cocoa growers can now take matters into their own hands and develop the right skills to grow premium cocoa beans. In fact, Eric Reid believes that the finest chocolate in the world can only be produced by cacao growers themselves.
The idea is to introduce quality controls, fair trade practices, and sustainable farming methods in most cocoa-producing countries. Each year, Mr. Reid travels extensively to reach this goal of bringing dignity and prosperity to cocoa farmers.
The company's mission is to bring balance and equitable share value partnerships to the table so that poverty can be removed and so that job security is a given. It is called 'adding value to the source countries.'
Projects in the near future will aim to do the same in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, the Congo, and Haiti.
Eric Reid pioneered a quality assurance process called the ‘Fine Flavored Circle of Excellence,’ which means that each cocoa variety’s best qualities in aroma and flavor are highlighted.
‘Every cocoa tree tells a story,’ Eric says.
There’s magic in genetics! Mass-market chocolates may never taste the same once you’ve tasted real chocolate. ‘Real chocolate’ has a distinct flavor and aroma.
At Hacienda de SPAGnVOLA, a hillside estate in Hato Mayor Del Rey in the Dominican Republic, the environment, soil, seed, and rain come together to produce a sustainable, dependable cacao bean. It is here that SPAGnVOLA originated.
The beans are cultivated traditionally: from hand-picking to fermenting, drying, and grading. Only the absolute finest beans find their way to Gaithersburg, Maryland, in the US to SPAGnVOLA’s artisan factory.
Chocolate is like wine
Some of the world’s most exquisite wines come from a particular region.
Eric Reid argues that cocoa beans from one specific estate have the same potential to create a bar of unique, superb chocolate that can’t be copied. (See the magic unicorn?)
In this case, the castle is called an ‘Artisan Chocolate Academy’.
Here, the Reids are inspiring and empowering the next surge of chocolate markers. They are trained and given opportunities to go out and make a difference in the world.
For many underprivileged farmers, this could mean the difference between staying poor or starting to create something for themselves and their families. A chocolate-producing factory on a farm can increase a farmer’s profit almost ten-fold.
In conclusion, we give you a few universal truths. Without it, the SPAGnVOLA story won’t be a genuine fairy tale.
The heartthrob of SPAGnVOLA is a boutique chocolate shop in Gaithersburg’s main street.
The shop opened in 2011 and boasts handcrafted, single-estate chocolate that frequently morphs into bonbons, truffles, and artisanal chocolate bars.
A Fairytale allows the reader to explore paths of action and virtues through different characters. Fairy tales provide answers as to what the world is really like. Fairy tales often conclude with ‘they all lived happily ever after.’
Is it so hard to see the fairy tale in SPAGnVOLA? The company is stellar in its relationships with others, achieving identity in the world of chocolate and in its serenity of reaching a mature company status.
It is truly ‘a happy ever after’.
Happy tenth anniversary, SPAGnVOLA!
Eric and Crisoire Reid
We Thank you!
"We are blessed to have this wonderful opportunity." - Crisoire Reid
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