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City confectioner sells itself in contest entry

VERGENNES — Vergennes business Daily Chocolate is one of about 1,000 finalists for 10 annual Martha Stewart American Made Awards. Winners of $10,000 will be announced on Oct. 17, and they will be honored in New York City on Nov. 7 and 8.
One winner — the “Audience Choice Winner” — will be chosen by an online vote that began this past Monday. Daily Chocolate co-owner Jennifer Roberts said she will post a link on the Vergennes company’s website — www.dailychocolate.net — that will lead to the vote.
Daily Chocolate was nominated by Roberts’ brother, Evan Roberts. Both worked together to answer a series of contest questions. Contest judges evaluated their responses and determined their answers qualified the business as a finalist.
Those responses were, in part:
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS:
We all work hard to create luscious and delightful chocolates every day. Our chocolates are all made in small batches, hand cut and dipped. Some of our most popular flavors are our Black Rum Caramels, the Peppermint Patties and our Lemon Lavender white chocolate bark … We are changing every day the way we do things in an effort to make less waste. Jen’s chickens get all food scraps from the shop and most of our boxes are made from recycled materials.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR WORKSPACE, SHOP, OR STUDIO:
When you enter the shop you have to walk down stairs from the main street above and you enter into a different world. Your nose is filled with the amazing smell of fresh chocolate, caramel, and toffee. You are surrounded by an old world feel with the stone and brick walls as well as the large wooden beams over head. The confections are all made in an open kitchen on granite topped tables for all to watch. All the treats are displayed in a large antique glass and brass case.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
(Jen) keeps coming up with new inventions that surprise your taste buds. Whenever someone new tastes our chocolate, they become an instant fan, say it is the best chocolate they have ever had and “I have never had anything like this before.” Bringing joy to so many taste buds and people while doing what she loves, is what makes her job so fun.
WHAT MAKES YOUR BUSINESS STAND OUT?
We use the best ingredients in our chocolate confections and we make it all by hand. Our bark, as sold in other stores, is packaged very distinctly. With transparent wrapping, a bright label and hand broken bars it doesn’t look like anything else on the shelf. Once people try it, they remember it because it is the most unique and best tasting chocolate around.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AN ASPIRING CREATIVE ENTREPRENEUR?
I would tell aspiring creative entrepreneurs to first create a great product that they believe in, that they enjoy making. Then figure out how to market and sell it. If you are not making something you believe in and enjoy it will be apparent in your product and your ability to sell it.
WHAT DOES AMERICAN MADE MEAN TO YOU?
American made means you use the products that are located all around us. We go a step farther and try to use as many Vermont made ingredients as possible.
Contest criteria include originality, innovation, creativity, customer value, quality of materials, customer satisfaction, craftsmanship, unique design, visual appeal, logo quality, use of local components and local community engagement.
According to the contest information, “American Made spotlights the maker, supports the local, and celebrates the handmade. The program is made up of people and communities that have turned their passion for quality craftsmanship and well-designed goods into a way of life.”

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