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Orange Entrepreneur: A New Jewelry Business That Melts in Your Mouth
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Feb 11, 2009 --
Oswego art teacher melds two loves: chocolate and jewelry
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
By Kris Alcantara, Contributing writer
Diamonds rings don't come cheap, but at the Village Candy Shoppe in Manlius, you can get one for $12.95.
Promise Me Chocolate is a line of edible chocolate jewelry created by Stacey VanWaldick, of Oswego.
"Don't promise me forever, but promise me chocolate," VanWaldick says. "It's a good thing to have someone promise you that."
VanWaldick, 35, started making jewelry out of chocolate two years ago, while pursuing a master's degree in jewelry making and metal molding at Syracuse University. Using custom molds and fine chocolate, she created a collection of gems, rings and bonbons that look so pretty, people think twice about eating them.
"The reaction I always get is, 'Can I eat them?' " VanWaldick says. "They're so delicious. Well, the idea is not just to look at them but to eat them, too."
With the help of professors at SU's Martin J. Whitman School of Management and the Syracuse Community Test Kitchen (COMTEK) at the South Side Innovation Center, VanWaldick turned a class project create rings using material other than metal into a business.
Initially, she experimented with wax, then chocolate wafers from the craft store. She studied the art of candy-making and learned how to temper, or stabilize, various kinds of chocolate. Soon, she invested in fancier chocolate for practice.
"If they're going to look cool, they have to taste awesome, too," VanWaldick says.
Eventually, she teamed up with Meyers Chocolates, of Oneida, where her chocolate pieces are now made and packaged.
"My goal is to have my own candy shop or chocolate shop," VanWaldick says. "For now, to get it started, I have two stainless-steel kitchens at home where I practice and engineer molds. When they're ready, I hand it over to them."
Promise Me Chocolate offers a variety of jewels in solid chocolate; gem-shaped truffles; cream-filled bonbons and chocolate rings.
The pieces are made with dark, milk and occasionally white chocolate, and fillings include chocolate ganache, raspberry, hazelnut, lemon, strawberry and peanut butter, among others. Using colored pigments, the jewels are dusted with golds, pinks and blues.
"They're very pretty," says Kathy Chappini, owner of the Village Candy Shoppe in Manlius, who has been selling VanWaldick's creations since December.
"People like things that are different," Chappini adds. "They were amazed. We sold everything she's got, and now I have people looking for them for Valentine's Day."
VanWaldick, who teaches art at Oswego High School, first fell in love with jewelry-making while studying fashion design at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. After taking an elective in jewelry-making, she switched majors.
"I loved it," VanWaldick said. "I always knew it was what I wanted to do."
Since then, VanWaldick has worked in two local jewelry stores and pioneered a jewelry-making program at Oswego High School.
When she's not teaching art and designing new molds, VanWaldick spreads the word of Promise Me Chocolate. Recently, she participated in a bridal show in Skaneateles and supplied more than 150 chocolate jewelry samples.
Incubator helps foster new food products
Feb 10, 2009 --
Incubator helps foster new food products
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
By Nancy Cole, Staff writer
Four local women have brought their homemade recipes to market through the Syracuse Community Test Kitchen, at the South Side Innovation Center, a business incubator on Syracuse's South Side.
The test kitchen project, a collaboration between SU and Morrisville State College, received $150,000 from the Enitiative project. It assists aspiring food entrepreneurs in developing recipes, processing shelf-stable products and designing packaging. Successful participants are referred to Morrisville's Nelson Farms, a small-scale food processing center.
Lynne Foster, the test kitchen's product development coordinator, said the Syracuse test kitchen is different from other test kitchens in that food entrepreneurs get help developing their recipes and their business. Participants work with business counselors to develop a business plan, conduct market research and become educated about U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements.
The test kitchen opened in March, and 12 participants have been accepted into the program.
"We're creating new businesses," Foster said.
Stacey VanWaldick, of Oswego, is selling chocolate jewelry through her new business, Promise Me Chocolate, which the test kitchen helped launch.
Officials from the test kitchen helped her develop a business plan and connected her with a candy maker in Oneida and with the Village Candy Shoppe in Manlius, which sells some of VanWaldick's chocolate.
"I've loved every second of this," VanWaldick said.
SU alum prepares chocolate shop for
Daily Orange -- Feb 5, 2009 --
By: Bethany Bump
The average price for a diamond engagement ring hit an all-time high of $2,600 in 2005, according to a CNN study.
Step into Candy Village Shoppe in Manlius, N.Y., and it's a different scene.
A finely cut diamond placed in a ring band goes for $12.95.
And you can eat it, too.
That's because Candy Village Shoppe holds a stock of Promise Me Chocolate rings and other jewelry, crafted from the hands and mind of Stacey VanWaldick, a former Syracuse University graduate student.
VanWaldick, founder and proprietor of Promise Me Chocolate, created her own line of chocolate jewelry at the Syracuse Community Test Kitchen (COMTEK) in SU's South Side Innovation Center.
"I guess I just started playing around with making molds and pouring the chocolate," VanWaldick said. "They were sort of crude-looking at first, but I kept refining. I thought there was potential there when I finally got them the way I wanted them. People liked them and the university started buying them for events, and from there I started thinking, 'This could be a real thing.'"
Her chocolate jewelry line did become a real thing with the help of Lynne Foster, product development director at COMTEK and Kathy Chappini, owner of Village Candy Shoppe.
