At Saul Good, we work with artisans all across Canada - not just near our hubs in Vancouver and Toronto.

One such artisan is Jacek Chocolate Couture in Edmonton, AB.

Founded by Jacqueline Jacek, Jacek Chocolate Couture has grown from a basement operation to three retail locations across Alberta and a bustling online store. This beloved local business, founded in the Sherwood Park neighbourhood, has raised the bar for artisan confections in Alberta and received countless awards nationally and internationally for their handmade chocolate.

We recently sat down with Jacek to talk about crafting couture chocolate. Read on to learn more about how she got started, where she sees her business going next, and how her team creates joy.

 

Photo Credit: Jamie Tweedy, Tweedy Studios. Courtesy WHERE Edmonton Magazine

 

Why did you start your company?

I've always been an entrepreneur. I started my first business when I was 11, and have never thought of having a corporate career. I always knew I wanted a career that created joy.

My top two loves in life are fashion and food. So, I decided to combine both of them to create fashionable chocolate.

 

How did you get started?

I started by learning about chocolate. I was in New Zealand and decided to enroll in a Canadian school online to learn about chocolate and the principles of how to make chocolate. It wasn't until I moved back to Canada 5 years later that my husband and I chatted about what we wanted to do with our lives and where we wanted our careers to go. I had this idea to create a fashionable designer chocolate brand.

To get me started, my husband and my father worked together to build a commercial kitchen in our house. I worked my corporate job (sales and marketing) during the day and pursued my chocolate career at night.

 

What gets you excited about going to work every day?

I’d say it’s the people that we work with and the people that we serve.

I think what we do is important. We serve the guests in our store, but we are also serving our communities. We buy our chocolate ethically, which helps to support the international communities our chocolate comes from. The more chocolate we buy and sell, the more joy we spread in our communities locally.

 

What sets you apart from similar companies?

We have a company-wide commitment to joy. We sprinkle joy in everything we do - from our guest experience in-store, to how we design our product. For example, in our store, you walk in and get a sample of our chocolate. You can look at our beautifully designed boxes. And the experience (minus the sample, of course) is replicated online. We’re trying to create joy at every customer touchpoint.

 

Photo Credit: A Jacek store all dressed up for the holidays.

 

What are your business values?

JEETA! The acronym stands for Joy, Experience, Excellence, Teamwork, and Artistry. My team strives to represent JEETA every day.

Joy is always at the core of the business from who we hire to how we source our chocolate.

 

What is your business's greatest accomplishment?

I’m proud to have built a solid team. None of this exists without everyone here working so hard and committed to providing JEETA.

 

What are people most surprised about when you tell them about your company?

1 - People are always surprised to learn that we started in a basement and 2 - They're surprised at how hands-on our production is.

For example, the designs on our bonbons are painted by hand. People don't realize how long it takes to do something that detailed. I think at first, people don't understand why fine chocolate is so much more expensive than confectionary. It all comes down to labor.

 

Where do you get inspiration for new products?

From everywhere! I see the beauty in everything. I’m always thinking about the seasons, and asking myself and my team, “what do the seasons taste like? What are the flavors you know for Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter? How can we emulate them?

Our collections are not chosen just by me - it's very much a group effort. We all put our heads together in the creative process to come up with something amazing.

 

What’s the toughest part of your work? Or, what's been your greatest challenge?

Seasonality. 40% of our annual business is in the lead up to Christmas (I’m sure Saul Good can empathize with that).

We have to make sure that we are staffed properly and that we're taking care of our people so they're not overworked and get sick. I’ve learned that you can't say yes to everything. Forecasting is such a challenge. If there's one thing for sure about forecasting, it's that we'll never get it 100% right.

 

Where do you want to go next with your business? What’s your goal?

Soon we will be exporting our chocolate bars to Europe. We have buyers there already, so it's a matter of getting our ducks in a row from an operational perspective.

We have customers lined up in Romania, Germany, Belgium, France, and the UK. We couldn’t be more excited! We’ll be working with a broker for boutique stores that is values-aligned and willing to grow with us.

 

What's the best feedback you've ever gotten about your product? How did it make you feel?

The feedback from customers is what keeps me going. It feels so good to hear how our chocolate brings somebody joy. People can taste the love in our products. That might sound ambiguous, but the reason we do what we do is to create an experience. We are always thrilled when people can taste that.

 

 

 

You can find Jacek chocolate alongside other great Canadian artisans in our Canada gift baskets and Christmas gift baskets.