Shalini Latour, owner of Chocolats Latour
With Belgium ancestry and a love for all things chocolate, Shalini Latour, owner of Chocolats Latour, has chocolate in her blood. She knows and understands that there is nothing shameful about indulging and delving into your inner chocoholic.
Latour started her business five years ago following a foot injury that required her to take a break from her wedding cake business and job as a yoga instructor. “At the same time, a friend had a project of opening a chocolate lounge – of which he asked me to produce the chocolates for,” says Latour. “Although the lounge never happened, I had already started production and was getting a great response, so I kept going.”
Her first sale was to friends around Valentine’s Day, and from there she began selling at Findlay Market and farmer markets. Then she slowly expanded her network by reaching out to small local stores and coffee shops, until Park+Vine and Market wines stocked her merchandise on a consistent basis.
Since its launch, Chocolats Latour has evolved from a double boiler to hundreds of molds, two tempering machines, an airbrush, a room full of packaging and shipping supplies, and over 15 sales locations around Cincinnati. “I also have around 200 lbs. of chocolate around at any given time!” says Latour.
This month Latour is renting The Kitchen Factory in Northside to start producing her chocolates and be able to offer them more widely to the public. “I am also working on adding a shopping cart to my website so that people will be able to order directly online from anywhere,” she says. “It will be up before the holidays, so be sure to keep checking!”
To finance this expansion, Latour launched the Chocolate Bar Club, a way for people to get chocolate delivered to their door for the next six months. “I would love more members and would use the capital to hire more help, attend trade shows and order supplies for the business,” says Latour.
Today, Latour has the support from her friend, Rosanna, and her mother who help with packaging as well as a network of others who pitch in at farmers markets. “Some of them work for chocolate,” laughs Latour.
Chocolats Latour offers chocolate bars in 12 unique flavors. New this year are their seasonal chocolate bars for fall: Smokin S’more (dark chocolate with Grateful graham crackers, vegan marshmallows and smoked chili) and Fall Romance (dark chocolate with lemon pecan, cranberries and spice berry). For the Holidays, they will be making a set of two bars: Nice and Naughty. Chocolate bars retail at $6.50 each.
Also offered are truffles and caramels. “For the fall, the bourbon pecan caramel is very popular and for the holidays I will be making the Sloshed Snowman, Mulled Wine Truffles, Egg Nog cream and more,” says Latour. These are available in boxes of 4 for $8, 8 for $15 or in holiday shaped boxes. She is also smoking poblano peppers from the Findlay Market farm to use for her new hot chocolate mix.
In the future, Latour hopes to move the whole production to a commercial space. “I would also like a tiny retail space where people could come and pick up chocolate, which I see happening in 12 to 24 months,” she says. “My goal no matter what is to be involved in production, as it’s my favorite part. I want to make sure that I keep the same quality and commitment to local ingredients.”
To sign up for the Chocolate Bar Club, visit their Etsy shop or visit www.chocolatslatour.com for a list of locations. To place an order, call (513) 591-0085 or e-mail Latour at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latour will also be available at The Northside Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays from 4-7 p.m. and the Findlay Market on Saturdays from 8-2 p.m.
Photo credits: Tina Gutierrez Photography