MAMARONECK, N.Y. -- Diana Lovett isn't a professional baker but she's been able, through much passion and hard work, to create a mini chocolate empire launched from a small side street in Mamaroneck.
Cissé Cocoa Company (pronounced see-say), which she founded in 2012, was created as a way to merge her devotion for sustainable development with her love for desserts.
"I knew I wanted to do something with cocoa powder," said the Larchmont mom of two who admits, when she was younger, she would make hot cocoas topped with whipped cream and candy for her little brother. "I wanted to find a way, through business, to contribute to building better opportunities and better livelihoods."
It helped that Gigi Lee Chang, the founder of Plum Organics Baby Food was her mentor. "She helped me see the opportunity with baking mixes and hot cocoas that were delicious and responsible."
And it helped that she had a lot of experience with social justice having spent her career doing medical humanitarian work with Doctors Without Borders as well as Keep A Child Alive, singer Alicia Keys’ charitable outlet.
Cissé now produces four kinds of hot cocoa (semi-sweet, vanilla bean, hazelnut and dark chocolate with cinnamon), four mixes (chocolate chip brownie mix, cake mix, cookie mix and muffin mix) as well as super thin brownie thins with super food toppings (i.e. double chocolate, cranberry pepita, coconut cashew and cherry and sea salt). The latter launched late last year and has been, she said, a "huge hit."
Lovett also credits part of her success to timing when, in March, 2012, she had a meeting with a regional buyer from Whole Foods and had her prototype products accepted. "That was a huge catalyst for getting the business off the ground," she said. "Now, all of our products include Fair Trade organic cocoa sourced from a cooperative in the Dominican Republic and is fully traceable from bean to box. Additionally, Cissé products contain Fair Trade organic cane sugar, single origin vanilla, and real chocolate chips."
Products are available in leading retailers nationwide such as Wegmans, Whole Foods, Stop & Shop, Amazon and Target.
Go to www.cissecocoa.com / for more information.