From Mattresses to Chocolates
Andrea and Jorge de Kauam had been running a mattress and furniture company in their home country of Venezuela when they decided to make a life-changing decision. While their business provided them with a reliable income, Jorge’s primary passion in life had always been cooking. His love for food developed early, as he grew up watching his Portuguese and Spanish family cook. Jorge had also studied culinary arts in schools internationally, yet with their current business taking up most of their time, it had been difficult to pursue his dreams. In addition, while they loved Venezuela, the political and economic climate made it hard for their other dream of starting a family. They knew they needed to move somewhere with opportunities, where achieving dreams would not only be possible for them, but for their future children. So in 2013, they left their home and their business to begin a new life in Miami.
Shortly after moving to Miami, Andrea and Jorge set out to start their new business, Mokau Chocolates. The name was inspired by Jorge’s family names: Moreno and Kauam. Initially, Andrea and Jorge would make the chocolates in their home and circle the neighborhood, selling boxes door to door. The positive response was immediate. “The people loved us. They came to my home and asked if I had more. That was amazing.” They then moved to a commercial kitchen, and their business continued to grow rapidly.
An Overflowing Passion
While Jorge bakes, Andrea uses her background in accounting to manage the operations side of their business. “One of my favorite things about running a business is that Jorge and I are both passionate about what we’re doing,” Andrea explained. Andrea and Jorge were referred to Accion from Bank of America, and with the SBA 7a Community Advantage Loan that they were approved for, they were able to pay for new equipment that will enable them to expand their business and fulfill their inspirational culinary dreams.
With three employees and products in 60 retail locations nationwide, Mokau Chocolates is thriving. Yet Andrea and Jorge are already thinking ahead, with plans to build a retail shop offering chocolates and coffee. Once they finish remodeling their factory, they will also host tours and classes. “Jorge loves to teach and it would be great to share his passion with others.”
After a long journey full of transitions, the couple holds only positive sentiments for their new life and wants to inspire others to follow in their footsteps of defying the odds. “At first, it’s scary because there are a lot of competitors. Some days, we still wonder if we’re going to make it,” Andrea admitted. “But if you do what you love, if you’re disciplined and focused on what you want, you can achieve what you want. It’s impossible not to.”