<em>Experience</em >: CHOCOLATE Logo

Love Your Life: Suzanne Oakley

Positive Thinking
New York, New York -- May/June 2006

by Rosemary Marbach
reprinted with permission from Positive Thinking

It was New Year's Eve 2004. Suzanne Oakley, an executive in the high-tech sector, made a resolution: "By the same time next year I'll have my own business." Her plan was to do something refreshing. Something fun.

Something that would bring her back to her first love-chocolate. "I remember taking regular trips to the candy store with my dad," Suzanne says. "I'd head straight for the chocolate. I always had a taste for the pure stuff, even when I was really little."

In January 2005, Suzanne left her corporate job and got to work on her resolution. For several months she lived and breathed (and ate!) chocolate-researching the different types of cocoa beans, learning the production processes for the various kinds of chocolate, going to conferences and asking people for feedback on her ideas. Suzanne named her company Experience: CHOCOLATE.

Last fall she hosted her first chocolate tasting, and business has been booming ever since. "There's still uncertainty every day," she says, then laughs, adding, "It's been so much fun. I'm just happy to share really good chocolate with people who love it as much as I do."

A native of Pleasantville New York, Oakley said she remembered her mother, a chocolate lover, always had some kind of chocolate around to munch on as a kid, and taking regular trips to the neighborhood store for candy with her father where she headed straight for the chocolate section. "I always went for the pure stuff, even when I was little chocolate was a big part of me."

They do indeed, if the guests at a recent tasting in Boston's historic Beacon Hill are any indication. They bite into the samples of pure chocolate Suzanne gives them and they don't have to say a word. You can tell by their expressions what they're thinking: This is bliss! Suzanne couldn't agree more.

Suzanne's tips on how to do what you love and love what you do:

  • Follow your passion. Some people have said they can tell how much I love chocolate from the way I talk about it. Passion is a great motivator, and people will see that in your work.
  • Find support. I was lucky to have the support of my family. It's essential to have someone who believes in what you do.
  • Never stop learning. What you pick up now can help you in the next chapter of your life, no matter what endeavor you choose.


Chocolate pieces