Rescue Chocolate – Interesting Name. Tell us about yourself and how did you come up with this interesting idea. Is it a catering chocolate business? What exactly?
I’m Sarah Feoli, the founder, and owner of Rescue Chocolate.
The business was founded in January 2010 with a two-fold mission: to create delicious and ethical chocolate, and to donate profits to animal rescue organizations.
At the moment we offer 6 different flavors of dark chocolate bars; we often offer seasonal specialty items and truffles as well.
What’s your own background. Were you always proficient in this business, or did it just strike your mind one fine day?
My background has nothing to do with my profession!
My first love was ballet, and I danced with several professional companies during my college years. But I always had a fondness for animals—I volunteered at the local animal shelter when I was growing up.
My love for chocolate came later after I had moved to New York City where there were all kinds of exotic brands to try.
It wasn’t until after I had adopted my rescued pit bull, Mocha, and I was walking her in the park one day almost 10 years ago, that I got the idea for Rescue Chocolate.
OK. This is interesting. What went into designing the basic product. Can you take us through the actual process?
Fortunately, I didn’t have to start from scratch with my own factory, employees, and recipes.
I found an excellent co-packer which allowed me to work with the executive chef to develop unique bars and packaging.
I knew I wanted the bars to be vegan, organic, fairly traded, and delicious—the factory was able to accommodate me on all points. I can suggest ingredients, and I have the final say on what goes into the Rescue Chocolate wrapper.
Sometimes a flavor will go through several “drafts,” and sometimes I will have trusted friends do the taste tests with me. Once or twice I have asked my online followers for their ideas on flavors they’d like to try.
What organizations do you give to
Here’s a sample:
- Rocky mountain lab rescue
- Mackenzie’s animal sanctuary
- Exeter animal shelter
- Badass brooklyn animal rescue
- Southern states mastiff rescue
- Hern states mastiff rescue
Talk us through the process of launch of your business. How does mailing chocolate happen (or shipping chocolates)?
I started small with just 2 flavors that the co-packer already produced for other brands. I was able to order a small enough run that I could cover the cost with my own savings.
The first charity beneficiary I chose was a coalition of rescuers working in the aftermath of a hurricane in Haiti.
In subsequent months I chose different non-profits throughout the United States, which turned out to be a great marketing vehicle.
It meant that each month there was a whole new pool of potential customers who would hear about the company, and who would be motivated to buy because their favorite organization would be receiving my profits (plus these would be organic chocolate gifts).
Mailing chocolates is so much fun when there is their favorite organization receiving part of proceeds.
Initially, I sold exclusively from my own website. Gradually I developed relationships with retailers who now purchase wholesale from me.
What are some of the organizations that your company gives to?
Here are few –
- Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue
- Mackenzie’s Animal Sanctuary
- Exeter Animal Shelter
- Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue
- Southern States Mastiff Rescue
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
My sales are evenly split between repeat and new customers.
Social media play a big part in acquisition.
I also reach out to specialty markets such as vegan groceries, pet stores, veterinarian offices, and natural markets.
I’m a demon about gathering email addresses and sending out an e-newsletter once or twice per month.
For retention, I rely on the high quality of the product, the excellent reputations of my rescue partners, and responsive customer service (responding in 24 hours or less).
What is the current situation? How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
At the moment I am not in a position to introduce new flavors or to expand the business.
I recently gave birth to my first child, which is taking up a good chunk of my time. After a year or so, I may be interested in ramping up once again.
As a woman founder, do you see this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
Because Rescue Chocolate has a “social good” component, the company is not only financially uplifting but morally uplifting as well.
I like knowing that I am doing my small part to eradicate the problem of pet overpopulation.
The business model also turns out to be a perfect one for a woman who wants to be home with her children. I have a storage and shipping area nearby. So it’s super easy for me to integrate the business with other aspects of my life.
What tools or services did you use?
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
Other great podcasts for inspiration are
I don’t only go for business resources, though, because being well-rounded is ultimately very helpful in business.
Novels can give me the best insights into the psychology of real-life customers, as can storytelling podcasts like The Moth or Story Collider.
I also focus on quality downtime, so I meditate on my own or with the Insight Timer (app).
Many times women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
Women have a unique perspective that can be helpful in business.
With Rescue Chocolate specifically, I cater to a belief that many women have: high quality chocolate is an important component to a well-rounded diet.
By emphasizing animal rescue, I also tap into women’s natural compassion for our companion animals. Of course, men can be very compassionate too, but in my mind, women are the leaders.
Looking to kick start your own venture?
Hi ! This is Misha
I interview women founders building profitable businesses
My idea is for other women to get inspired by these actionable tell all stories and start their own profitable enterprises.
I am hugely inspired by inspirational interview series starters like IndieHackers, StarterStory by Pat Walls, Failory, SpaceBandits and have put significant efforts in reaching out to women founders in order to get started.