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Start Small, Think ... Chocolate!

Jessica Spaulding, Owner of the Harlem Chocolate Factory

At just nine years old, Jessica started making candy at home with her family in Harlem. She always dreamt of running her own artisanal chocolate business that would incorporate the traditional flavors of her neighborhood. Her first attempt, right after college, was unsuccessful, which she attributes to a lack of understanding about marketing and business financial management. Jessica moved on to another job, yet her long-cherished dream of becoming an entrepreneur clung to her. But, as a single mother of two young children, she could not afford the risk of failure this time around and sought guidance from various business organizations.

In May 2015, Jessica received pro bono legal assistance from Start Small Thing Big. She was matched with a team of lawyers who helped her create a business plan and advised her on intellectual property issues. In addition, her attorney suggested that Jessica make chocolate samples for the judges at the New York StartUp! Business Plan Competition. Delicious samples, a robust entrepreneurial spirit, and solid business counsel gave Jessica the edge she needed to win the competition and the $15,000 grand prize! The prize gave her the financial cushion to increase production capacity and grow the Harlem Chocolate Factory into the business that it is today.

Jessica credits Start Small Thing Big for building her confidence. "This is the first place that has said, 'Let's partner with you. We value what you bring to the table," says Jessica. "Being low-income and dealing with a lot of social services, it can be disheartening because people are unkind." Jessica has received an abundance of corporate orders after her chocolates sold out at Start Small's inaugural Pop Up Party last year. Word has continued to spread about her chocolate business through various marketing opportunities provided by Start Small. Jessica Spaulding's dream of owning a successful chocolate business has certainly come true!