Small Business Q&A: Chocolate Jewels Candy
Her mother's recipe fuels a specialty business for Northeast Cobb native Julie Ann Travis.
Walk into Chocolate Jewels Candy on Sandy Plains Road and get a serotonin uplift just by looking at the 28 feet of candy cases filled with truffles, caramel-oozing fudge and chocolate-covered everything.
A purchase of chocolate can be a loving expression of the golden rule: Treat yourself as you would have others treat you.
You get $3 and coins back from a $10 bill when buying two Julia's Signature pecan toffee bars and two chocolate-covered orange rinds. The bars are gorgeous with an edible gold drizzle on top of smooth chocolate layers separated by buttery crunch middles. The overall flavor is yummy and memorable.
Julia Ann Travis owns and operates the 1,400-square-foot store of chocolate bliss. Travis is also hands-on in the kitchen, where 80 percent of the 100-plus types of candy in the store are made fresh.
Travis started with the classics, including her mother's toffee recipe, and has added customer requests and variations of existing candy as the store has matured.
A candymaker's job goes home with her.
"I literally dreamt my praline recipe," Travis says. She also says that sourcing the pecans for the Southern Belle Pralines from middle Georgia is important in keeping her recipe authentically Georgia.
The store name is a play off "Jule's chocolates." Travis thought that using the "jewels" spelling would be easier for Internet marketing. The store's web address has been shortened since the initial domain name to www.chocolatejewels.com.
Last year was the first that web orders came from untraceable sources, Travis said. Before 2011, e-orders were from people who were either in the store or knew someone who had been in the store.
Travis employs three to four part-time workers year-round and up to 18 seasonal staffers.
Q. What's the best thing about your job?
A. I get to feel like a kid in a candy store.
Q. What is the best thing about East Cobb?
A. It's a great community. I graduated in the Lassiter Class of 2000. A lot of people support me because they know that I'm a local.
Q. Why did you pick this kind of business?
A. It started when I was a kid and helped my mother make toffee for our family's holiday open houses. The homemade Heath bars were always a hit. I started making other candy, fudge and caramels that I covered with chocolate and added nuts and made into homemade turtles.
Q. What are some of the services you offer that people may not know about?
A. I have hundreds of different molds for shaped chocolates, and I can custom-order molds, too.
Q. When did you start your business?
A. 2005. I was a couple of days short of my 23rd birthday when I signed the lease. In the seven years that I've had this store, no two years have been the same. I've fallen in love, gotten married and now have a 2-year-old son.
Q. How did your business get started?
A. It started with my mom's toffee recipe; a family friend said that I could put bars in a bag and sell them. I was about 14 or 15 and started making gift bags of toffee for neighbors' business gifts. When I was in college, I worked in a candy store in Atlanta. I wanted to see if I would like making candy full time and not just for holidays. I did, and got together a list of suppliers and got ready to open my own store.
Q. Do you have advice for anyone who'd like to start a small business in this area?
A. Do your research. Try it out first, maybe work part time for someone else to make sure that it's something that you like. If anyone is interested in learning about the candy business, come in; I'd be happy to talk with you.
Q. Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know?
A. I'll give everyone who comes in and mentions this story a discount—$2 off of an order of $10 or more.