MAD Chocolates owners Jeannie and Kaylie Keays view their shop as more than just a business. It represents an opportunity for the mother and daughter team to work on and build something together.
“Kaylie's dad died when she was three and we moved up to the Yukon,” says Jeannie. “I tried doing an apprenticeship but Kaylie didn't seem super happy there, so we came back home; that’s when we entered into the whole chocolate scene.”
Jeannie became a professional chocolatier in 2009. Her apprentice in training, 14-year-old Kaylie, has been involved since the business opened.
“It used to be Jeannie's Chocolates and I would help out,” explains Kaylie, “but then I was helping out a lot, so we decided to change the name.”
Jeannie's Chocolates became MAD Chocolates and moved into its current location at 6753 Cranberry Street in 2015; the business celebrates its two-year anniversary this month.
All chocolates are made on location using quality ingredients. Quality, rather than quantity, is the main focus.
“Our chocolates are all organic and fair trade, which is really important to us,” says Jeannie.
Products include eight flavours of ganache-centred bars and six more bars with solid centres, as well as truffles and moulded chocolates.
“The truffles are rolled in nuts, chocolate or toasted coconut,” explains Jeannie, “then there are the shaped chocolates.”
Prior to summer of 2016, a seasonal mobile unit was added to better suit the market.
“In the summer we still have the chocolates on the truck, but we also do milkshakes, burgers and coffees,” says Kaylie. “In the winter we are in the shop.”
Burgers are not available at the shop, which is open from 11 am-5 pm Tuesday to Saturday. In addition to chocolates, features include AeroPress coffee, a variety of milkshakes and a selection of teas.
“We also have SassyMack’s Ice Cream when it is available,” says Jeannie. “We have some now, but it goes quickly.”
Jeannie says supporting local businesses is a priority, whether for ingredients or business-related help. For example, coffee-flavoured chocolates made at the shop include ingredients from 32 Lakes Coffee.
“We support local talent as much as we can,” says Jeannie. “All of our wrapping comes from CMG Printing and we have Avalon whipped cream from Ecossentials.”
As well as doing custom work for buyers with specific requests, Jeannie and Kaylie showcase Powell River-made products in the shop from Just Soul Food, a raw-chocolate business with a focus on desserts, macaroons from A Piece of Cake, and caramels from Velma’s Candy, Tea and Gifts.
Helping organizations and individuals is also important, says Jeannie.
“We like to support the community,” says Jeannie, “whether it’s donating a chocolate box to auction off, or our time for making something.”
To avoid unnecessary recycling, customers can bring their MAD Chocolates boxes in for refills, and receive a $1 discount for doing so.
“It encourages reusing; that’s what we are about,” says Jeannie.
Kaylie balances her work schedule with schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
“I work more in the summer, but sometimes I bring my homework to the shop,” she says.
The grade-nine student at Brooks Secondary School is interested in continuing to learn from her mother, but has her eye on other pursuits as well.
“I want to learn everything she knows, but I’m leaning toward something like English,” says Kaylie. “I’ll always be around to help out though.”
Jeannie says adapting to a steep learning curve has been a big part of operating the shop. Overcoming hurdles has allowed the business to develop and attract new customers, she adds.
“Our business is slowly growing, step by step, so people are still discovering us,” says Jeannie.
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