BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) With Valentine's Day just a few days away, a family-owned Made in Vermont business is celebrating its second year, and the results so far have been pretty sweet.
NU Chocolat opened in Burlington just before Valentine's Day last year. "Our customers really said you've got to open for Valentine's Day and we said, 'Okay we're going to do that,'" said Kevin Toohey, who along with his wife, Laura, run the business.
Like all businesses, customers play a pivotal role, but without customers NU Chocolat would have never existed in the first place.
Kevin and Laura Toohey are master chocolatiers educated in the Swiss tradition.
"One of the things that differentiates us from most of the other chocolate companies is our classical training," Laura said.
They were working for another company in Shelburne in 2017 when it unexpectedly shut down. They wanted Kevin and Laura to start their own business and were willing to put their money where their mouths are, creating a GoFundMe page to get things going. "A lot of people stepped forward and really besieged us," Kevin said.
"The community will always be a huge part of our success," added Laura.
"They've certainly taken the ball and run with it. It's quite the story to see," said Dan Winslow, who works with businesses at the Vermont Community Loan Fund, where the Tooheys received financial support.
Winslow works with small businesses that are unable to get a bank loan or don't quite have the financial resources. "It was a challenge because we had to rely on projections. But it was really clear just that they all equally were willing to put in the time and effort to make it succeed. We thought there was a strong chance we could do it" Winslow said.
NU Chocolat uses chocolate from Peru, Venezuela, Madagascar and Columbia. While their caramels that contain Vermont honey are a favorite, truffles are the top item. There are eight different types and they're $2 each or $42 for a 20 piece box. You can find them online and in and around Burlington, including the place that started it all on Battery Street.
"This is really our fist opportunity to have our own retail store where we can create a perfect environment. And in a way, this is the big package that wraps all of our chocolates," Kevin said.
NU Chocolat is a gift -- a gift between a family and a community with a rich relationship.