Chocolate. Jasmine Mead thought about chocolate in her Marketing class. She thought about it some more in her Retail Business Management class. And again in Small Business Management.
She didn’t so much want to eat it as make it – and make it in a way no one else has.
Homeschooled and exceptionally driven, Jasmine entered Finger Lakes Community College at age 16 with a plan to use every class in her marketing major to turn her concept for a niche chocolatier into a business plan. College, for Jasmine, was not a stepping stone to something else. She wanted it to be the direct path to her own storefront.
“From the very start of my time at FLCC, I decided that I would make the conscious decision to apply everything I learned to my business,” said Jasmine, now 19.
“So when I sat in class, I’d apply the concepts to my business. For example, I learned: There’s four P’s in marketing – product, placement, price and promotion. I thought, all right, how can I create a good product? Where should I locate my store? What should I price my products at? Where am I going to advertise? That was my thought process throughout all of my classes. When I was assigned to create a business plan, I created one for my business. When I was assigned to research a business industry, I choose chocolate.”
But a business plan would only get her so far. Jasmine had been tinkering with chocolate for several holiday seasons in her parents’ kitchen at home in Palmyra, Wayne County, but she knew she needed to take her craftsmanship up a notch.
“I realized that my skill could only advance so far without training, so I decided to look into learning from an expert. I discovered that a chocolatier in Rochester was accepting interns. I met with the owners and was accepted as an intern. I worked there for a year, learning the skills I was after,” she said.
Even as she doggedly pursued her goal, others didn’t take her as seriously.
“I think a lot of adults just thought that chocolate was a nice hobby for me. The month I finished my internship was the month I signed the lease, and my chocolate mentor was really surprised that I was so committed to having my own shop!”
That shop is Whisper Chocolate in downtown Geneva, a small Finger Lakes city at the north end of Seneca Lake. She opened in May 2011 producing small batches of handmade French and Belgium chocolates, flavored with everything from grapefruit balsamic vinegar – made by another local business – to peanut and cashew butters produced in a nearby village.
Now she’s heading into the busy holiday season with a new challenge.
“My mom underwent surgery to remove a tumor in her brain. Although she’s recovering very well, it’ll be months before she can come back to help me at Whisper Chocolate. Now it’s even more essential for me to have good time management skills and increased production as the holiday season comes up and custom orders build up. But I’m confident that I can overcome the challenges. I’ve got a good education – from both my internship and FLCC – and a huge support system,” Jasmine said.
Ed FitzPatrick, professor of business administration and retailing, has confidence in her, too.
“She’s always positive, but she’s quietly positive,” he said, adding she’s the type who must prove things not to others, but herself. “She has such high standards.”
A customer himself – “she makes incredible truffles” – Ed says Jasmine will be one of the students he never forgets.
“I can’t wait to see where she is a few years from now.”
Learn more about Jasmine’s business, Whisper Chocolate, at 444 Exchange St., Geneva at www.whisperchocolate.com.