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At Saul Good, every day we make friends with supremely talented and passionate people who create the most delectable delicacies and confections in Canada. We’ve asked them to share their inspiring stories with us. Today we’re talking to Lisa Gardin, owner of LisaLou’s Chocolate Bar.

Tell us a bit about your company.

After 15 years working in artisan chocolate shops around Vancouver and abroad, I finally took the leap to open LisaLou's Chocolate Bar! I have created a unique collection of layered chocolate bars and nostalgic confections. It's all about layering textures and flavours, including whole roasted nuts, chewy salted caramels, fruit jellies and pralines.

Why and when did you start your company?

I opened LisaLou's Chocolate Bar on June 17, 2016 in the pursuit of bringing a collection of layered chocolate bars to market. I could never find a chocolate bar with natural ingredients and the characteristics of a candy bar, so I decided to create one.

What inspires your work? 

Being able to step back and allow my friends and family to tell me what they want in a chocolate bar, and take honest feedback. Our bars have evolved over the last year as a result.

What sets you apart from similar companies? 

I set out to be a more affordable chocolate shop in Vancouver. I feel the market is filled with gorgeous branded packaging and elegant truffles, but I wanted to create snacks and treats for everyday eating.

What values drive you? 

Quality of ingredients will never be compromised. It’s important for me to know where my chocolate comes from, and who harvested it. I support Cacao Barry and the International Cocoa Initiative, which helps support cacao farmers and their families. 

What are you most proud of? 

Working with my fiance Mike: I'm teaching him how to be a chocolatier! I wasn't sure working together was the best idea, but I really need a partner I can count on and he's been there every step of the way. And now he makes the chocolate bars!

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

They are surprised by two things: 1) that I've been working with chocolate since I was 19 and this is my lifelong dream, and 2) that my chocolate bars have names: Marc, Pete, Sue, Joan and Oscar.

Where do you get inspiration for new products? 

All of my amazing customers! Who doesn't want a chocolate bar named after them? I have a running list of requests.

What’s the toughest part of your work? 

Keeping a work/life balance in the first year seemed impossible, but now that our team is expanding I'm excited to find time for friends again. Keeping on top of the bookkeeping is also tough!

What makes the ingredients you source special? 

I am very particular about which ingredients make the cut. I seek out top brands from all over the world, and from BC’s  own backyard.

Where do you want to go next with your business? 

As we outgrow our little shop on Main Street, we are hoping to open a factory and be able to deliver our chocolate bars all over North America in the next few years.

What’s your music right now? 

I find myself stuck in the 90's more often that not. I like being able to sing along to favourites while making 1,000 chocolate bars in a day! Apple iTunes makes it easy to find a new playlist every day.

What book(s) are you reading

Mike bought me The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (John le Carré). I'm only on page four, but eventually I will get around to reading the rest! Maybe January?

What is your favourite local restaurant right now, and why?

Verdura just opened up on Main and Broadway. It offers hearty and filling salads. Who has time to cook?

What’s your favourite local neighbourhood, and why? 

I have lived in so many neighbourhoods in Vancouver, and it's hard to pick as they all keep changing. I love exploring, and finding new shops and old favourites. We live in Strathcona now, and it's fun to wander up Hastings.

Where do you like to travel the most, and why?

 My first trip was to Paris when I was 20: I went to over 40 chocolate shops in 2 days. I still have some of the boxes. I loved living in Tokyo and Dubai, and working in chocolate shops with people from all over the world is inspiring. I also love coming home to Vancouver. 

Discover Lisa Lou products in our Vancouver Gift Baskets.