Emma Smith started off making raw vegan chocolate in her Vancouver home and selling it at small farmers markets.
Now, after operating her small business for just a year, the 23-year-old owner of Zimt Artisan Chocolates has her confections in several stores and dreams of going international.
Smith told the Georgia Straight that her chocolate is not only raw, vegan, organic, and fair trade, but it also tastes great.
“It’s everything good encompassing chocolate, if I may say so myself,” the self-taught chocolatier and Dunbar resident said by phone. “It’s completely ethical. It’s delicious. It’s healthy. It’s conscious. It’s a good product, and it’s made with a lot of love.”
Incorporated in February 2011, Zimt produces nine kinds of chocolate bars and a 16-piece truffle box, which are now made in a commercial kitchen. Smith’s favourite flavours are the Salt of the Earth Chocolate, the Coconut Crisp, and the Kaffee Chocolate.
In B.C.’s Lower Mainland, Zimt chocolates can be found at three Whole Foods Market locations; Greens Natural and Organic Market, Indigo Food Café, Loving Hut Express, Nice Shoes, and Skye’s Nut Heaven in Vancouver; and Karmavore Vegan Shop in New Westminster. As well, Sarah’s Place in Victoria carries the company’s products.
According to Smith, her confections are also available on the Zimt website and are coming soon to East Vancouver’s Health on the Drive, but she is looking beyond Canada’s borders for future growth. She’s begun hiring people to help with chocolate-making and packaging.
“I would actually really like to bring it to Asia and Europe, specifically,” she said.
Smith, who graduated from the University of British Columbia last year with a bachelor of commerce degree, started up her business thinking it was “high time” that Vancouver had a local brand of raw chocolate. She decided to make all her products vegan, organic, and fair trade because such ethical issues have been “near and dear” to her for a long time.
As Smith recalled, when she was a tween, she read the back of a lip-balm package and noticed the product hadn’t been tested on animals. From there, she learned about animal rights and eventually went vegan. So, Zimt does not use any animal ingredients, such as cow’s milk and honey, and sweetens its chocolate with diabetic-friendly coconut nectar.
“People often don’t know that pure chocolate is vegan,” Smith said. “They always think that it has to have some sort of milk ingredient. But that’s really more of a filler.”
Last year, Zimt was a vendor at Veg Fest Vancouver and the Taste of Health vegetarian fair. Although it’s a “little operation”, Smith noted running Zimt involves working “more than full-time”. But she insisted she’s happy to do it, and is looking forward to expanding her company and product line.
“I really care about the animals, and I want to make sure that anything I do to make money for myself and to offer people is compassionate to everybody,” Smith said.