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A Chocolate Making Family’s Journey of Entrepreneurism

One of the best parts of the entrepreneurial journey is the research and learning (let’s call it discovery) that’s done along the way.  It seems as though there is something new around every corner and if you open your mind to it, it’ll stretch you like never before.  For example, I was recently reading the blog of an aspiring entrepreneur and he recommended three or four podcasts he listens to on a weekly basis for the purpose of being inspired.  I decided to take a shot with one of them and can honestly say it’s changing my life.

The podcast is called From Scratch and is hosted by NPR.  According to their website:

From Scratch reviews the entrepreneurial life with leading pioneers from the business world, the social sector, entertainment, and the arts. From Scratch personalizes the lives of entrepreneurs by providing listeners with a candid, first-hand view of the launching process.

I listened to 4 or 5 podcasts the first week I found it and 7 or 8 the following week.  My favorite one thus far is about two brothers from Iowa, Rick and Michael Mast, who are chocolate makers living in Brooklyn, NY.  The name of their company is Mast Brothers Chocolate and the unique aspect of their business is they make their chocolate ‘from scratch’ with ingredients brought in from around the world.  What’s even more interesting to me, however, is their approach to the journey.  They talk about it being an adventure and the importance of having a childlike curiosity.  Also, not only do they create the chocolate from scratch but they have to “make” their own processing equipment as well.  (Although it’s 19 minutes in length, I encourage you to listen to the podcast which can be found at the bottom of this page.  It can also be found on iTunes under From Scratch.)

I thought it would be tough for Owen and Malia to sit still for 19 minutes so we opted to view a short video from their website (link at the bottom of this page).  I was interested to see their response since they’re big fans of anything sweet.  After sitting quietly for most of the video, I could sense their wheels were starting to churn near the end.  They each had one question during the video:

Malia: Around 6 minutes, Malia asked, “can we try some daddy?”

Owen: Around 8 minutes, Owen asked, “can we make some daddy?”

As I mentioned in the introduction to our journey, I ‘m not sure where this journey will take us, but we’re certainly enjoying it so far.  Personally, I’ve been excited about the kid’s response to trying some new things.  I’m also very grateful for the comments on the blog and look forward to the ongoing dialogue.

Finally, I found out this week that our subdivision is hosting its annual thrift sale in two weeks.  I’m wondering just how difficult this chocolate making thing can be.  Do you think we should give it a try?

Podcast: Click (link is at the bottom, 19 minutes)

Video: Click – (top video, 8 minutes, 48 seconds)

Next: The Future of Shafer…Power!

Previous: Reflections of a 40-Something Dad

Disclaimer: I had never heard of Rick or Michael Mast until listening to the NPR Podcast during the last week in April, 2012.  I did, however, place an order for 5 bars immediately after listening to it.  I also sent them a congratulatory email and their PR representative responded the same day.  Check them out at and tell ‘em Shafer…Power! sent you their way.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Maria #

    Must have Mast Brothers Chocolate!!! I say go for it (trying to make chocolate). Maria

    May 7, 2012
  2. sheryl #

    Paul, do you think they were born entrepreneurs or is entrepreneurism something that can be learned?

    May 7, 2012
    • I don’t believe that anyone is “born” to do something, however, I do believe they have several very important traits which are required to be successful as entrepreneurs. One of them is the childlike curiosity they mention in the video and the others that come to mind are their resourcefulness and their ability to overcome (hey, they didn’t shave until they sold 1,000 chocolate bars).

      May 7, 2012
  3. Wanda S. #

    I think you should try making the chocolate. I want to hear a follow up to this adventure.

    May 7, 2012
  4. Jen #

    Cute idea. I like that you have your kids involved.

    May 7, 2012
  5. Thomas #

    Well done! Any chance they sell it at Whole Foods?

    May 7, 2012
    • Hi Thomas, I did a little research and it appears their chocolate may only be available locally at the Whole Foods in NYC. I’m assuming that would change if it becomes real popular and/or Mast Brothers can produce enough to fulfill their orders. What a great problem to have, right?

      May 9, 2012
  6. I vote “go for it!” Of course, you can always just melt chocolate chips (or candy melts) and place them in cute candy molds from Joanne’s. We’ve done that, and it’s pretty easy. I’m sure the ingredients aren’t nearly as good as those of The Mast Brothers though.

    May 9, 2012
  7. Sandy #

    Paul, What a great time and learning experience for Owen and Malia. I think letting them explore like this at this age is very important for developing creativity and maybe putting the idea in their heads that yes, they can become entrepreneuers. Of course to them that probably means working with dad, spending time with dad, having fun and also selling what they just made! As our son was growing up, I always let him be as creative as he wanted to be, and also let him explore being his own entrepreneuer. Because of this, as he nears the age of thirty, he has a successful job and is still thinking of how he can be his own entrepreneur. When will you be offering the chocolate bars for on-line ordering?

    May 25, 2012
    • What a great story about your son. I’d love to meet him some day! Tell him to drop by the blog some day and post a comment so I know who he is. We’ll make sure to let you know once the chocolate bars can be purchased online. Is there a number of bars you hand in mind for your first order? 🙂

      May 25, 2012

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