Seattle Chocolates: Sweet, Creamy Ascent

Jean Thompson understands that chocolate is more than just a treat. It’s about forming connections.

It’s about celebrating, healing, indulging and, sometimes, just pausing for a moment to reflect on life’s little pleasures.

From the moment a visitor steps foot in Seattle Chocolate’s retail showroom, it’s also immediately clear that the business is about women.

From the over-size pink double-door entry and neon sign in the lobby declaring, “Like you, Fabulous,” to the brightly wrapped chocolate bars lining the tables and a trio of mannequins clothed in gowns inspired by those wrappers, this is a place the reflects the style and sensibility of its owner.

Thompson took over as CEO in 2002, about 10 years after the company was founded and shortly after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake destroyed the company’s original home in Pioneer Square.

She moved the company to its current location in Tukwila, and began infusing it with her style. That meant embracing the worlds of fashion and foodies, experimenting with a line of “Chick Chocolates” (varieties included “Strong Chick,” “Nutty Chick,” and “Extreme Chick”), manufacturing Choxie Chocolates for Target.

“I introduced color to the brand,” Thompson said.

Today, Seattle Chocolates employs about 50 people, including a family of three.

In addition to its eponymous Seattle Chocolates line of bars and truffles, the company is the maker of Frango mints, the iconic truffle first created for Frederick & Nelson department stores and sold today at Macy’s department stores throughout the country.

It’s also the maker of jcoco, a new line of American couture chocolate that exemplifies its embrace of both fashion and flavor.

With bold flavors — including peanut butter and jelly, black fig pistachio and Vanuatu coconut pecan — and vibrant packaging, jcoco bars stand out from the crowd. They stand out in another way, too: With each purchase of a jcoco product, Seattle Chocolates donates a fresh, healthy serving of food to someone in need.

One more example of how chocolate is more than just treat.