How a Harvard-Trained Lawyer Built a $2.2 Million Company on Hand-Painted Chocolates
A corporate lawyer turned chocolatier creates dazzling products–and the packaging to ship them in.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Maggie Louise Callahan grew up in a home suffused with color and exceptional access to artists' tools and disciplines--her mother was an abstract painter. A law degree from Harvard led to a slightly less colorful, albeit challenging, career structuring complex and highly detailed financial transactions and working in venture capital. But after several years as an attorney, and a relocation to Austin as a trailing spouse, Callahan yearned to reconnect with, and be inspired by, the art of her childhood.
She enrolled in a professional pastry program and experienced what she called a "chocolate moment." She was intrigued by "tiny little sculptures that were so whimsical and cool, made with molds of designs that I had no idea existed," she says. Surely, other entrepreneurs had explored the potential of chocolate candy as art. They hadn't. She bought a supply of two dozen unique and fanciful molds, and hand-painted her creations. "Once I got the spark, I was all in."
1. At the Austin factory, jars hold cocoa butter tinted with oil-based food color. The mold is coated with the cocoa butter, and the color adheres to the chocolate's surface. Chocoholics can customize their orders--$1,000 minimum--from Callahan's style library of shapes, colors, painting techniques, and sheen.
2. The clear mold holds the colors that will coat these cactus confections, a popular item among Texans.
3. A stream of chocolate is poured into a cactus mold that's been painted moss green for the plant, pink for the blooms, and black for the pot.
4. Having filled the cactus mold--salted caramel is the most popular offering--the chocolatier scrapes off the excess outer-shell material.
5. These chocolate ice cream cones are part of a $25 box that includes three hamburgers, lips, and a strawberry.
6. Callahan knew that lipstick-shaped chocolate would be a big hit at beauty-inspired events and women's celebrations. She found a mold supplier and then created packaging for foolproof shipping. These are part of the Hello, Gorgeous! box.