by Austin Johnson
February 03, 2016
Tap recently had the chance to chat with Sarah Dwyer, the owner, designer, and “chocolatiére” at Chouquette. Dwyer has been using Tap’s stock confection packaging to market and sell her one-of-a-kind Parisian inspired chocolates that she crafts out of her commercial kitchen in Bethesda, Maryland.
Sarah Dwyer, owner, designer, and “chocolatiére” at Chouquette
TAP: Where did Chouquette come from?
SD: “I moved to Paris for a year after a career in banking and attended the Le Cordon Bleu pastry diploma program. I realized that Americans were loving Europeans truffles for a long time, but they didn’t understand that caramel could be just as good as truffles. Most people think that caramels are just for kids, but they’re not – they’re like a little black dress! My goal was to bring the European style caramel to America. They’re flavorful but not chewy. Caramel is always the first thing I go to in a box of chocolates.”
TAP: Where did you come up with the name “Chouquette?”
SD: “It was inspired by Paris. The French call other people ‘little cabbages,’ or ‘petite chou.’ It’s a term of endearment, but it’s also a pastry that’s like a French donut hole. It’s one of the first things that you learn to make in pastry school. I realized that my neighbor in Paris was calling her little boy chouquette, and it just kind of stuck with me. It’s something special, but it also could mean anything to me. It’s like my ‘sweet treat.’”
TAP: Could you tell us an example of how Chouquette created its brand identity?
SD: “I began tying my packages with bows because I just think that handmade chocolates deserve a hand tied bow. And I think that I’ve always wanted something that’s feminine and whimsical without being super princess girly, while trying to have a little bit of modernity. If you took Marie Antoinette into this age, I hope that she would buy my chocolates. Even if it doesn’t show, there’s always a little bit of French inspiration.”
TAP: How does Chouquette use Tap’s stock confection packaging to enhance its branding and selling strategy?
SD: “I use black triangle totes with gold lettering to match my chocolates that have gold lettering on them. I also use the two piece brown and white wine hangers, and a number of different colored and patterned single truffle totes. One time I hung the truffle totes on a Christmas tree and customers were able to pick out their own chocolates from the tree.
I think the people initially will buy chocolates because of cute packing. You could get an initial order if your packaging looks great, but my chocolates have to live up to however beautiful or cute my packaging is. You don’t want to date someone who is just beautiful; you have to be beautiful on the inside too. I think of it as getting a ‘first date’ by having cute packaging. But I get ‘long term relationships’ with customers from what I put inside the box.”
TAP: What’s your best advice on brand marketing through packaging?
SD: “In general I would say start small. I think the reason that Chouquette is still in business is because I did start small. I was really careful in what I spent money on in the beginning. I started with stock packaging and added my own paper sleeve around it. That was one of the great things about having stock packaging available from Tap – it looks nice but you can also put your own twist on it. I think that Tap’s packaging can be used in so many different ways that customizing inexpensively using Tap’s stock line until you’re ready to go truly custom is probably the best advice I could give somebody.”
Chouquette chocolates inside Tap’s two piece brown wine hanger
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