It's art! It's organic! It's Free-Trade! Best of all, it's a yummy chocolate bar unlike any other!
Edible Art: An idea takes shape
This project brings together a tile artist, a craft chocolate company, and artisan boxmakers (and me, the chocolatier) to make and market a very special, and very sustainable, chocolate bar.
As an artisan chocolatier, I strive to honor that splendid moment when the silky richness of chocolate transforms an ordinary instant into a special, time-stopping experience. Art adds even more dimension and joy to that special, sensual experience.
At my shop, St. Croix Chocolate Company, we use local organic ingredients, including cream, butter, maple syrup and honey produced within 10 miles of the shop, along the St. Croix River.Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
A natural subject for chocolate
A bit up the river, artist Laura McCaul sculpts clay in the shapes of birds and animals around her studio. I love her work, and asked her to create tiles that we could turn into chocolate bars at my chocolate shop. She made beautiful renditions of area songbirds, and I had molds made from her tiles.
Just the right chocolate
Such edible art requires a special chocolate, and I found just what I wanted from an innovative San Francisco-based company called TCHO. I visited their lab and learned how they work with cacao growers in Peru to improve genetics and flavor by working with farmers (plus, they get bonus points for developing an iPhone app that can control their lab remotely!) Best of all, their organic chocolate is the best I've ever eaten, and I'm excited to use it in the chocolate bars.
Better (for everyone) boxes
Because the bars are dimensionally sculpted, they are much larger than the thin, flat bars that dominate the market now (mmmm, more chocolate!) No off-the-shelf box would fit them, and none would do them justice either. Our customers told us they hate tossing the box and wrapper after they eat chocolate, and they wanted to be able to re-use any box we had made for the bars.
A Chicago company called Distant Village provided an excellent solution for us. They designed a completely Earth-friendly keepsake box that is hand made by artisans. They are Free Trade, and their packaging is tree-free, sustainable, and, of course, beautiful. If you saw the video, those are the prototypes shown. The boxes will look just like those.
Putting it all together
Now it's time to actually produce the boxes, and send this collaborative project out into the world. I know you'll like these bars a lot, from the fabulous chocolate itself, to supporting artists, small businesses and Earth-friendly agriculture. I've laid the groundwork for launching this project, but I'd like to invite you to become a partner, too, so we can take the next step.
Your chance to be part of the project
This unusual edible art project needs your help to give it a final push to get it off the ground. We'll use the funds to pay for our first order of the boxes. (What you see in the video are prototype boxes.) There's a required deposit, so the artisans can gather materials, and a minimum number of boxes we must order to get on their schedule.
Your support at any level is greatly appreciated, not just for the financial aspect, but because we think building a community around this project is a pretty powerful part of it (hopefully, you've noticed that in how we've brought local and global artists together already). If we should exceed our goal, we'll use any additional funds to pay to get the word (and the chocolate) out to the press, distributors and the chocolate-loving world.
And, of course, there are wonderful chocolate-y incentives available when you back this project. You'll get the organic bars, packaged in the sustainable boxes, in fact. It's time to make great chocolate in a way that's good for people, small business and the Earth. We look forward to your questions and your participation.
Below are some photos that may give you a better understanding of who we are, and what we're doing with your backing.
The photo above shows our hand-decorated raspberry bon bons, so you can get an idea of the depth of our work.
This is an example of the work of tile artist Laura McCaul. She carves the slabs of clay, then fires them outdoors in big kilns.
Distant Village artisans hand make the Free-Trade, sustainable boxes.
I meant to say Fair Trade in the references on this page. I can't locate how to edit it at this point, but please do know that both the chocolate and the boxes are produced using fair trade practices. --Robyn
pledged of $5,730 goal
seconds to go
Mar 9, 2012 - Apr 3, 2012
Pledge $5 or more
Handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: Apr 2012
Pledge $10 or more
Set of four commemorative postcards which you may pick up or we'll mail to you. Plus a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: Apr 2012
Pledge $25 or more
Box of two handcrafted, artisan chocolate bon bons made in our shop. You may pick them up or we'll mail them to you within the U.S. Plus, a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: May 2012
Pledge $40 or more
You choose a dark or milk organic chocolate bar, packaged in the handsome and sustainable box. You may pick it up or we'll mail it to you within the U.S. Plus, a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: May 2012
Pledge $60 or more
You choose a dark or milk organic chocolate bar, packaged in the handsome and sustainable box. Plus, we'll add a box of two artisan chocolate bon-bons. You may pick them up or we'll mail them to you within the U.S. Plus, a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: May 2012
Pledge $75 or more
One dark AND one milk organic chocolate bar, each packaged in a handsome and sustainable box. You may pick them up or we'll mail them to you within the U.S. Plus, a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: May 2012
Pledge $100 or more
Includes one handsome and sustainable box filled with 9 assorted organic bon bons, each one handcrafted in our shop AND one organic chocolate bar. You may pick them up or we'll mail them to you within the U.S. Also includes invitation for two to private preview launch party with abundant chocolate samples to taste and live entertainment (date TBA) and four commemorative postcards. Also, backers at this level will be listed on our web site and receive a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $250 or more
If you really like chocolate, you're going to be very, very happy. Backers at this level receive a handsome and sustainable box filled with 16 assorted organic bon bons, each one handcrafted in our shop. In addition, you receive a milk AND dark and milk organic chocolate bar in the handsome, sustainable boxes. You may pick these up or we will mail to you in the U.S., invitation for four to private preview launch party with abundant chocolate samples to taste and live entertainment (date TBA) and four commemorative postcards. Also, backers at this level will be listed on our web site and receive a handwritten thank-you note and our sincere appreciation.Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $500 or more
This includes everything in the $250 backer package, plus Robyn, our head chocolatier, will work with you to create a chocolate featuring flavors you choose, which will also be named after you. It will be included in our 16-piece organic box, and you will be named in our printed flavor key, which goes in every box.Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $1,000 or more
This includes everything in the $250 backer package, plus one rocking chocolate making party! Robyn, our head chocolatier will host a private chocolate making lesson for you and five friends at our shop in Marine on St. Croix. You will be able to decorate molds, fill molds with chocolate, create a ganache center, fill the molds with the ganache center, and close the molds with chocolate, for a yummy finished product to take home with you and enjoy whenever you like!Estimated delivery: Jul 2012
Pledge $2,000 or more
The party comes to you, and this time, it's personal! Back us at this level, and you'll get everything in the $250 backer package, plus 250 chocolates for your wedding, party or special event. Plus, we'll even put the custom design of your choice (including up to two-color logo, names, family crest, etc) on the chocolates and deliver them within the Twin Cities metro area! You pick the flavor. You pick the chocolate. You pick the image. You pick the day! We'll make it happen whenever you choose between June 1 and Dec. 31, 2012!Estimated delivery: Dec 2012