Monday, May 7, 2012

Spotlight on Mommy -- Donna Richardson of Hot Chocolate Bliss

A few months back, I shared my Feature Friday review on the company, Hot Chocolate Bliss.  Click here if you missed it.  Today, I wanted to share my Spotlight on Mommy interview with the owner of this great shop, which you guessed it, sells hot chocolate.  As a chocolate lover, I was in heaven when I stumbled across Donna's site over the holidays.  What I love is that she offers hot chocolate products year round, so whenever I have a craving for hot chocolate, I know where I can go to get my fix.

Please enjoy my interview with Donna, and if you love hot chocolate as much as I do, you must check out her site, where she offers a variety of flavors and brands.  And, just for Inspired by Savannah readers, Donna is offering a Free Hot Chocolate Bliss mug with any order.  To get this special offer, please use code  "BLISS" at checkout. Also, if you spend $30 or more, make sure you use code "10BLISS" at checkout to receive $10 off your order.  How great is that!? Happy shopping!

Name: Donna Richardson
Company Name/Product/Service: Hot Chocolate Bliss
Company Location: Wyoming, Michigan
Twitter Handle: @HotChocolatBlis
Age of Company: Started  in 2011
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "If you can't feed a hundred people, just feed one."  Mother Theresa; “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”-- Winston Churchill; "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Phillipians 4:13; "Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved." Helen Adams Keller; "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." - Eleanor Roosevelt'This Is My Story,' 1937 
Favorite Book:  Jane Eyre (she held true to herself and what she knew to be right)

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  How many children do you have?  What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc.
I grew up in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, just outside Atlanta.  I am a graduate of Brigham Young University (Provo, Utah) where I met my wonderful husband, Ben. I am the mother of three children, age 19, 16 and 13.  My son, went into Basic Training for the Army on March 27th, 2011 and his job is going to be healthcare specialist. I am very proud of him for wanting to serve our country.  My daughters are both hard working students and are very sweet.  Our family is far from perfect, but I feel very blessed with the family God gave me.
I like to read, swim, hike, cross country ski and watch movies with my family.  I like to walk my dog, an Alaskan Malamute named Siku.  (He is a big sweetie.)  I volunteer with the youth group at my church and enjoy that very much.
Briefly explain your business.  How did it come about? 

I wanted to start a business and was exploring ideas.  The first ideas I had didn't look good after market research and I was getting discouraged about finding a good idea.  I asked my daughter if she had any ideas.  She happened to be drinking hot chocolate at the time and suggested that.  I love hot chocolate and I love how it can bring people together.  I found out many people are searching for hot chocolate online and I found out there are so many flavors of hot chocolate that are delicious and fun to try.  Hot Chocolate Bliss was born.

What is a typical work day like? 

After getting the kids off to school, I check the website for any new orders and make sure they get shipped out.  I answer emails, post on Twitter and Facebook, write blog posts, write articles about hot chocolate, post my website to directories so people can find me, search for new flavors of hot chocolate, get paper work ready to send to my accountant, order inventory if needed, breathe, eat lunch, do more of the same, then my kids usually come home.  I try not to do any more work in my office when they are home.  If I have time to myself in the evening, I will do a little more work then.  I work from home so I can be there for my kids, so I try to make sure they are the priority.  It was hard to do that when I was first starting, but things are getting easier now.

What has been a struggle while starting up your company?  

One of the biggest struggles for me was learning to shut the door on my office so I have a balanced life. Working from home presents special challenges since the office is always there. I try to think about it like a job where I have an office I go to.  I do the most important things first, work hard for the time allotted to work, then I let it go.  Most things can wait until tomorrow.  Family comes first!

What did you do in your past work life?

I graduated in Health Promotion and then I managed the Health Enhancement Program at the dorms in college.  I was a stay at home Mom for 17 years, a substitute teacher for one year, and now I am a business owner.

What have been some of your major successes?
Creating the website was really fun and rewarding for me.  A headache sometimes also, but exciting when it launched, knowing that I was the major contributor to it's development. We also had a great year for holiday sales.  It was fun to see how much people enjoy our hot chocolate  

What have been some of your major challenges?
Finding errors or links that weren't working on the website.  Sometimes the problem went on for weeks before it was brought to my attention.  I have learned that I need go on the website often and search for things as if I were a customer to try and find bugs.  The last thing I want is to have frustrated customers. I know how that is!

Staying organized as things were busy during the holidays was also a challenge.  One of the biggest challenges for new businesses is growing too fast.  I could see that happening this year and I have been planning how to cope. Hiring seasonal help is going to be a must so I don't get overwhelmed.

On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?

What motivates me is my desire to start something good, something that will help give people jobs, something that will help the economy.  I also plan on having the business be self-sustaining in 5 years.  My family and I love to travel and that is what we plan on doing! 

What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
I like to include my family in the business as much as possible, so family and business can go together (sometimes teenagers aren't so willing!)  I also remind myself there is always more to do in the business; it is never "done," so I have to walk away and focus on family when it is time.  Setting a time limit for work has really helped me.  Evenings, Saturday afternoon, and all day Sunday are family times. 

What is next for your business?
This last year we went to a Christmas Tree Lighting and sold hot chocolate.  The response was very positive.  We will be planning more events like that.  We will also be expanding our offerings of hot chocolate from 38 to 75 varieties this fall.  

Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?  
Learn as much as you can about business before you go into it to make sure it is for you.  Set backs are opportunities for reevaluation and change.  Problems will come.  Successful businesses didn't give up when things got tough!

1 comment :

  1. Donna has a lot of advice that we can all apply. Thanks for the great review!