Donya Marie’s, founded in 2005. Transitioning from Arizona public official and legal career, to a successful food product designer and entrepreneur, has been an “exciting” journey! When Jason and I moved to Washington State in 2004 for Jason’s job, he urged me to consider doing a business that we could run in our retirement years. As I started casting around for what I might do given the opportunity to really do something I liked, I looked at many different possibilities. While toying around with several ideas for a business that could grow quickly, I had a family get together and decided to make something different for them; hand rolled chocolate truffles! They were, as one might imagine, a very big hit and Donya Marie’s business was founded! A few Farmers Markets later, with hardly enough money grossed to have lunch on, I realized the business model would have to change or we would starve to death in retirement! Rum cakes, chocolate ice cream sauces, and biscotti were added.
While revenue was better, it was not what I envisioned. Knowing that combining chocolate with certain spices brought out flavors that are usually lost, I thought, “Chocolate has a magical quality of making everything taste good. Some ingredient combinations may not allow the “taste” of chocolate to come through, but if the chocolate is taken out, you are then left with an ordinary morsel with an all too usual taste. It seems to make everything I make better, so why not put chocolate in everything?”
Before leaving my career, I rarely – if ever – cooked a gourmet meal. My penchant, however, definitely included enjoying fine food and quality restaurants in Arizona. That love for distinctive table fare, was definitely a sign of how things have evolved into my becoming an avid food designer! With my own developed recipes, products were made in a commercial kitchen, sold retail and in the restaurant, and those products were incorporated into wonderful foods served In Donya Marie’s Beyond Chocolate restaurant.
We sold our restaurant in July of 2012. Jason and I are retired in Ecuador, ironically the Country I bought all my chocolate from while in business. I am currently writing my books with my recipes and cooking tips.
Enjoy the chocolate journey!