NORWALK, Conn. -- When Norwalk's Trent and Sasha Lewis couldn't find a satisfying chocolate spread with all-natural ingredients, they decided to launch their own. After a little more than a year their product is now featured in more than 400 stores.
The idea for Barefoot & Chocolate came from Sasha, who Trent describes as "the real chocoholic in the family." They felt that most chocolate spreads used preservatives and artificial ingredients. They wanted something better -- and decided to make their own.
Trent, who grew up in Darien, worked at Chuck's Steakhouse as a high school student and worked in restaurants in college. Though he hadn't worked much with chocolate, that culinary experience led him and Sasha to try their hand at making their own chocolate spread.
"We spent a few months in our kitchen, tinkering and working on it. We eventually came up with some awesome recipes," he said. They've developed three varieties of chocolate spread: hazelnut, dark chocolate almond and almond coconut.
Their spreads have more than 50 percent more nuts and 20 percent less sugar than most chocolate spreads, he said. They don't use artificial ingredients or preservatives, and use non-GMO ingredients. But the most important thing is not only the quality of the ingredients, but also where they come from.
"All of our products use Fair Trade cocoa, cane sugar and vanilla," he said. All their supplies are overseen by the Fair Trade USA to make sure they comply with standards such as child labor laws, sanitary conditions, and that farmers who grow the products are paid a fair wage. "That's very important to us."
Once they launched the spread, they started selling to Whole Foods in the Northeast region, eventually expanding. They are now in 26 states across the country.
Their production is still small, and they have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help grow. Trent said that they are asking for small donations so they can hire employees, get a bigger kitchen space and sell to more stores.
"We felt that Kickstarter was a great way for us to spread the word about Barefoot & Chocolate, tell our story, and raise some capital to grow the business," he said. Eventually he'd like to see more flavors and different jar sizes. "I've got a whole sheet of flavor ideas."
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