Sarah Gross was born in Texas and raised in Louisiana, where she was into both ballet dancing and animal rights. Sarah became a vegan while still in middle school, and enjoyed volunteering at the local animal shelter. After a 3-year professional ballet career that took her from the West Coast to the East Coast, she hung up her pointe shoes, adopted a pit bull, and launched Rescue Chocolate from her home in Brooklyn. She also co-founded the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival which will present its 3rd edition next spring. Currently, she’s the owner and president of Rescue Chocolate, and her duties include everything from product development and marketing to packaging and shipping. The company has partnered with hundreds of animal rescue groups to help them in their fundraising. Rescue Chocolate products are sold in a variety of boutiques, groceries, veterinary offices, and online shops. You can find more information on Facebook and Twitter.
1. How did you get started in the industry? How can someone who is interested in your work get started?
I got started by simply being a chocolate lover, trying all the interesting brands out there, gong to chocolate meet-ups, and introducing myself to people with the same passions as mine. One of the connections I made that way was with a chocolate consultant who ultimately turned out to be very valuable in putting me in touch with a chocolate factory that could work with me on my ideas. Reaching out to companies cold (through emails or phone calls) is far less effective than going in with a personal touch.
2. What’s the future of your industry or job?
The chocolate industry will always be healthy because it is a luxury item that almost everyone can splurge on. Growth will be in the artisan sector, because consumers will develop increasingly sophisticated palates. The super-cheap, cardboard-like chocolate bars at the big box stores will satisfy fewer and fewer people.
3. What do you look for when you hire an intern or entry-level candidate?
Honesty and integrity are my top my priorities. I won’t be able to donate if I have people slipping chocolate bars into their pockets while I’m turned away. (But I’m happy to provide free samples, of course!) I also need great communication skills, and a love for animals doesn’t hurt either. If the intern can sell the message about how great my chocolates are and how the proceeds are all donated to animal rescue groups, then it is a win-win.
4. What is one thing an intern can do to make a favorable impression?
Show up on time, and be really present (not checking texts or looking around the room as if bored to tears).
5. Can you share a positive intern story and an intern horror story? No names needed…
To be honest, I’ve only had one intern so far, and he was fabulous. He came from France as part of a student exchange program. I was afraid that his English wouldn’t be good enough to get by. But he was so enthusiastic and presented himself so well that language wasn’t an issue at all. He went above and beyond what I asked him to do. For example, if I needed an Excel chart with email addresses, he would include names and ship-to addresses in addition to the emails! I’m getting two more from France next summer, and I can’t wait.
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