The Xocolate Bar : an artist turned chocolatier

Malena Lopez, founder of The Xocolate Bar, on sustaining the The Great Recession, staying in the business for 15 years while keeping their clients and crew happy.
By Neilsberg October 3, 2022
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The Beginning

Q. How did you end up starting a company around chocolates?

ML: My partner and I are both artists. At the time we were working with metal, glass and ceramics. We wanted a new material to get into. We discovered artisan chocolate at a craft fair and were enamoured by the multi-sensory qualities of the material. Being creative people and good cooks, we were able to put together beautiful, delicious chocolates. When we won a gold medal at the San Francisco International Chocolate Salon, we gained the confidence to open our own store.

Q. Early challenges?

ML: Opening the week the stock market crashed in 2008, enduring the Great Recession, not having enough money, not realizing the severity of the seasonal fluctuations in the chocolate business, not realizing the amount of labor and infrastructure it takes to produce and sell a temperature sensitive perishable product year round.


Status Quo

Q. How do you evaluate success as a chocolate maker?

ML: Three things mark our success: that we have managed to stay in business for 15 years; that people think of us fondly; that our crew is happy.

Q. What are some of your top lessons learned about running a business?

ML: That you shouldn’t do everything yourself just because you can. That perseverance is key. That you have to play the long game and plan the year out way in advance.


Work-Life

Q. What is your main role in the everyday operations at The Xocolate Bar?

ML: Admin, graphic design, client relations, and leading the kitchen.

Q. What are your non-work habits that help you with your work-life balance?

ML: Ha! What work-life balance? I have a 5 year old son—he is the only reason I ever leave work at all. I dream of throwing it all away and hunkering down in an art studio for the rest of my life.

Inspiration

Q. Brands you look up to?

ML: Lagusta’s Luscious, Cacao and Cardamom, Melissa Coppel.

Mentor

Q. A piece of advice to the budding chocolatiers in today’s industry?

ML: Making chocolates is the easy part. Making money is the hardest.



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