We had the great opportunity to create a custom furoshiki wrap with Seattle-based fair trade chocolate maker Theo Chocolate. Learn about Theo's mission, creative process and goals around sustainability in our interview with their team.
What is Theo Chocolate’s mission as a company?
As a company rooted in cocoa, our mission is to create a more beautiful, compassionate and enduring world by responsibly making delicious and inspiring products for everyone.
We invite people to discover a better world through chocolate.
How did Theo’s start making chocolate?
We've been making high-quality chocolate from scratch, the hard way, from cocoa bean to chocolate bar, since 2006 in Seattle, WA.
We were driven by passion to create a positive impact through chocolate. For us, it's about more than chocolate. We believe that organic ingredients are better for people and the planet, and that fair-trade practices are essential to ensure farmers receive a living wage for their work. Everything we make and sell meets the highest organic and fair-trade standards. Our efforts are validated with rigorous third-party certifications.
We were the first organic, fair trade certified chocolate maker in North America, and we remain committed to pushing the industry forward today.
What is your inspiration or how has personal experience influenced the direction of Theo?
‘Community’ is the first of four employee-created values and a such source of inspiration for us. It is why our purpose is to invite people to discover a better world through chocolate.
One of the ways we cultivate community is by inviting people into our Chocolate Factory in Seattle to taste their way through the cocoa farm to chocolate bar journey. And if people can’t visit us in Seattle, then they can join one of our Theo chocolate experts live for a delicious Virtual Chocolate Tasting Class! These experiences teach people how Theo makes organic and fair trade chocolate from scratch, as well as educate them on the existing inequities within the chocolate industry. It empowers them to educate others and understand the impact that their purchases have on the world.
What is your creative process for your chocolates?
If you’ve ever had a Theo treat, we hope you’ll find that our love for creating delicious chocolate is evident in each bite. Using chocolate as a base, we are always experimenting to find delicious, unexpected flavors – as well as new takes on old classics.
Every product recipe is thoughtfully developed with minimal ingredients. We avoid soy or sunflower lecithin and instead choose cocoa butter to create a consistent texture. All ingredients are organic & kosher certified and always 100% soy free.
Is there something unique to Theo that you couldn’t imagine creating without?
We couldn’t imagine a world without chocolate, so everything we make starts with chocolate in mind. As a bean-to-bar chocolate maker we know everything about the cocoa we source, from flavor profile of the beans to the impact of purchasing those beans on the smallholder farmers in the DRC.
From the cocoa farmer in the DRC, to the truck driver in Seattle, and the chocolate lover in Philadelphia, we believe there is a thread that runs through us all. The choices we make here in Seattle touch lives across the planet in real and lasting ways
Which of your initiatives are you most proud of?
We are proud of the impact our cocoa bean purchases have had on the community in Watalinga, Eastern Congo.
100% of cocoa beans purchased in 2020 came from Watalinga, Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We purchase from our trading partner Esco Kivu, who buys cocoa beans directly from small holder farmers. Fair trade premiums, that Theo pays in addition to the base cocoa price, go to a Watalinga Cocoa Development Fund that the Watalinga Cocoa Farmers Association manages and determines how to spend to benefit their community.
In 2020, community projects funded included renovation of 2 health facilities, building a maternity unit at an existing health center and 8 schools improved through renovations, construction or equipment purchases.
How has your business changed over the past 2 years?
Two years ago, we were just finishing up a major rebranding project. After we redesigned our packaging, we started to focus on ecommerce, product innovation and the experiences we offer. The timing of these updates weirdly lined up with the pandemic, which meant that people were looking for virtual experiences and unique chocolate treats.
We have also launched some exciting new products, like our newest innovation, Cookie Bites. With every new project at Theo, we start with our love of chocolate before we start looking for new snacking ideas. We knew we wanted to create a chocolate treat that would really satisfy a sweet tooth, but also be the perfect snacking option for on-the-go adventures. We also knew that texture, a little crunch in fact, was important to us. With that in mind, we took inspiration from one of our other favorite treats, cookies, and rolled with it, literally!
Packed with classic flavors, like Snickerdoodle, Double Chocolate, and Mint Chocolate, our organic and fair trade Cookie Bites are a welcomed addition to any chocolate snacking moment.
Who are your biggest influences (art, music, film, socials, activism, entrepreneurs, etc)?
Our holiday designs were inspired by fashion, fabric, and stationary designs, mixed with nostalgic holiday movies and snowglobe miniatures.
Do you have any tips or practices to share with people who are making the lifestyle shift towards zero-waste and sustainable practices?
As a company, the way we approach sustainability is by weaving it deeply into our mission and values. Our values guide every decision we make at Theo.
It can feel overwhelming when you start making a lifestyle shift. A good place to start is by taking the time to write down what is important to you and where you can have the biggest impact and then start there.
Tell us a bit about the artist or the artwork used on your Wrappr!
The artwork was created by the Theo in-house design team to coordinate with our Holiday product packaging. Several of our packaging designs feature snow activities, including people skiing and sledding through a candy cane-filled winter wonderland. These skiiers were re-imagined into the pattern featured on our Wrappr design.
How did you come to work with Wrappr and what is the highlight of collaborating with Wrappr for you?
There is so much waste created during the holiday season and we wanted to find a sustainable and beautiful wrapping solution for our customers. Our designers spent so much time creating a warm and nostalgic winter wonderland for our holiday product packaging and we are so excited to see it come to life on a fabric. This wrap is something we will be using for the years to come.
What is your favourite way to use a Wrappr? Bonus points for originality!
Wrapping up a chocolate treat, obviously! But we have also loved tying them around our pet’s necks too.
Shop the furoshiki wrap on the Theo Chocolate website.