Milène Jardine Chocolatier - New York, NY
Milène Jardine’s customers and clients are thrilled by the exquisite chocolate truffles, beautiful presentation and luxury branding that her New York-based chocolate company offers – and few would imagine this couture chocolatier’s humble start.
Milène Jardine met the Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) Business Advisory Service team at the Food + Enterprise Summit held in Brooklyn in April 2016. She had recently lost her job as a product director at Macy’s, and she decided the time was right to formally launch a business that grew out of her passion for food, her love of travel and her family’s heritage. Her mission was simple: to connect and unite people through chocolate.
Milène needed help learning how to leverage the last of her savings to get her business launched, and would also need financing to grow it. The EGF team got started by reviewing her business model and connected her with the resources and mentors who could help her move her business forward.
First, EGF’s advisor, together with a counselor from a local SBA Small Business Development Center, worked with Milène on her business plan. The advisor also helped to secure local legal assistance through a legal assistance organization called Start Small Think Big so she could trademark her brand and recipes. Her EGF team also worked one-on-one with Milène to produce a cost matrix to determine product pricing, and introduced her to Kiva, a non-profit crowdfunded microloan platform. Her $6,000 project was fully funded and she was able to purchase packaging and equipment and bring on staff in preparation for Valentine’s Day—a move that was projected to increase her sales by 100 percent.
After several months of guidance from EGF, Milène launched her business’s e-commerce platform on October 31, 2016. Although she’s only months into life as the owner of Milène Jardine Chocolatier, she’s off to a terrific start with several thousand dollars—and growing—in sales each month. Milène knows that EGF’s team will be there to help with every step, including helping her access additional financing for her next phase of growth.