After being diagnosed with fibromyalgia as a college student, Jacquie Mosher found herself focusing more on what she puts in her body. The New Hampshire native gained critical acclaim among friends and family for her healthy chocolate-making — organic, raw and additive-free — and decided to try her hand at doing something she holds dear. She started Radiantly Raw soon after moving to Colorado with her husband Allan in 2012, and her chocolates can be found in various local businesses, including Fifty Fifty Coffee Shop (which serves as her after-hours kitchen), Mountain Mama Natural Foods and Ranch Foods Direct. Mosher, 28, took some time this week to talk about her passion for nutritious foods, her Westward relocation and her growing Springs-based business.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became a small business owner?
I managed coffee shops throughout college, so I got a taste of working with a wonderful team of people and in the small business community. I ended up taking a job back in New Hampshire, where I am from, with a nonprofit educational consulting company as an event coordinator — I planned conferences for them for about four years. I was bored and I knew that I needed to start my own business, but I wasn’t sure just what. … I think that we associate Colorado with adventure, and we wanted to go on an adventure. … I ran into the right people, created a product that I believed in and that was it.
How did you become interested in starting your own business, and why chocolate?
When my mom asked me as a kid what I wanted to do when I grow up, I said that I want to own my own business. I think it’s something that you just know you’re supposed to do. Anywhere that I have worked, I have felt like I wasn’t able to use my creative ideas or be able to problem-solve the way I wanted to — I just didn’t have that freedom. I didn’t always know it would be chocolate: I thought it was going to be something else. I was making chocolates for myself and noticed that friends would come over and not just take one, but two or three. … And then a friend of mine opened Nourish Organic Juice downtown and said, “If you get your wholesale license and some inventory together, we’ll carry your product.” At first I wasn’t sure if there was a market for it in Colorado Springs, so I tested it out here for some time and realized that it was catching on. So then I went all in, expanded the flavors that I offer and started to get more creative with it and more intentional about it.
What has starting a small business here been like for you as a young professional?
It is an open market, especially for raw chocolate. I’m the only one doing raw chocolate. I think it was almost easy. … I never really tried to get into a store, they always came to me, which was amazing. But starting your own business is never really easy. I think that the biggest challenge is that we’ve grown so fast. We would love to provide our product to everywhere possible, but it’s just not possible right now. … There have been challenges and there have also been things that just happened. I really do believe in gut feelings when it comes to business and I believe that if it’s meant to be, it will happen. … I think that we have been fortunate to work with many local businesses and we network as much as possible. We try to support local charities and other organizations. That has become challenging too because we’ve been growing and it has been a little harder to keep up with the local support that we give, but we definitely make it a priority.
How would you characterize the YP community in Colorado Springs?
I think it is [a good environment for young professionals]. Everyone has seemed very supportive of young professionals, especially of those who are trying to pave a new road. There is not a lot of small business, and it’s challenging. There has been a lot of support and I’ve had a lot of people come my way and help move us along.
What role did your diagnosis have in starting this business?
I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was in college, and it was very tough for me to be myself. People didn’t understand why I was so tired and there were some things said about me being tired, or being lazy. I really think people are struggling with the way food is affecting their bodies and think that we should be spending a little bit more money on higher quality foods that are better for our bodies. … My diagnosis was something that I struggled with for some time: I experimented with a bunch of different diets and finally just realized that having nutrient-dense foods throughout the day let me feel normal, fine, functional and normal. … Our goal is to educate people on nutritious foods and to encourage them to tie them into their daily diet — and to feel better.