Why and how did we sell Xocodiva, our artisan chocolate business?
It felt right.
We listened to the universe (guides, angels, whatever you choose).
In neither of our wildest dreams did we imagine that in 2016 we'd move to Puerto Vallarta and own - be making artisan Belgian chocolate (and artisan ice cream). But it happened - and it all happened quickly and easily - when it's right, it's right.
So why after almost three years did we sell Xocodiva, the chocolate business - especially since we were obsessed with what we were doing?
The short answer is that it felt right in our hearts, it was time to let the chocolate go to someone who could give it the time and attention it deserved.
The long answer is that from day one of taking over the chocolate and ice cream businesses, we've been focused on the chocolate business. Why? Because after ten years, the previous owners had closed the chocolate business for over six months by the time we purchased it. We had no store and no farmers market, and everyone knew Xocodiva was closed. How to turn the biz around? We needed to find a store and market to sell our chocolate and we needed to find it fast.
What to do first. I rebranded the chocolate company with fresh colors and logo. I wanted to make it ours and love design.
We never did find the right store location, so we opened our kitchen for chocolate sales - which worked well since customers could see the magic happening in the kitchen through a window. We opened to the public only a few days a week though because on the same side as the store area was where we made ice cream ingredients - we didn't want production to interfere with customers and vice versa. We also didn't want to work too hard because, well, we intended on semi-retiring in Vallarta. Ha! Ha, haha :)
By the way, if you think attempting to semi-retire when you own two businesses doesn't make sense - you're RIGHT!
We kept the same amazing quality, and and also added our own touches... we started painting chocolate truffles since we LOOOOVE ART. Also enjoyed creating new flavors for truffles and barks. One of our fav new flavors for bark was CHUBBY HUBBY... dark chocolate-milk chocolate-pretzels-amish caramel! Another was PEANUT BUTTER CRUNCH - peanut butter between two pretzels, then milk and dark chocolate. Some of our new favorite truffle flavors we created were Strawberry Balsamic, Lavender, Limoncello, Raspberry Hazelnut and Mexican Gazpacho! The creative process with chocolate, including gorgeous packaging was/is SEXY & BEWITCHING!
Slowly but surely, customers started coming back and new customers also found our chocolate. We were also on house hunters international, which brought even more customers.
But what about Lix Ice Cream? Of course that was fun too and our natural ice cream has the same natural belgian chocolate - we created new flavors. But Lix was the red-headed step child of the family. We didn't have the energy to work on any more ideas other than a few new flavors here and there.
Around Christmas 2018, a thought popped into our head... Todd's son James was in his twenties and looking for his path- he might be interested in living in paradise (Vallarta) and helping us with the chocolate business - with the thought that eventually he would take over.
James was SUPER EXCITED and definitely wanted to follow this plan... so we told him to save up money and he could move to PV in September of 2019, before we reopened from summer break.
Fast forward to the end of May 2019 when we received a call from James - he changed his mind and was not interested in moving to PV and working with chocolate, it wasn't meant to be. At the time we were devastated.. we were looking forward to having James live in Vallarta, and also excited that we could direct some of our energy on the ice cream at last.
One day soon after we received the call from James, we were having dinner with our neighbors and made a joke about selling the chocolate business to them. They laughed and made a joke back that they'd be interested in buying it.
And they were serious! They took over the chocolate business in October 2019.
This is when the magic happens... when you're open and you listen. And now Todd and I can work on our ideas for the ice cream business.
Meanwhile, in my character Larleen's world... Billy Bob sold the chocolate business without her knowing. (P.S. Larleen is obsessed with chocolate). Here's her reaction:
it's time for artisan ice cream
We needed a new kitchen since we left the kitchen with the new owners of the chocolate biz, and decided it'd be perfect to open a second Lix ice cream shop in another location... so we've now opened our second location in Fluvial with our kitchen (and a window so that when we're making ice cream and the homemade ingredients that go into it, you can watch the scrumptiousness happen!). This all came together in the summer/fall of 2019 with our soft open at the end of November of 2019 - it is NOT easy to open a store/kitchen in Mexico, especially when you have equipment being shipped from different parts of the world!
The most important thing I've learned about both businesses... artisan natural products are a gazillion times better than most of what you'll buy in a grocery store. Better quality, less or no harmful chemicals. I've been spoiled by these two businesses and believe in quality products made from local ingredients - believe in feeding my body NATURAL.
Todd's obsessed with ice cream and with the culinary world, and now he's in heaven... creating fun new flavors, with my input as well - I'm pushing for BURNT SALTED CARAMEL - YES!!! I've never been obsessed with ice cream until I tasted our ice cream - now I can't get enough of it - wait till you see all the new exciting things we'll be adding besides decadent unique flavors!
What are your burning questions about opening a new business in Mexico? Send me a note below, would love to help.