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Sarah Gross, Founder of Rescue Chocolate (INTERVIEW)

100% of Profits go to Animal Shelters

— February 1, 2012 — Social Good
Last week we featured a social business started by Sarah Gross, a young entrepreneur who put her love for chocolate and rescue animals together with the creation of Rescue Chocolate. 100% of the profits from every chocolate bar sold go toward animal rescue organizations -- and on top of that, they have fun branding too, including bright packaging and flavours like Peanut Butter Pit Bull and Pick Me! Pepper.

Today we're sharing answers from our interview with Sarah. Below she shares how she got up the courage to start her own business by following her passions, as well as her tips on staying inspired.

4 Questions with Sarah Gross

1. How did the idea for the business model come about?
I was walking my rescued pit bull, Mocha, in the park one morning, noticing all the other wonderful dogs and their people romping through the meadows, thinking how lucky we all were to be there. Which led me to think about all the poor dogs (and cats) who would never get the chance to have such basic happiness or really any kind of life at all. Last year in America, 4 million dogs and cats were killed in municipal animal control facilities because no permanent homes could be found for them. I wanted to join with the people working to bring down that horrible statistic, and I got the idea to do so by combining my two greatest loves: animals and chocolate. I thought it might fly because most people do love animals, or chocolate, or both!

2. How did you decide to join this sector?
I knew a little bit about chocolate manufacturing because I worked briefly at a raw vegan chocolate company in Queens. I was also a self-styled chocolate expert who kept a notebook full of the wrappers of different chocolate bars, with my critiques on the chocolate's taste and aroma and texture. The social responsibility sector was beginning to go mainstream. Nowadays you can hardly pick up a product that doesn’t have some text on the label telling you that a portion of the purchase price will be donated to some charity, whether it’s for breast cancer research, or the rain forests, or endangered species. Consumers love the fact that their dollars will do double duty, that they are getting a quality product and helping the world at the same time. If there are companies out there which are not on this bandwagon yet, they will be soon.

3. How do you get your inspiration?
New York is a creative place to be. There are meet-ups for animal-lovers and vegans and chocoholics, all of which allow me to hobnob with the people who can share their ideas with me. And when I’m researching the new animal rescue groups that Rescue Chocolate might partner with, I find out about the most pressing issues in their world, and that might lead to a new Rescue Chocolate flavor. For example, my Peanut Butter Pit Bull bars came about because of the bad rap that this breed has been getting lately. Pit bulls can actually be the most loving, loyal dogs on the planet, if they receive the proper training. So people purchasing that bar on my website will also see resources on how to combat the negative stereotype and how to fight breed-specific legislation.

4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
Of course, my secret is chocolate. The non-dairy variety is a super health food with anti-oxidants that combat all kinds of diseases, and there are other components that have been shown to enhance one’s mood. I get so many ideas when I eat chocolate after a couple days' break. Chocolate can give me so much mental and physical energy that I actually have to be careful not to eat too much when I’m going to be in a confined place such as an airplane for a long time. I do try to combine chocolate-eating with a good workout at the gym or the ballet studio, and then perhaps a little yoga at night to wind down.