Written by The Business Journal Staff
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Partner: Full Circle Brewery
Education: I graduated with a BSBA (Bachelor of Science in Business Administration) in business management from Missouri Western State University’s (MWSU) Craig School of Business.
Family: As a transplant to Fresno, I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri. I have twin younger brothers.My mother and brothers still reside there.I recently married my husband, Jorge, and we have three fur babies
WHAT I DO: Entrepreneur and multi-unit business owner. I own Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory at the Fashion Fair Mall and River Park Shopping Center; and am a partner in Full Circle Brewery. I moved to Fresno to open my first business, Rocky Mountain in Fashion Fair. Through networking I partnered with the current owners of Full Circle Brewery and became an investor. And now through good fortune, I was able to open a second Rocky Mountain in The Shops at River Park. My day to day consists of all operations of both stores, and ensuring that Fresno is getting the best quality chocolate and service from my locations.
Tell us a little about your career to your current venture.
Most of my career has been in financial services – everything from assistant customer service manager at a bank to fund accountant for a financial services company.My entrepreneurial journey began in 2013 when I won an entrepreneurial competition through my university and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. All of past experiences and skills combined are all utilized with my current business ventures!
Can you tell us a little about how you came to acquire your store?
My alma mater, Craig School of Business at MWSU partnered with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to offer a unique opportunity to graduating seniors.I prepared a comprehensive business plan and presented it to a panel of judges. To my surprise, I won!After winning the competition, I had access to financing and support to purchase my first Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory here in Fresno.
What’s new with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory?
We have a brand new location in the River Park Shopping Center! In December, we opened our second location in the shops at River Park.We focus on connecting with the community through an exceptional in-store experience providing gourmet chocolates and hand-made apples, fudge and dipped fruit. Our second location in River Park is twice the size of the first one in Fashion Fair. This will allow us to expand our partnerships with local organizations such as fundraisers with area schools and corporate gifting with more Central Valley businesses. Connecting our business to the local community, via fundraisers and support, has become one of our main goals of 2019.
Tell us about your involvement with Full Circle Brewing Co.
I am one of the ten original investors of Full Circle Brewing Co. It’s awesome to be a part of and experience the growth of a franchise with Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory as well as a startup with Full Circle Brewing Co. It is kind of fun to compare the similarities and differences of the two and be able to learn and grow from both. The best of both worlds – chocolate and beer!
What’s the biggest challenge you face running your business?
I would say balancing quality of our product and growth would be the biggest challenge I face. The level of personal engagement and attention to detail are qualities I use to make these businesses successful. Like many other small business owners in the community, I find myself tied to these habits. In order to grow in business and as a person, I have to effectively manage and mentor my team.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity in business?
My biggest opportunity in business is to continue to grow as an entrepreneur. Fresno is an interesting city, where there are so many opportunities right now. I have experience running a business in Downtown, Fashion Fair, and now North Fresno. I feel like I have a strong grasp of the culture of the communities we serve and I’m excited to what future endeavors me and my husband dive into. There are a lot of smart and driven people in Fresno, around my age, that are passionate about the same things I am. It’s an exciting time for my family, and for Fresno.
What does an average workday look like for you?
One of the best things about being a business owner is that every day is different. Every day is a new day with new challenges and new obstacles. But two things are always certain and consistent, support from my husband and a nice chocolate snack!
What was the best advice you ever received?
Know your strengths and weaknesses. Whatever your weaknesses are outsource them, so you can focus on what your good at!
You’ve been in Fresno for several years now. What are your impressions of the community?
Fresno is awesome. It has that hometown feel while being the 5th largest city in California. I don’t think Fresno gets the credit it deserves – a lot of hidden gems! I cannot help but appreciate it, especially for the way fellow business owners and friends have accepted me and helped my businesses continue to grow. Being in the middle of California is definitely a plus too.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
I got my very first job when I was 15.I worked at a senior assisted living facility called Foxwood Springs. This is where I learned the importance of customer service. I use that experience daily in my stores.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy spending time outdoors with my family and friends, watching my favorite sports teams and exploring new experiences.