Meet Karalee LaRochelle, the founder and creative at LaRochelle Confections, a fine chocolate shop based in Toronto, Canada and our latest brand partner for a custom furoshiki wrap.
What is your mission as a company?
My mission is pretty simple - spreading a little joy through chocolate! Truly, though, I want everyone to experience the satisfaction of eating fine chocolate with no additives or preservatives versus the candy bars most people refer to as chocolate. Chocolate is one of life's little luxuries. I want you to savour it. Buy it like you would a grocery item, to consume within a week or two - don't stash it away in your pantry. One of my mantras is "fine chocolate should be savoured not saved" - it's a bit of a mindshift for most people.
What is unique about LaRochelle Confections?
I think one of the things that sets LaRochelle Confections apart is the integrity of the product. Chocolate in its pure form is so beautiful and I really want the quality of my ingredients to shine. So I don't try to hide the chocolate behind trendy made-for-instagram colour applications or by adding shellac to make tumbled pieces shine. I also think people are drawn to our packaging. Just like our products, there's a simple elegance to it. The term of the year has been "quiet luxury" and this is a principle I've always been drawn to and it shows in our package design. People are often surprised to learn that my business is a one-woman-show. So I guess that's pretty unique - I manage all aspects of the business. My background before becoming a pastry chef and chocolatier was in business, so even though I consider myself a creative person, I do approach everything with a bit of that business pragmatism.
What is your creative process?
My creativity is sparked daily by just getting out in the world. I'm a naturally curious person and I can find beauty in pretty much anything. That said, most of the confections or chocolate bars I create start with a name or idea I want to portray with chocolate through flavour and texture. It could be a travel memory, an interesting food combo at a restaurant or me just wanting to capture what's in season.
Do you have any tips or practises to share with people who are making the lifestyle shift towards zero-waste and sustainable practices?
I adopt the philosophy "every little bit counts" when it comes to this lifestyle shift. I think the easiest way to adapt is to choose an area that's important or meaningful to you and work from there. If you're into fashion, that may mean shopping second hand or participating in clothing swaps. I'm a foodie, so I focus on ways I can reduce waste in the kitchen. I cook everyday and minimizing food waste is very important to me. I love a good leftover challenge - where I have to use up all the little bits in the fridge to create a decent family meal. I take my lunch to work most days and at home, we have a great set of glass reusable containers that are in constant rotation. For groceries, we've been using our own bags for many years. It's also about the types of food you choose to buy - shopping locally-made or farmed food whenever possible and increasing the amount of plant-based options in our diet are part of this.
Tell us a bit about the custom artwork created for this furoshiki wrap
The artwork created for this furoshiki wrap was created by Studio Millie, with whom I've worked hand-in-hand for the past few years on the visual elements of my brand. They are always able to bring my creative vision to life! I wanted a design that paired well with the simple elegance of our packaging. The pattern incorporates cocoa beans and scrolling line elements that form heart-like shapes to represent the love and care that goes into everything I create. A beautiful design where our logo isn't the focal point. That's why the LAROCHELLE wordmark is only found on 2 of the 4 corners; it allows you to reuse the furoshiki as a scarf or to wrap another gift without it screaming "this is branded merchandise!"
How did you come to work with Wrappr and what is the highlight of collaborating with Wrappr for you?
I've had my eye on Wrappr for a couple years now because I knew this was a gifting concept I wanted to share with my customers. I was familiar with the furoshiki tradition used in Japan and I have a Korean friend who introduced me to their own fabric wrapping tradition using a similar wrapping technique using what they call bojagi. There is something so special about receiving a gift that has been carefully wrapped in a beautiful piece of cloth instead of paper that is destined for the recycling bin. I love that the furoshiki can be reused in so many ways.
Brittany made the whole ordering process so easy and seamless. She completely understood what I was trying to achieve and was able to address any questions I had related to fabric selection and sizing.
What is your favourite way to style a furoshiki wrap?
I love using a furoshiki to wrap a bundle of bars and leaving a little pocket where I can slide in a handwritten note card. And my favourite way to repurpose the furoshiki is as a neckerchief. When it comes to my personal style, I've never been one to shy away from adding a little flare!