Chappini attended a test kitchen showcase at COMTEK last year, and VanWaldick's line of chocolate jewelry - emerald, diamond, oval and heart-shaped gems, rings, bonbons and truffles - caught her eye.
"I said, 'Let's try that in my store,'" Chappini said. "It's a good venue for her, it helps get her business out there. It's a unique product and a great seller."
Chappini put Promise Me Chocolate on the shelves in Village Candy Shoppe in late December. Now, a little more than a month later, she has customers waiting for more product to come in.
"We sold almost all of the product she brought in," Chappini said. "Once it comes in, I end up calling people to let them know - they wait for it."
VanWaldick, an art and jewelry-making teacher at Oswego High School, got into the chocolate jewelry craft while studying jewelry making and metalsmithing at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. But it took her a while to get there.
"I started out in fashion design, actually," VanWaldick said. "I took a jewelry course as an elective and I loved it. I loved working with my hands, I loved all of the possibilities with the metal."
As much as she enjoyed the art, she never realized jewelry making was a viable career option.
"It was though," she said. "I took one class - one elective - and I was totally hooked. I fell in love and I switched my major and that was that."
VanWaldick credits her SU professors and the people at SSIC with helping to get her product off the ground. She told one of her professors about her chocolate jewelry and they brought her attention to SU's test kitchen.
From there, the grind work began. With the help of Lynne Foster, COMTEK's product development director, VanWaldick found a co-packer and a chocolatier, who she describes as a "subcontractor of sorts." She provides him with her molds and tells him how she wants them, and he sells them to her. Foster helped with her business plan, price points, packing and marketing plan.
Even before she took business courses at SU's Martin J. Whitman School of Management though, VanWaldick knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur.
"I've just always wanted to have my own business," VanWaldick said. "I love the lifestyle of having a studio or little chocolate shop. As an artist, who wouldn't want to sit in their studio all day and make things for people and earn a living?"
VanWaldick will be serving 150 to 200 of her requested chocolate jewelry samples at a bridal show in Skaneateles this weekend. She plans to expand her business to New York City eventually, she said, and perhaps elsewhere.
"I feel like things are finally starting to come together," she said. "So as long as I can keep everyone's interest, I'll stay with it. I love designing. I love creating."
Promise Me Chocolate products are available at the Village Candy Shoppe in Manlius, N.Y. They are FDA approved, of course.
Syracuse Community Test Kitchen helps launch local chocolate jewelry business
Syracuse University Today -- Jan 29, 2009 --
Thursday, January 29, 2009
A year ago, opening her own business to sell edible chocolate jewelry seemed like nothing more than a pipe dream to Stacey VanWaldick, a resident of Oswego, N.Y. But after VanWaldick spent time at the Syracuse Community Test Kitchen (COMTEK), located in Syracuse University's South Side Innovation Center (SSIC) on South Salina Street in Syracuse, her dream began to take shape. Today, she is founder and sole proprietor of Promise Me Chocolate, which sells premium artisan chocolate gems, rings and bonbons crafted from custom molds and using only the finest chocolate and fillings by Meyers Chocolates of Oneida, N.Y.
"I am very excited about how well received Promise Me Chocolate has been," says VanWaldick. "People are enthusiastic about how good the chocolate jewelry pieces taste and also about how unique they are. When people first see them, they ask, 'Can I eat that?' They are pretty amazed that not only is the jewelry edible, but that it tastes so good." VanWaldick's success would not have been possible without the assistance of COMTEK and Lynne Foster, COMTEK's product development director. Foster led VanWaldick through the steps of taking a favorite recipe and scaling it up for commercial sale. The process of transitioning from concept to saleable product required developing a business plan; troubleshooting and engineering molds, ingredients, processes and packaging; establishing a target group; and creating a marketing plan.
"Lynne Foster at COMTEK and the SSIC as a whole have been invaluable in the development of Promise Me Chocolate," says VanWaldick. "They have helped me with everything from finding a co-packer to getting my product on the shelves of a local store." Promise Me Chocolate products are available now at the Village Candy Shoppe in Manlius, N.Y.
The seeds for creating edible chocolate jewelry were planted when VanWaldick was studying jewelry making and metalsmithing at the Parsons School of Design in New York City. From Parsons, VanWaldick began teaching art and jewelry making at Oswego High School and was able to hone her idea while earning her master's degree in fine arts at SU, where she began working with materials other than metal and was introduced to the process of mold making. Mold making and a love of chocolate were instrumental in the development of Promise Me Chocolate.
"Promise Me Chocolate is a great example of what COMTEK can help a budding food entrepreneur accomplish," says Foster. "Stacey had an interesting idea and the passion to pursue it, and COMTEK helped turn that passion into a reality. I'm proud to say all our clients have products in various boutique grocery stores around Central New York, and we are looking forward to helping them grow their businesses even further outside the CNY area."
In conjunction with the SSIC, COMTEK also offers training for accurate costing, pricing, sales and marketing, and other related issues critical for success in the competitive food industry. COMTEK is a joint partnership with the Whitman School of Management at SU and the Nelson Farms subsidiary of Morrisville State College. The project is funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
For more information about COMTEK, contact Lynne Foster at (315) 443-8629 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Media queries can be directed to Amy Mehringer, director of communications, Whitman School of Management, at (315) 443-3834 or email@example.com.