We had the good fortune of connecting with Robin Katz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Robin, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started thinking about my business around the time my daughter, Nola Rose, was born.  She was the spark that changed my life and transitioned me into becoming a chocolatier.  At that time, I was a Sous Chef at the Marine Room in La Jolla, but had a great desire to create my own business so I could have more control over my work schedule.  It also allowed me to have complete control and expression of the creative process I enjoyed in the culinary field.  

I became very submerged into chocolates when I was pregnant and found myself always craving them.  I searched far and wide for high-end artisanal chocolates but found that there wasn’t a lot of variety in San Diego so I eventually I started making my own.  I began developing the chocolates with a chef’s background so I experimented with a lot of different and unique flavors; and plays on nostalgic classics.  I decided early on that I wanted the chocolates to be pieces of artwork–each one hand-painted and unique in its appearance as much as its flavor. I had the fortune of working closely with Chef Bernard Guillas and Chef Ron Oliver for nearly a decade, and in that time one of the things they really instilled in me was that you eat with your eyes first.  I also knew that if you work with the highest quality ingredients, you get the highest quality product.  I became pretty good at my new craft and people started asking to buy chocolates from me.  Requests for my bon bons steadily increased.  Nola Rose Chocolate was truly ignited and the business was created.

What should our readers know about your business?
In the very beginning I started making chocolates from my home for friends and family.  I saw very soon that people were really loving them and that I had a good product. I realized how strong my belief was in my own product and decided to move forward with a business.

In the start-up phase I struggled with branding and how I wanted my business to look. I decided the best way to jumpstart Nola Rose Chocolate was through acquiring wholesale accounts in addition to my retail sales.  I got my licensing in order and leased a professional kitchen and went for it!  I went door to door down the list of places I thought would enjoy and benefit from chocolates and started knocking.  I quickly realized how fortunate I was to start this business in San Diego.  I found such a huge welcoming for local business and artisanship that I was truly touched and overwhelmed with the response.  San Diego businesses support San Diego businesses!  Before long I had a book of business and the ability to create enough cash flow that I could do this full time. 
Unfortunately, Covid hit right as I was really starting to roll.  One hotel, restaurant or store after another called within a 48-hour time-frame to tell me they couldn’t buy anymore chocolates for the foreseeable future.  I was three years into the business at this point and honestly didn’t know what I was going to do.  I delivered chocolates around San Diego and pivoted from wholesale to retail.  I was discouraged and honestly wanted to give up at one point but my husband encouraged me to keep faith and keep moving forward.  And we did.  Eventually my anchor account came back which was very encouraging and really saved me.  One by one, accounts came back as the economy started to open up again.
I’ve been able to make a huge step forward with my business this  past month as well.  I’ve moved my little artisan chocolate factory into the  Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa.  They’ve allowed me to set-up a ghost kitchen within their own operation and will continue wholesaling chocolates from this new kitchen.  I’m hoping that with this move I’ll be able to expand my product line and business within San Diego.  I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have crossed paths with the General Manager of the Estancia, Eric Jenkins.  He truly believes in the talent and value of local San Diego artisans and wants to foster local small businesses.  I’m extremely excited to start making my chocolates from this lovely location at the Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa.  I plan on doing some pretty cool things there!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My family lives in the Point Loma/Ocean Beach area so I’m biased and LOVE MY HOOD.  When friends and family come to visit we make sure they see Sunset Cliffs, Cabrillo National Monument, Shelter Island and walk along Newport in OB.  We always make sure they pick up tacos at Mitch’s Seafood, eat sushi at The Joint, get a burger at Hodads, and some fried rice and wings at OB Noodle House.  We love getting drinks at places with a view–Bali Hai, Toms Hams Lighthouse and The Royal Rooster are on my tops list.  When live music comes back, there’s nothing better than a night at Winstons in OB.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my husband Dan.  I never would have been able to take that leap forward without his support the whole way through.  There were so many times that I wanted to quit but he told me to keep going–if it weren’t for him there would be no business because I probably would have quit before it even began without his constant support and belief in me.  Every time I told myself I couldn’t–he told me I could.  

Website: NolaRoseChocolate.com

Instagram: @NolaRoseChocolate

Facebook: @NolaRoseChocolate

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