Reno chocolatier aggressively promotes her brand at Sugar Love Chocolates
Ever since she was a child, Krysta Bea Jackson has been influenced by the culinary arts.
Jackson worked at her mother’s restaurant growing up in Sparks and later for Sweets Handmade Candies in Reno. She also experienced the chocolate scene abroad while studying in Europe during college.
The concept of a chocolatier appealed to her so much that Jackson turned that passion into a new venture, Sugar Love Chocolates. She opened with a small storefront at The Basement, 50 S. Virginia Street in downtown Reno in 2015.
In an email sent to NNBW, Jackson touted sound sales so far this year, including around the busy Valentine’s Day holiday.
Sugar Love Chocolates offers a variety of different gluten-free items including French Truffles to White Chocolate Mingles to Banana Fosters.
Jackson is cognizant to fully stock her store with products, even if certain items are selling really well. “I don’t want the customers coming in to half-empty shelves at the store,” Jackson said.
Jackson believes online sales are just as important as in-store. Customers can also order chocolate items on Sugar Love Chocolates’ website, https://sugarlovechocolates.com/.
At first, Jackson struggled to find a creative moniker for her venture. But one day, she sent a test batch of her early creations to a friend and new mother who lived in Las Vegas. She playfully scolded Jackson for sending her sweet treats when she was still trying to lose weight from childbirth.
“I told her I was just trying to send her some sugar love,” Jackson said. “She replied, ‘That’s it! You can call your new business Sugar Love.’”
Since its inception, Jackson has been actively promoting Sugar Love Chocolates in a variety of ways. She works to interact on social media in some capacity on a daily basis, although that can be difficult at times when other demands of the startup need her attention.
Jackson also has been at the forefront of the local entrepreneurial and startup scene, including helping to organize events like The Biggest Little Startup Fair and Biggest Little Startup Weekend last year at The Freight House District adjacent to Greater Nevada Field. She is a member of several groups such as 1 Million Cups, a resource platform for entrepreneurs, and partnered with major special events such as Artown.
“Really I want to get Sugar Love out there as much as possible, although I’ll be pulling back on doing paid advertising,” Jackson said.
Aside from her small storefront at The Basement, she also rents a space at One World Kitchen, a co-working commercial kitchen for culinary entrepreneurs that based in Sparks, where she makes her product line.
“Being able to share a space at One World Kitchen is great because it allows me to reduce startup costs,” Jackson said.
Still, Jackson admits being a chocolatier startup is expensive, but she didn’t want to get tied down with startup or small business loans just in case Sugar Love Chocolates didn’t get off the ground.
“I probably took on too much debt at the beginning,” Jackson said. “I sunk most of my money into this and incurred a lot of credit card debt, which I probably shouldn’t have done.”
To help pay off those debts, Jackson took on a recurring part-time job in the evenings but is hopeful that once her financial situation is more stable, she can turn attention fully to Sugar Love Chocolates.
She has also sought other funding sources such as competing in the Reno Accelerator Fund, a source of working capital for entrepreneurs administered by the City of Reno. She also launched a Kickstarter campaign last December.
She has assembled a staff of four employees, plus another that’s on-call whenever she needs assistance.
Sugar Love Chocolates is open seven days a week and the storefront is located at The Basement, Reno. Because of her part-time work, Jackson explained Sugar Love Chocolates is open during midday hours, but hopes eventually to expand those hours of operation in the future.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.