Harlem Chocolate Factory
“It may have been the most difficult time of my life. That is how Harlem Chocolate Factory really started,” shared Jessica Spaulding, owner of Harlem Chocolate Factory. “I was on an air bed, with my two year old and five month old. I went to the welfare office, and they looked at me and told me I didn’t qualify.”
That’s when Jessica came to Accion with an idea. She wanted to tell the stories of Harlem, her home, through chocolate. As a child, Jessica loved making candy. The trade shows she attended growing up exposed her to flavors from all over the world. After researching the chocolate industry and finding only two African-American owned chocolate companies in the U.S., Jessica decided that the African American perspective was missing. “It was so hard for me to do the loan application. My Loan consultant’s reassurance was so significant. He fought for every nickel for me. I was genuinely cared about.”
It was so hard for me to do the loan application. My Loan consultant’s reassurance was so significant. He fought for every nickel for me. I was genuinely cared about.
Jessica received a small loan to purchase equipment and chocolate supplies and launched Harlem Chocolate Factory. She then entered the New York Startup Business Competition winning the $15,000 award for her business. Jessica also participated in Accion’s mentorship program Brewing The American Dream, designed specifically for food and beverage entrepreneurs. “Someone from the sales team mentored me through the process. It was great, and from there we were invited to do a media gift box for 250 boxes. We couldn’t turn it down.”
Last winter, Accion paired Jessica with a consulting team who helped her complete a business plan for a second, larger loan to open a storefront. Despite not having a track record of sales or profit for the new location, Accion’s underwriting coupled with Jessica’s strong business plan, payment record and character, ensured she received the additional capital. “There are so many people in Accion I feel so supported by. To have contact with people who are supportive is really profound to the business owner.”
In May, Jessica received the Award for Adaptability at Accion’s 25th Annual Access to Opportunity Luncheon. Upon receiving it she said, “I’m proud to say that we are just a few short months away from opening our first production and retail space in upper Manhattan. Harlem Chocolate Factory and I may continue to face obstacles, but adaptation is my super power.”