Cleveland West Side Moms next Meet-A-Mom is Tamara from ZuZu Chocolates.
Tell me a little bit about yourself & family:
I grew up in Bay Village and currently live in North Ridgeville for almost 4 years. I have one son (Zander) that will turn 2 years old in October.
What are your favorite things to do with your family?
We love to go to the park, hike and travel when we can. One thing that we all can agree on is music! My husband Jon loves to play his guitar and my son loves to follow with his musical instruments. My son and I are always clapping our hands together and dancing away! We can’t forget about Chocolate making and testing. Let’s just say Jon and Zander LOVE to taste test!
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
This is a tough question. Everyone knows that I’m go, go, go and nonstop. One thing that not many people know is that I’m so hard on myself. Which is common for a lot of people. It kills me inside if I disappoint anyone but of course you have to stay strong always!
What are some of your favorite things about NE Ohio?
The people, sports team, and all the beautiful metro parks NE has to offer!
What’s your favorite family friendly restaurant in our area?
We LOVE Sitto’s Pita & Salads in North Olmsted. Going there weekly is a MUST. It’s always fresh and they never ever messed up on our order. Plus they are family owned and the sweetest ever!
Please tell us about ZuZu Chocolates! Why/when did you start it and how did you know this is what you wanted to do?
Christmas 2018 was our 1st Christmas as a married couple. We were able to get my mom ZuZu over and the rest of the family. We wanted to make sure we made something she loved, chocolate! So Jon and I messed around and came up with a couple items. Everyone had a little goodie bag of chocolates to take home. Everyone loved it!!! We didn’t stop coming up with recipes and in Jan 2019 my husband said why won’t you start a side business and donate a portion of the proceeds to The Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my mom! Of course I LOVED the idea. I was still working full time in my accounting job and Jon was as well but we worked nights and weekends launching our business. Since then we have grown so much and can’t believe it. We are extremely grateful for everything so far. Every year since 2019 we have doubled our donations to The Alzheimer’s Association. We hope to continue to grow it as time goes on.
ZuZu Chocolates has been featured on New Day Cleveland multiple times, Cleveland Magazine and Morning Journal had us featured as well. We Received Best of CLE 2020 for our Chocolate Pinatas and Ohio Tourism Guide named us in their 2021 issue! During the pandemic we grew so quickly and couldn’t believe it! We wanted to open a shop in 2020 but we were so scared with everything that was happening. Instead we came up with the idea of a Dessert Truck and launched back in November of 2020! It has been a great hit for private, public events and our own pop-ups. Cleveland Cavaliers and Westfield Insurance picked us and 5 other Cleveland businesses to do a Business Spotlight on. THEY KILLED IT! The interview turned out amazing and their video skills were unreal. You can find it on Facebook. Never in a million years did I think I would own my own Chocolate Company. I always thought I would continue my path in accounting since I was already 7 years in. My husband motivated me to quit my job when my son was 7 months old to help him and our business grow. Best decision I ever made! Now we are in the process of opening our own shop in Westlake on Center Ridge Rd. We hope to be open no later than October. Just in time for the holidays!
How has your community been instrumental in getting you to where you are now?
SUPPORT, SUPPORT, SUPPORT!!! We wouldn’t be where we are right now if it wasn’t for our community’s support. They helped us grow to what we are today. Anytime we have a pop-up, they always come out. When we have a fundraiser they always come out. When it’s a holiday- they put us to work even harder! Our community is our business and always will be. We are forever grateful for everyone and hope we can continue to make them proud!
What’s your favorite part about what you do?
My favorite part is that we have the ability to give back to The Alzheimer’s Association. It’s something that is so dear to us and hits home in many ways. We don’t promote it but we give back to the community and different organizations in many ways. Anytime someone reaches out for a donation we don’t think twice.
Do you have any advice for someone wanting to start their own business?
JUST DO IT AND NEVER GIVE UP! Starting your own business will not be easy and you will have so many ups and downs. But that’s what makes you grow and become better and stronger at the same time. Learn from your mistakes and don’t repeat them. It’s ok to ask for help and advice. Especially from someone else that owns their own business. They have been through and will understand where you are coming from. Don’t be afraid to push yourself to the next level! Always remember that it won’t happen overnight!
What’s your proudest accomplishment?
Our proudest moment was when we launched our dessert truck. That was a HUGE risk to take and has been one of our biggest accomplishments. We were so proud with every article or video that came out but we knew we weren’t done yet. Having the guts to sign a lease – that’s something for us to be proud of. We didn’t make it yet so it’s something in the works as an accomplishment.
Is there anything you would have changed or done differently with your business thus far?
Honestly, I was too forth giving in ideas when we first started. I would talk out ideas with others and unfortunately they would go and do it themselves. That really sucked because I was too trusting.
How do you juggle being a working mom?
The biggest question of them all. Does a mom really feel like they are ever juggling anything? It’s most definitely hard to do and I’m still learning. I work a lot during nap time, when he’s in bed and get up early when he’s still sleeping. I don’t want to make a living and forget about his needs and miss out on anything. My husband has been working from home since Covid first hit and that has been the biggest blessing for us. It definitely helps us!
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
Our goal is to have a total of 2 shops opened by then. Big dreams but if we work hard enough to make it happen we can. We hope that our son will be coming up with his own recipes to share with the world! All we can hope for is continuing to grow and of course have each other and stay healthy!
Who has most influenced you the most to be the mom you are today?
Hands down my mom of course! She was always my best friend and taught me everything. Yes, she was tough on me at times but she always had my back no matter what. Her heart has always been pure gold and I hope to always be at least half the mom she has always been!
For more information on ZuZu Chocolates, visit: https://sites.google.com/zuzuchocolates.com/choc/home