The Bestie Boxes we’re featuring this month are all about celebrating the strength of the relationships we have with the women in our lives. What you might not know is that the actual contents of the boxes reflect this, too - Jacqueline Jacek of JACEK Chocolate Couture and Amy Beaith-Johnson of PLANTiful are two Edmonton-based entrepreneurs we’ve admired for a long time, and who help make up a local community of extraordinary women-owned businesses.
It’s taken a village to get Flatter:Me off the ground, and we were curious about the friendships that might have helped our Bestie Box collaborators’ businesses launch and thrive. First up? JACEK Chocolate Couture, founded in 2009 in the basement of owner Jacqueline’s home and since expanding to brick-and-mortar shops in Sherwood Park, Edmonton, and Canmore, in addition to a thriving e-commerce operation. Inspired by couture fashion, JACEK introduces collections of chocolates seasonally - and for special occasions (if anyone wants to send a Valentine’s gift to FMB HQ, please send a box of Champagne & Strawberry Truffles).
On Friday, FMB’s Lindsey and Claire braved the cold to visit JACEK’s factory and original storefront in the Edmonton suburb of Sherwood Park. Through ladylike mouthfuls of chocolate samples, we asked Jacquie: Who are the besties she leans for support as JACEK grows?
Jacqueline: There are a lot of women who I have looked up to - mentors from afar who I’ve watched. These women are strong, but vulnerable at the same time, which I think there is a lot to be said about. Someone who I have admired is Angela Santiago from The Little Potato Company. I think she’s done a lot of really cool things and represents the kind of person I want to be. Also, JACEK is a team of females and we work really well together. We have one guy and he does very well with 14 other women - but having hired women has been very good for my business. We just “get” each other. There have been a lot of friendships that form here, and as life happens to us all, we do a good job of understanding and supporting one another.
Claire: I remember you telling me that you moved a lot when you were younger. [Jacqueline was born in Canada, but grew up in New Zealand.] How has that affected the way you’ve started and kept friendships?
Jacqueline: My two best friends are in London and Germany. They’re friends from university. I don’t feel like geography has separated us. Sure, we don’t go for wine as often and we only see each other once every two years... but when we do see each other, it’s intense, and it’s awesome. For keeping in touch, it’s the little notes through social media and technology that help keep the friendship alive.
Claire: For me, it was so fun living in China but so hard moving away. These people who know me so intimately now are on the other side of the world. But then I realize that they’re just a FaceTime or text away. The time difference actually makes it fun, because I wake up to their hellos and vice versa.
Jacqueline: Yes! And I think the biggest thing is that nobody apologies for not communicating over a certain amount of time. If we go six months without talking, it’s okay. That’s when you know it’s a true friendship. We know we’re thinking of each other; there is love from afar. If something happens where you need to talk, we’re there for each other - even if it’s the wrong time of the day.
Lindsey: How do you manage the balance of being fully present at JACEK and in your friendships?
Jacqueline: Balance is a funny thing - everyone’s is defined differently. I have a lifestyle that I’ve chosen, and I really embrace being active in the present rather than trying to schedule things in. In my business, there are seasons that are going to be crazy at work. I’m going to be working long hours, and I’m going to be totally focused on that. But there are also seasons - like the summer - where work isn’t going to be as demanding, and that’s the time when I’m going to dive in deep with my friendships.
If you strive for an idea of balance, you’re inevitably going to fail. The friends I have in my life understand the nature of my work, and I understand the nature of theirs - we’re all busy. But if your friends want to see you fulfill your dreams, they will be there. These are the people who will be cheerleading for you.
Visit JACEK Chocolate Couture's online shop here! They offer pick-up orders for Valentine’s - and year-round - at their retail locations. We highly recommend indulging in their sweet treats on all occasions.
Bestie Boxes include a Flatter:Me Belt, a JACEK Chocolate Couture bar, and a PLANTiful lip butter. They start at $39 including shipping and are available all February long. Next time on the blog? A visit with Amy Beaith-Johnson, owner of PLANTiful.