The Chica Manifesto
Last week, we felt a little lost, so this week we're recollecting ourselves to get back on track. In these letters, we're hashing out the mission behind Chica and what drives us to work for something better every day.
Cassidy: To My Visionary,
Last week, we admitted to feeling young and dumb. I expressed that fear to a new friend today, when she asked what was on my mind. Most of the time, I said, I just don’t know what I’m doing.
I could feel what was building behind her teeth before she said it: that’s a normal feeling. It’s just part of being an entrepreneur. This is how our mentors and friends remind us of our worth when we show our vulnerability. And while I am grateful for this reassurance, it frustrates me, because it is not actionable. What I am looking for is someone to tell me how to not be young and dumb.
The problem is, I don’t think anybody can tell me that. That is what this friend reminded me of, when she confided that everyone is making this up. As someone who has served as communications director for the Bezos family and spoken at TED, she has been surrounded by experts with degrees, and professionals with successful companies. And she has seen that they are just as lost and confused as we are. Entrepreneurship isn’t new, but the obsession about entrepreneurship as a lifestyle is, and as such, there is no single school of thought that regularly churns out success stories.
It’s okay to not know exactly what we’re doing. But to know why we’re doing it–that is more important. When we envision the future of Chica, what do we see? I’m not talking about our five year proforma. Rather, I am asking: how is a world with Chica different from a world that doesn’t have Chica in it?
With these questions in mind, I think it’s time to revisit our mission and write a full-on manifesto. Here’s what I believe in:
Entrepreneurship as an equalizer. Creating something new should not be restricted to those that already hold the power.
Sustainable growth. Scaling in a way that remains responsible to the environment and our future employees.
Responsible sourcing. Knowing Chica from seed to truffle. Having confidence in the quality of our ingredients and the quality of life for the people that brought them to us.
Holistic health. Cultivating a deeper understanding of how our bodies work and what helps them work better. This includes respect for the menstrual cycle as an integral part of overall health, and a better understanding of Chinese medicine as a form of wisdom that can coexist within a Western framework.
A new dialogue around periods. One that is not defined in terms of shame. One that comes from the source: from the bleeders themselves. This includes nonbinary and trans menstruators, because not all women have periods and not all those who have periods are women. This includes a period experience that can be positive without fitting into the “goddess” archetype.
Being honest about our imperfection. Periods are messy. So is starting a business. We won’t pretend that we are perfect, but we will learn from our mistakes.
Community. Building a sense of belonging, and a sense of reciprocity with our Chica family. We call it subscription, but this is a call to arms: join us in changing the period experience.
What am I missing? What does a future with Chica look like to you?
Elise: Dearest Mission Maven,
The other week, I attended an event on raising business capital and Gary Hirshberg, a co-founder of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, said that the key to a business not failing is having a mission. I heard a similar sentiment at a natural foods branding event last summer, when the speakers showed that natural foods sell missions, instead of products, because it's difficult to stand out on the shelf otherwise.
I admit, I have given myself a little pat on the back when I hear these statements because we have always been up to our ears in mission. Your visions do not differ from my own ideas of creating our Chica universe. In fact, I'm going to call you later today and insist that we display your list prominently on our website. However, when building a business I sometime feel like our missions become a dogma and we secretly believe that once we are working for every single one of our missions, we will transcend into some state of nirvana and nothing else matters. That being said, I want to drop back down to Earth and remember the only thing that might allow us to transcend - eating really fucking good chocolate.
My addition to the list is:
Deliver the highest quality Chica possible. Be inspired to experiment and create the tastiest, most luxurious experience for each person who bites into Chica.
I have been making Chica in the kitchen of Robin Chocolates, and one of the perks of this is that Robin will hand me truffles to try throughout the day. Sometimes she wants me to provide feedback on a new creation, and other times she is showing me how it feels to bite into a perfect ganache. Working around Robin has inspired me to achieve higher and higher standards with Chica. I was proud when I figured out how to make vegan Chica, and ideas have been zipping through my head on different tweaks that could elevate Chica. It's tricky because we can't afford to raise our raw cost any more, but I can't help but be inspired to improve my skills when I'm around such a high quality chocolatiering, and I'm so intrigued by the many different ways of making chocolate that are displayed on our grocery stores' shelves.
Can't wait to share with you what I create and I CAN'T WAIT to have you back in the kitchen in July.