The Space Between Stories
– Supporting thriving tribes, one product…one chocolate…at a time. It’s the space between stories, the simultaneously exciting and terrifying start of an adventure. Gustavo is embarking on something new, on something completely different…something delicious. He’s diving headfirst into the world of chocolate. He’s reading and watching documentaries, he’s buying cacao beans and testing equipment, he’s networking and learning all about starting a new business. He’s gone from expert in his field to novice…and he’s loving it.
The First Steps
Happy New Year! January 4th, and Guga (as his nieces and nephews affectionately call him) is getting his hands dirty, literally and figuratively, and we’re giddy! We’re so excited about this new adventure! Have we mentioned that? We’re not ready to actually launch THRIVU in all it’s glory just yet, but we thought you might like to follow along, so before we go too far, a few disclaimers…The website is a work in process, we don’t have our logo sorted yet, there is a lot still TBD but, look at these beauties…
So far we’ve received beans from Dominican Republic (from Zorzal), Ecuador (Hacienda Limon, Mashpi, Los Rios),Guatemala (Cahabon), Colombia (Tumaco), Peru (Piura), Madagascar (Zambirano),and Costa Rica (arriving soon from Gustoso).
The beans from Dominican Republic came first when Guga ordered the bean roaster, and their home farm is an example of the approach to production that THrivu aims to promote. The farm is actually a deforested land reserve, and the cacao trees are being used to regenerate the soil and improve biodiversity. Cacao grows well as an understory tree, with older mature trees above. The hope is that the land will become a haven for a wide range of bird species.
Seriously though…what a thing of beauty. Guga has put together a little lab because…well…he’s a scientist. We put some art on the walls to fancy the place up and remind him why he’s doing this in the first place, but to watch him experimenting is to see the man in his zone. The scientific method is inherent in everything he does…and now, much to the delight of pretty much everyone who’s heard about it, what he does is chocolate.
He roasts, he winnows, he grinds, he mélanges, he tempers…and he delivers chocolate, actual chocolate bars. No joke, Guga delivers actual, beautiful chocolate bars that were beans only hours ago. And he delivers them with the joy of a school boy who has just completed an award winning science project. His eyes twinkle and he grins, gently holding the prize in his hands and sliding it carefully onto your desk. You can see he’s trying to hide the battle he’s having with his feet which refuse to listen and are doing a little dance of joy despite his best efforts.
Then you break off a piece and hear the snap (he’s really proud of that), and you place the chocolate on your tongue and close your eyes and feel it melt, smooth and even, coating your mouth with a rush of flavor. Were you supposed to chew? You forget. Even with your eyes closed, you know he’s watching, probably still dancing, waiting for you to say something. It’s…such a great first try! No really, not just a great first try, it’s really fantastic, it’s like a dream, a really wonderful dream.
Later the chocolate loses it’s snap, or the sugar blooms, or gets grainy, or the bar is so thick you have trouble breaking it at all, but it doesn’t matter. You know it’s just the very first steps of the journey, and you know that you have much to learn, and you remember the dream.
Starting a Business...Really?!
It's been a few months now, and the realities of starting a business can be taxing. It's long hours and mountains of details, it's bureaucracy and practicing your pitch, it's learning all new rules and regulations, it's choosing a logo and colors and trying to build a website...it's exhausting. It's also having your mother-in-law paint "Casita" from Encanto in a little corner or your lab because your daughters want to be involved. It's staying up late to make strawberry white chocolate, in brand new tiny molds at the request of those same daughters. It's hearing the satisfied sighs of your friends and family as they bite into your chocolate, it's your daughter's request to take samples to school to share with her friends because she thinks what you're doing is awesome. It's a lot, but it's what finding your purpose is all about.
Worth the Wait
Ah, spring in Michigan. You have to experience it to know the pain. You've been through a long, cold winter. You've done your best to embrace the cold (and often you've won, because really a fresh blanket of snow rivals the beauty of just about anything you can image), but there comes a time when even those who claim that snow is their element find themselves at a breaking point. And then, just when you think you can't possibly stand it a moment longer...the sun peaks out, and maybe even stays out long enough to melt some snow, and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel! You break out you lighter jackets and tempt fate. And then of course it snows again. In April. It snows again in April, after all the other snow has melted and you've begun spring clean up. The weather is testing us...it's saying, "I know that you know that this coming adventure, called summer, is amazing...but do you really have the patience to wait for it? Are you willing to slog it out just a bit longer, to reap the reward?" It's like that sometimes with opening a new business. We thought we were there...but we keep finding more things to fix, more things to consider, more ways we aren't prepared. We know it will never be perfect...what fun is perfect anyway? We know it will be summer soon...and it will be glorious! You'll be able to get your hands on some chocolate soon...and it too will be glorious!