A Conversation with Divine Chocolate

How did Divine Chocolate get its start, and what makes your way of doing business unique?

Divine Chocolate started with a group of Ghanaian farmers who wanted to create a fair and efficient way of selling cocoa beans that would give back to their community. This lead to the creation of Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative made up of cocoa farmers in Ghana. Kuapa Kokoo had four main goals in mind at its foundation: bringing a farmer-owned company to market, net gains going back to the farmers, payment for cocoa beans would be in cash and not credit, and having added premiums which would go into social programs. These four goals continue to this day, and Kuapa has also been a leading example in the way it focuses on the inclusion of women at all levels of leadership. Today, the co-op is led by President Fatima Ali, and owns 44% of Divine Chocolate. Two members of Kuapa Kokoo are also on the Divine Chocolate Board of Directors.

Tell us a story about a particular farming family and how Divine has impacted their lives.

My favorite is about Margret Fianko. She is a mother of three and shares a 7 acre farm with her husband where the majority of land is dedicated to cocoa production and has been a member of Kuapa for 13 years. She never went to school but is now a participant in a Divine-funded numeracy and literacy program managed by Kuapa Kokoo and facilitated by Ghana’s Non Formal Education Division. Before the course she said, “I couldn’t read and couldn’t write, but now I can recognize letters and read." She has put her newly learned numeracy skills to good use to record the expenditure and income of the market stall she runs. Margret was proud to report back to us that she now knows how much money she makes and only spends the profit. Her ambition is to one day be elected as a Kuapa recorder—someone responsible for buying cocoa from other Kuapa members—and is making good progress towards learning the skills necessary for this position.

What do you love most about your job?

I love heading into work every day knowing that I am making a positive difference in people’s lives. When I hear stories like Margret’s, it just makes every long day at work worth it.  Having my workplace and I align on the same values - wage justice, women’s rights, and education for all to name a few - makes me even more proud to say I work for Divine.  

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The best tips I've heard are from the Divine Chocolate CEO, Sophi Tranchell. Forbes did a fantastic interview with her called 7 Tips for Success for Social Entrepreneurs 

What's the next big thing for Divine Chocolate?

Divine Chocolate was recently certified as a B Corporation, and we're excited to meet others in this fantastic network of companies who use business as a force for good!

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A Conversation with Jennifer Botto of Thorn & Bloom Perfume

Jennifer Botto is the founder and perfumer for Thorn & Bloom Perfume. She has received a diploma from Anya McCoy's Natural Perfumery Course at the Natural Perfumery Institute, and she is a Certified Natural Perfumer with the Natural Perfumers Guild. Learn more at and find them in our Valentine's Day Gift Box

How did Thorn & Bloom get its start, and what makes your way of doing business unique? 

I grew up on a farm in upstate New York. Working with botanical aromatics is a way for me to connect with nature, something that I’ve been missing since moving to Boston. I also grew up with many allergies and chemical sensitivities. When I made the switch to all-natural products, I was underwhelmed with the selection of natural perfume. I mostly found aromatherapy-style blends that lacked the complexity and sophistication I desired. Thorn & Bloom was meant to bridge the gap between these aromatherapy-style natural perfumes and synthetic luxury perfumes.

Any funny stories to share from your early startup days? 

During my first year open, I attended a niche perfume awards ceremony as a finalist, where an ex-NY Times perfume critic publicly derided natural perfume! I'm so glad that what I've seen in the marketplace is a growing demand for natural perfume, which has been greeted with open arms by the wellness community. 

What's one fun fact about you personally that we might not know?

I'm an absolute perfectionist, sometimes to a fault! I've delayed product launches until every last detail is absolutely perfect. I like to think it as part of the 'slow' movement; slow food, slow living, slow perfume. Attention to the meticulous artistry is especially important to me and I hope it can be measured in the quality of my work.

What's your personal self care routine?

I'm pretty minimalistic when it comes to my routine, focusing on drinking plenty of water and getting enough sleep. Of course, I stick with natural brands as much as I possibly can. Coconut Oil is a staple for so many different uses, from oil pulling to make-up removal. I love Jane Iredale's In Touch Cream Blush for a quick sweep of brightening color on busy days, True Moringa's Ultra Light Whipped Body Butter for head-to-toe moisturizing, and Organic Bath's Java Jolt Organic Sugar & Coffee Scrub for exfoliation and renewal. 

What inspires your perfumes?

I often rely on memory and nostalgia when formulating. For instance, Stranger in the Cherry Grove is an homage to my father's cherry pipe tobacco that I remember so vividly from childhood. Scent can be such a powerful trigger; it's very satisfying to recreate those memories in the form of an ether, almost like bottling a memory. 

What do you love most about your job? 

I love spending countless hours in front of my 'perfume organ', which is a carefully organized selection of hundreds of rare aromatics. I can get totally lost in blending, forgetting to take a break or eat when inspiration hits!

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Patience and perseverance are key, as is taking one day at a time. Sometime entrepreneurs are so eager to make those large strides that they don't acknowledge the small everyday victories.  

What's the next big thing for Thorn & Bloom?

I'd love to expand the line into body care and candles. Scented bath salts will be available in the summer of 2017 with scented body oils to follow. I'm currently getting my certification in aromatherapy and will use this knowledge to formulate more therapeutic blends for the body, mind and soul.

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Skin type: Combination

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