So, anyone that knows me knows that there is nothing in the world I love more than chocolate. And, after going fully organic candy is one of the things I rarely ever get to eat anymore – unless I make it myself. But, I am so busy making cookies all the time that I rarely have time to make candy as it's a more time consuming process.
I also recently have a new allergy to tapioca, which is so weird because I have never been allergic to any food in my entire life. And, tapioca is a vegetable! But, apparently it's a thing, and people have allergies to this root veggie. And, the good for you chocolate candies out there all usually have tapioca in them (like UnReal Candy…) So when I came across Moo Chocolates I was so surprised to see an Organic Chocolate Rice Crisps Bar that didn't have tapioca in it!
Then I got to looking at their other flavors and the Creamy Milk Chocolate Bar seemed like it would remind me of some of my favorite candies growing up, Vanilla Bean Buttercreams. I knew I had to try these chocolate bars! So, I reached out to Jackie, the owner of Moo Chocolates, and asked her if she wanted to be part of my Organic Makers series. She did, so we talked some shop about the better chocolate Moovement she is starting…
Mimi: What started Moo Chocolates and when was the company actually or officially created?
Jackie: My children and I spent summers in Switzerland, visiting family, hiking in the beautiful mountains and eating tons of chocolate. Every summer we'd go home with a suitcase full of delicious Swiss Chocolate. One summer my eldest son asked, “Why do we only buy chocolate in Switzerland?”, and I reminded him that it was because the chocolates were made with real foods and wholesome ingredients. I was one of those mother's that would look at ingredients whenever my kids asked for a snack. If anything was unpronounceable or not food, it was a NO GO 🙂 That's when we decided to make our own chocolates for the U.S. market. We started in September 2009, but relaunched products in 2015.
M: What is your background, or what did you do before Moo?
J: I worked for Procter & Gamble in Geneva Switzerland developing businesses in the Middle East and Far East. Finance first, then moved to brand management. Last job with P&G was brand manager of skin care for Switzerland. Then Estee Lauder International. After a stint in NY, I worked as Estee Lauder brand manager in Amsterdam Holland. Always worked for big companies in smaller countries, so I got involved in all levels of business. Launched many products during that time as well. Another reason for starting MOO was I wanted to pass on to my kids some of my experience, and teach them how to start something of their own. Not surprisingly my eldest son is now at a start up.
M: How did you come up with the name?
J: Alex, Nico and Linnea did during initial brainstorming. Once we started talking about a chocolate company we spent the vacation discussing how we would go about doing it. They always teased me for my love of Swiss Cows.. i talk to them:)…. AND MOO brings to mind milk in chocolate….
M: Why was making Moo Chocolates organic important to you?
J: Our first objective was to make DELICIOUS chocolate, while using the best ingredients. We use a creamy milk organic chocolate that does not compromise taste one bit! At home we eat that way as well.
When my kids were younger and they asked for a snack – I would look at ingredients and if anything was unrecognizable as food.. it was a NO GO! At the time that meant ‘Pirate's Booty' at Whole Foods, was one of the few snacks they could buy. Along with the suitcase of chocolates I would bring home from Switzerland every summer.
M: A lot of people are familiar now with the terms organic and non GMO. But, I see all your chocolate bars are rainforest alliance certified, can you explain to everyone what that means exactly?
J: It is important to us to use products that pay attention to the planet and to make sure that everyone behind a MOO bar is being treated fairly. So we looked for an organization that supports our ideals.
Ill quote RAF “Frogs are indicator species, meaning that they are a symbol of environmental health, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Our green frog certification seal indicates that a farm, forest, or tourism enterprise has been audited to meet standards that require environmental, social, and economic sustainability.”
M: I noticed you have a few bars that just say natural, why is that?
J: We will continue to introduce new Organic bars when we can… we have lots of goodies in the making. There are two reasons for Natural.
1) As an example – we did not find an organic graham that worked in our MOO bars. So went for crunchiness and taste instead. Short of making them ourselves.. we found a small company called Grateful Graham that makes our Graham Crackers using yummy ingredients like whole wheat flours, organic agave and toasted wheat germ.
2) Organic is not important to everyone… we can offer a natural MOO bar for customers who want our delicious bars with real ingredients, who don't necessarily want to pay the up-charge for organic.
M: Where do you sell your chocolate bars and the adorable mini moos?
J: Mostly in the North East, as we are located in Greenwich, Connecticut. But, we are slowing starting to expand to places like Chicago and Texas. And, MOO will be available online in June!
M: What has been one of the biggest challenges as a Chocolate Bar company/small business owner?
J: The hardest part has been managing growth.. Not too fast, as it gets expensive, but also not too slow. I could write a book on that by now! Also, being very careful where I spend my time! Focus on important stuff! The chocolate part, from recipes, new products, branding, has all been fun!
M: How many employees do you have now?
J: We have a pretty big MOO team at this point but it is all outsourced. I spend a lot of time on phone and emails. It also allows for flexibility – I can work from almost anywhere!
M: What are your plans for Moo Chocolates right now, any big things you’re working on?
J: We are currently building distribution. I'd say growth rate and costs is something I'm spending a lot of time thinking about for the moment. Want to get it right!
Jackie also sent me some Moo Bars! But, of course while I was taking photos I think I ate 4 Moos, they are so good! The Creamy Milk is definitely my fave and the Rice Crispy one was so good too!
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