Here at Donor360, one of our guiding principles is heart-based consumerism. This means that we seek to trade products that do more good than harm, uplift people from poverty, and benefit enterprises doing good work. This is no easy feat, and we like to recognize our amazing brands for doing what they do.
A Chocolate Brand with Integrity
This month, we’re highlighting Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates, a small, family-owned chocolate company with a huge heart, a sustainable supply chain, and an incredible staff who hand makes all of their chocolates. Sjaak’s artisanal chocolates are vegan, organic, and divine. Ninety-five percent of their ingredients are made in-house, from the nut-butters to the coco milk and jams. Instead of being mass-produced in a factory, these gems are hand-rolled, by people who care.
If you ask us, you can definitely taste the difference.
Beyond the taste, though, is the commitment to honor the earth and people within Sjaak’s business model. One of the most important pieces to this is that Sjaak’s sources its cocoa beans from vendors who are Rainforest Alliance certified. This means that the beans come from farms where the environment, human rights, and the livelihood of the people harvesting the beans are uplifted. Since it’s estimated that over 1.8 million children are enslaved in the chocolate industry today, this is something we should all care deeply about.
Sjaak’s has been organic and vegan from the start, but they recently added a sustainability commitment with new ownership. They’ve eliminated as much plastic waste as possible from their packaging and have been trying their best to source materials that are recycled, compostable, or reusable.
Based on Community
“Environment and community are so important... the pandemic has definitely highlighted that...the importance of coming together as people to take care of each other, to take care of the planet,” Nicha Leaser, one of the new owners, told us in an interview.
Nicha and her family, who are originally from Thailand, acquired Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates from the founder, Jacques Holten, the day before the Shelter in Place order went into effect in California. The timely exchange worked seamlessly, as Jaques was looking to retire and Nicha and her family fell in love with the story and high-quality product that Jaques had built. During the transition, the Leaser family retained the majority of Jacques’s excellent staff, many of whom had been with the company for more than ten years.
Luckily for Sjaak’s, the pandemic afforded them an increase in business, as families who couldn’t see each other wanted to send each other chocolate. Sjaak’s was able to bring on even more staff in order to keep up with growing demand, something that was very important to the brand. Nicha told us that the company was incredibly happy to be able to provide consistency and stability to their new and loyal employees at such a turbulent time.
In addition to providing jobs in their local community, Sjaak’s is able to work with smaller vendors and stores due to the nature of their manufacturing process. Because all Sjaak’s chocolate is made by hand in small batches, independently owned grocery stores and small shops can stock Sjaak’s without ordering tens of thousands of units. Likewise, Sjaak’s can customize products for birthdays, graduations, or other celebratory events.
In fact, Sjaak’s is all about making fun, bespoke chocolates, along with serving the dietary needs of their customers. They have two KETO flavors available now, and upcoming they’ll be adding coconut milk chocolates made with maple syrup, which will be Paleo. For Halloween, they’re planning chocolate skulls filled with red raspberry jam, chocolate frogs, and horse-meeples of the apocalypse.
“Chocolate is fun, chocolate is a treat…[We want to our customers to] be able to buy something they’re excited about that has also been made in a very thoughtful and conscientious way,” Nicha told us.
If you want to try these delicious chocolates for yourself, and support a charity at the same time, head on over to any of these charity shops that sell Sjaak’s! Or better yet, start a campaign of your own to support any charity of your choosing with Sjaak’s Organic Chocolates. Sign up to get started.