We had the good fortune of connecting with Jackie Rome and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jackie, we’d love for you to start things off by telling us something about your industry that we and others not in the industry might be unaware of?
Hello! One thing about the chocolate making process that outsiders are likely not aware of is how incredibly temperamental chocolate is. There is a very precise method to getting chocolate to look shiny and have that perfect snap. First, it’s melted to 100 degrees, then it is cooled, then it is warmed again. This gives you the correct crystal structure for beautifully tempered chocolates. But all along the way, there are so many pitfalls waiting. The chocolate can be heated too much which can make it burn. It can be adversely affected by humidity in the air. The warmth of your kitchen can also affect it. When you are making everything by hand, there are just many opportunities for something to go wrong. So just know when you see that pretty little square of hand-crafted chocolate, there was someone babying it the whole way through!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Let’s see, there are a few unique qualities that set my chocolates apart from other chocolates in the marketplace. The first is the chocolate I use. It’s ethically-sourced, fair trade chocolate so not only is the quality extremely high, but it also supports the cacao farmers. The second is the natural ingredients I use. I’ve taken out artificial colors and flavors so what you are eating is a healthier version of your favorite treat. My designs are seasonal and can even be customized with a logo which gives my chocolates an edge. Lastly, my luxe packaging always turns heads. I’m probably most excited and proud to break even after 3 years in business. I still have much growth to do and have not yet accomplished all that I’ve set out to do. Each year I try to focus on new and different avenues that will expand my business. There’s no time to be comfortable with the status quo. That won’t accomplish my goals. It is not easy, I have contemplated giving up at times. But there is always a new avenue for me to pursue and I just have to believe that I will get there. Challenges aren’t necessarily bad. They force you to pivot. Sometimes, challenges make you streamline your process. You can learn so much just by how you take on a challenge and resolve it. Your business usually benefits in the long run from some of these hurdles and the steps you put in place to overcome. One important lesson I have learned along the way is take advantage of every opportunity that you feasibly can. If it’s a photo shoot that needs some free product, do it! In return you will get some beautiful, professional pictures of your work. If it’s a collaboration with another local business, say yes. This gives you a new audience to reach and also builds a relationship with another business owner in your own community. Supporting other small businesses is very important to me. What I would like everyone to know about my business is that Cocoa Rome makes the world just a little bit sweeter. And sometimes, a little bit of sweet is just what we need.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh wow, if my bestie was visiting me from out of town, I’d love to take her to some of my favorite local places. Even though I’m a chocolatier, one thing I love doing is visiting chocolate shops and one of my very favorites in the area is Letterpress Chocolate. I took my sister here for a tour and we had a blast plus, the chocolate is some of the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a lot! Of course, we would need to do a little wine tasting and I absolutely love the Malibu Wine Safari so we could see some exotic animals and enjoy some wine along the way. So far we are doing a lot of eating, so I’d take her to the Ventura Pier to do some peddle boating to work off some of those calories. Sometimes you can see the sea lions right there in the harbor. Being out on the water always makes me happy. On the way home, I’d stop at The Wine Closet in Camarillo for a cheese plate and glass of wine. All of the wines here are hand chosen and from boutique wineries. You will always get something special and who doesn’t love a cheese plate? If we make it down into the valley, we have to stop at Soy y Luna for some of my favorite Mexican. And then back up here to Leone’s Italian Ices to wash it down. Now off to Zuma beach which is just over the canyon. We could relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the ocean. Then to top off our day, a stop at Little Calf Creamery which has the creamiest ice cream with some crazy flavors! I’d love to visit one of the local botanical gardens too, like Decanso Gardens. Walking amongst the flowers is a great way to spend an afternoon.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to Ecole Chocolat, the online school that taught me how to become a chocolatier. Through this program, my passion for chocolate was ignited and I gained the skills and confidence needed to launch my own chocolate company.
Michael Miller Valorie Darling