Testimonials are hard to come by. Celebrity ones — even more so.
But that’s not the case for Chocolatier Milene Jardine, which is converting chocolate-lovers to its adventurous flavors that include hibiscus flower and hard-to-come-by Sicilian lemons. Grit Daily caught up with Milene Jardine of the eponymous brand to dig in on the latest in luxury yet affordable chocolates. Your palette can thank us later.
Grit Daily: You had your own interesting ventures before Milene Jardine. Share those.Milene Jardine takes her chocolate seriously. She counts the Clintons and Buffett among clients.
Milene Jardine: Before becoming an entrepreneur, I started my 12 year career in fashion at Macy’s Corporate Private Label Design House. From intern to product director, I worked on multiple brands like Bar III, Alfani, Tasso Elba, and every category of menswear from head to toe. In 12 years, I had nine positions in different product apparels, accessories, and footwear.
This helped me increase the speed of my learning curve and improve my problem solving skills. With extensive detail going into every garment, teamwork and communication were essential to achieve results. During my tenure as director, we scaled Men’s Bar III to $50 million in three years and Alfani Men’s Dress Shoes to be the #1 volume brand in the department. As I advanced in my career, I traveled internationally to factories to negotiate production and visited Europe to oversee trend direction.
GD: Why wade into the (seemingly) crowded market for chocolate?
MJ: After Macy’s 2016 consolidation, the product categories I managed were licensed to a vendor, and my job was eliminated. With an open road ahead of me, I decided to create my own brand that combined my passion for travel and childhood love for creating sweets. The chocolates share my stories and take my customers on a journey to a different country to experience a new flavor. The ingredients utilized are fresh with natural health benefits to offer a dessert that indulges and heals.
There’s real lemons straight from a farmer in Sicily and actual mint leaves and hibiscus flowers brewed in cream to create the truffle ganache, no preservatives, artificial flavors, or added sugars. The styling embodies a modern elegance with each confection made to harmonize a graceful release of flavor and texture, wrapped in elegantly modern packaging. The hope is to spread happiness, celebrate diversity, and inspire a world to “Live by Love” with each chocolate.
GD: Who is buying?
MJ: Milène Jardine Chocolatier services companies with a gift to connect with their clients, build a relationship, and say thank you for their partnership. From custom corporate gifts and unique pairing events of chocolate or cheese and spirits, we work with companies including Roger Vivier, Google, Santander Bank, and Athena Art Finance. The chocolate bars are sold at individual retailers like Foragers and the boutique hotel Soho House NY. Our online shop caters to individual customers’ needs and clients looking for party favors.
GD: What does it mean to “live by love?” Don’t we already… do that?
MJ: It’s easy to love family, friends, and familiar foods/places, but the unknown can be intimidating. After exploring over 35 countries, I met so many inspirational people, listened to their history, ate their food and saw just how beautifully diverse our world is. My travels taught me about the healing power of food, of connection, and of love. I translated these journeys into flavors to bring people together. For example, the hibiscus and mint flavor shares my experiences in Egypt.
Hibiscus is the tea of the ancient Egyptian gods, and fresh mint is used in their hot tea. While there, I learned about female pharaohs like Hatshepsut, and the CEO of the factory I frequented in Cairo was a woman. I named the flavor Goddess to celebrate the ancient and modern women thriving in this country. My brand is my channel to share these wonderful stories, bring hope and share love with people across different cultures.
GD: Tell us about your relationship to Hillary Clinton.
MJ: Hillary Clinton wrote my first letter of testimonial. She enjoyed the chocolate truffles on her Victor Private Jets flight to Code Conference and mailed me a letter to share her thanks. I have it framed in my apartment.
GD: And Sting? And Warren Buffett?
MJ: I’ve been blessed to have both these influential individuals gifted with the “Live by Love” Chocolate Truffle Collection. One of my real estate clients purchased the chocolates to gift to Sting and his wife Trudie after working with them on their NYC property. Warren Buffett has received the truffles for Christmas over the past two years. My client who heads the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC) attends Warren’s holiday dinners in Omaha and gifts the chocolates to him and his family. The QEDC are great supporters of the brand as we partner to raise awareness about products “Made in Queens.”
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