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Chance meeting of chocolatiers leads to new downtown business

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Broad appeal: Suzanne Litteral's chocolate treats range from the traditional to vegan. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)
Broad appeal: Suzanne Litteral's chocolate treats range from the traditional to vegan. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

Fancy chocolates: 'We just struck a chord,' Jayne Hoadley said of her chance meeting with fellow chocolatier Suzanne Litteral.
Fancy chocolates: 'We just struck a chord,' Jayne Hoadley said of her chance meeting with fellow chocolatier Suzanne Litteral.

GREENFIELD —  Jayne Hoadley and Suzanne Litteral have cooked up a pretty sweet business deal in downtown Greenfield, and for those who’ve sworn off chocolate for the New Year, walking down Main Street could be an exercise in resisting temptation.

Now known as the Greenfield Chocolates building, the storefront at 15 W. Main St. is home to a cooperative venture between Hoadley’s J. Evelyn Confections and Litteral’s Litterally Divine Toffee and Truffles.

The doors opened on the chocolate production shop and retail front with last year’s Riley Festival, and after a few short months business continues to grow.

Both women began dabbling in chocolate as amateurs nearly 20 years ago, and both took the dive into professional chocolatiering about five years ago.

Hoadley, who was in need of a commercial kitchen to continue her business, ran into Litteral at a farmers market, and the two immediately connected.

“We just struck a chord,” Hoadley said.  “I asked Suzanne, ‘do you think we could coexist?’”

Litteral and Hoadley make their sweets by hand using their own equipment in the shared back shop production area and sell the separately wrapped and branded candies out front in a common retail area.  

Merging the two operations has worked well, they say, but the joint effort has presented a few challenges that require ongoing attention.

“We want our customers to have a seamless experience when they come in,” Hoadley said.  “We had to work through some interesting hurdles, and we think through those things all the time in terms of how is this going to affect the customer.”

Hoadley has been named an Indiana artisan for her craftsmanship with chocolate and Litteral specializes in vegan candy creations.

“I have a lot of friends who are vegan, and I noticed there was not a whole lot out there for them,” she said.

To that end, Litteral produces vegan toffee and truffles, but says her best-selling item is her non-vegan almond toffee offering.

She tries as much as possible to source her ingredients from local farms and producers, she said.

Hoadley crafts her truffles, toffee and caramels from Swiss, Belgian and French chocolates, and both women change their inventories seasonally.

   All the candies produced at their shop are handmade and all natural with no preservatives, they said.

   In addition to the storefront downtown, Hoadley and Litteral sell across a variety of platforms, which keeps sales steady and eases the pressure on any single outlet.

  Both businesses have a web presence and each has a unique customer base and outlet to reach them.

  A good deal of Litteral’s candies are sold at farmers markets in Indianapolis, and she has several wholesale and retail outlets with area restaurants and stores.

Hoadley has established relationships with several corporate clients and also utilizes a business-to-business model to bolster her retail sales.

A hospital, for example, will contract with Hoadley to sell directly to its customers, with a percentage of the retail sales going back to the hospital as a donation, Hoadley said.

Not only has the cross-platform selling been good for their own business, Hoadley and Litteral say they’ve been drawing customers from their outlying base into downtown, which is a boon for everyone in the historic district.

“We think Greenfield Chocolates has been a beautiful addition to Greenfield,” Hoadley said.

Chocolate lovers need to remember, however, these products might be a bit more expensive than the standard, dime-store variety box of chocolates.

Handmade chocolate is a very labor-intensive process.

“The amount of hours that go into large, non-commercial (candy) kitchen is tremendous,” Hoadley said.

So though there might be a bit of initial sticker shock, Hoadley insists “we are a very affordable luxury.”

Both operations are essentially zero-line businesses, with everything funded by cash flow.

Hoadley started her business in September 2008, and by Christmas the initial capital investment was paid off. Litteral follows the same business model, she said.

“We’d rather have slow growth than failure,” Hoadley said.

With both women engaged primarily in production. Regular shop hours generally run from noon to 7 p.m., Wednesdays through Fridays.

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