Ever wondered how you could support ethical, sustainable businesses? Welcome to a new regular series highlighting products, services and organizations that are ‘doing well by doing good’.
Rescue Chocolate is a B Corp based in Brooklyn which makes artisanal chocolate—from which all profits go to animal rescue organizations.
We caught up with ballet-dancer turned entrepreneur Rescue Chocolate’s founder/owner, Sarah Gross-Feoli to talk about the work they do and how her rescued pit bull Mocha is the inspiration for her company.
- Please give us an overview of your organization?
Rescue Chocolate was founded in January 2010. Our chocolate is handcrafted at a factory in Sunset Park, our administrative office is in Park Slope, and our storage facility is in Greenpoint–we are very proud of our Brooklyn connections! We provide a dozen different flavors of chocolate bars, a couple of mini bar flavors, and several truffle collections. Everything is vegan, fairly traded, organic, kosher, and non-GMO. Plus, we donate all profits to animal rescue organizations. Over the past several years, we have worked with hundreds of nonprofit groups on fundraising for their lifesaving work. Rescue Chocolate is also certified as a B Corporation, which means that our “social goods” claims have been verified by a third party.
2. How did you get started with this idea?
I’ve been interested in animal welfare for many years. I went vegetarian and then vegan while still in junior high. I also volunteered at the local animal shelter in Shreveport, LA where I grew up. My interest in artisan dark chocolate is a bit more recent. When I moved to New York several years ago, I was smitten with all the wonderful, exotic chocolate brands available. I tried to sample them all, and kept a notebook of my favorites. Very briefly I worked at a raw chocolate factory in Queens, where I developed a best-selling flavor. After I adopted a homeless pit bull, I got the idea to put my two passions together: I created a chocolate company that would benefit animals.
3. What is the purpose of this organization?
The purpose is two-fold. We want to supply the consumer with a sublime chocolate experience. Our ingredients are top quality, and our flavor combinations have something for everyone . We also want to raise money and awareness for animal rescue. People need to know that it is really very simple to make a difference and save lives, so our products call attention to various issues such as spaying and neutering, animal fostering, managing feral cat colonies humanely, etc.
4. What are you proudest of?
Personally, I’m proud of the fact that I was able to turn my vision for this company into a reality. I took no business classes in school. In fact, I trained in ballet and had a brief career in professional ballet companies before making this gigantic career swerve. I’m also proud of my wonderful customers who have supported Rescue Chocolate for more than six years. Many of them are in the trenches doing the hands-on dirty work of animal rescue, and it is such an honor to be associated with them.
5. How do you think you are different to your competitors?
There are no other chocolate companies that focus their profits exclusively on domestic animal rescue. Also, Rescue Chocolate is still small enough that we can offer very personalized service. We love meeting the public at chocolate expos and vegetarian food festivals. We try to answer all of our social media posts and contact forms individually. We work with brides and other people celebrating happy occasions on customizing their party favors. And I serve on the board of a local animal rescue group, Foster Dogs, Inc.
- What do your customers/community say about your organization that makes you happy?
People go into raptures over the taste of our products. And some of them actually seem surprised that a chocolate bar that raises money for charity can also taste top-of-the-line. I guess they are used to the plastic -like bars that kids bring home from school, selling them for a dollar apiece for the soccer team or whatever. Quality does count, and I’m always gratified when our customers get that.
7. What is your favourite story about your organization?
My favorite will always be the inspiration for the company: my rescued pit bull, named Mocha. Before I adopted her, I was living with roommates in a brownstone where pets were not encouraged. However, I had grown up with dogs, and I really missed living with them. I was cruising around Facebook one day, and her mug shot stopped me in my tracks. I just had to go and meet her–no strings attached, of course! The next thing I knew, she was riding home with me in a taxi. So I moved to a new apartment, near the green grasses of Prospect Park. And we have never looked back.
8. What difference do you make in people’s lives?
I hope I have encouraged people to look first and foremost at rescues and shelters–not breeders or pet stores–when welcoming a homeless animal into their lives. It is a serious commitment which not everyone can take on. So I let them know about other ways to make a difference: volunteering their time with rescue groups, or donating their dollars. I also emphasize how our products are vegan, which provides a whole spectrum of benefits separate from the humane piece. Choosing vegan food means that you are choosing healthier and more environmentally-friendly food. And vegan chocolate bumps up the feel-good factor even one more notch, because it has been shown to combat depression and bestow an energetic outlook on consumers.
9. Where can people go to support your organization?
Our website (www.RescueChocolate.com) has a listing of retailers that carry Rescue Chocolate, and another listing of the festivals where people can buy in person. A large part of our sales come through online orders, so please order away! Each product webpage also has links to animal rescue organizations that people can click on for more information about saving animals.
10. What are your plans for the future?
I will continue to develop new flavors and products that will entice people to go on supporting Rescue Chocolate and our non-profit beneficiaries. I welcome new rescue groups to get in touch about partnering on fundraising. I’d also love to get into some big national retail chains so that our message and good works can reach even further.
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