Lou-retta's Custom Chocolates, Inc.
When Loretta discovered the joys of baking and making chocolate, she decided to start her own company - working in her home kitchen. Undaunted by the cool reception she received from the banker who turned down her initial request for a loan to expand her operation, she asked her husband to co-sign the loan, and then forged ahead and started her company. As her customer base grew larger, Loretta recruited her daughter Ellen to help run the company.
Loretta's company made custom chocolates and gourmet gift baskets, including custom items for corporate customers such as Dean Witter, Lancome, Prudential Bache, Trans America, and the Japan Travel Bureau. She was the first person in the US to sell a three-dimensional chocolate rose. Other specialty products created by her company are chocolate lipstick, gourmet chocolate-laced popcorn, and chocolate glazed pretzel nuggets dusted with edible gold. Marketing was the key to the growth of Lou-retta's, from trade shows to the Home Shopping Network to Saks Fifth Avenue, Loretta pursued customers around the world. After 20 years of sweets production in Buffalo, Loretta sold her company to Art CoCo, a 13-year old chocolate novelty manufacturing company based in Denver.
Loretta, an enthusiastic advocate of small business, especially women-owned small businesses, is frequently the featured speaker at business forums and conferences all over the US. Her message to other business owners, especially women business owners, is to "learn to walk the fine line between doormat and barracuda." The fact that Loretta is a 30-year breast cancer survivor just makes her story that much sweeter.