Peace comes in many forms — a lack of conflict, a sense of calmness, or peace of mind, for example. A peaceful life allows you and your community to thrive and live without worries. However, many places don't experience peace. They live in fear and uncertainty about what comes next. War, family matters, personal struggles — so many things can take away peace from you.
Losing peace is what the Hadhad family went through. In this second episode of our Christmas stories, Susan Morrison shares the story of Peace By Chocolate. A business founded by Syrian immigrants, they had lost everything and found a place to rebuild their peace. Now, Peace By Chocolate works hard to give the gift of peace back to the world one piece of chocolate at a time. Whether that means peace of mind with a chocolate bar or financial security for its workers, they're making it happen.
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From PR to Pastries
Susan Morrison worked in Public Relations for a long time before training to become a pastry chef. Working with pastries and chocolate became her creative outlet and opened the door to the business side of the food industry. Susan opened a store with Tareq Hadhad and was able to combine her passion for food, chocolate, and business in Peace By Chocolate.
Chocolate, the Food of Peace
“Why not chocolate? Chocolate's the food of love, right?” is Susan’s answer to the role of chocolate in spreading the business’ message of peace.
Chocolate has always been a part of the Hadhad family’s history. They’ve been running a chocolate factory for over 30 years until it was bombed in 2012 during the Syrian war. The Hadhad experienced war up close and understood the value of peace. Their struggles and experiences shaped how they viewed life.
“That really is their philosophy in life. They understand how quickly you can lose peace and how fragile it can be. So they took their expertise as chocolate makers, and made the decision to promote peace; the only way they knew how was through chocolate.”
They started building their message of peace in the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia. The community helped them rebuild their business. Today, the Hadhad Family gives back by working and giving proceeds to different organizations and communities that work toward peace.
Rebuilding the Business
The community of Antigonish gave them the love and support they needed to get started. From selling chocolates at the farmer's market, Peace By Chocolate became known for the story of their journey. Today, they have a thousand stores all across the country and working towards exporting their products again. With each piece of chocolate they sell, they share their story of experiencing war and rebuilding peace.
Peace By Chocolate stands out with their high-quality chocolate and their unique branding. It reinforces their journey and message of creating peace. Their chocolate products are part of the whole experience when you go to their stores. As Susan said, "Our branding makes us stand out from your regular everyday candy bars…You go into the store for an experience, and chocolate happens to be part of that experience.”
The People Behind Each Bar of Chocolate
Susan and the Hadhad Family will always have their roots in Antigonish. However, like any other business, Peace By Chocolate aims to grow and spread beyond their current borders. They continue partnering with more and more companies and expert individuals to help them reach this goal.
The Hiring Process
As a business founded by refugees, Peace by Chocolate wants to help people in the same situation to succeed. They hire as many refugees as they can and work together to help them through the complicated hiring process, including assistance in the following:
Creating a settlement plan
Working with local agencies for housing and language training
Having an endorsed job offer
As a company certified to hire refugees and immigrants, they are responsible for the people they bring in. They understand that their workers need peace of mind too.
The Training Process
Training them is part of how they can help refugees earn a living wage and find support in the community. Training includes finding a common language and making it work despite each person's different backgrounds.
The Hadhad Family understands the challenges of learning, so they try to make things as easy as possible for everyone.
The Gift of Giving Peace
Giving back to the community is one of the Hadhad family's main goals, which they accomplish through Peace By Chocolate's many programs and products. Their wide variety of chocolate bars in the Gifts that Give program funds different partnered non-profit organizations and communities in need.
Peace By Chocolates isn't only about promoting peace amidst war. According to Susan, “There are all different kinds of peace that we promote. Not just peace of mind, but peace of body as well. And peace also comes with safety and with mental health, and we'd like to promote that as well.”
Come and get your own "peace" of chocolate at their store in Halifax or various gift shops across Canada and the United States. Living in another country? You can also get their products shipped to you. Check out their website and learn more about their story on the Peace By the Chocolate website.
Susan Morrison is the Director of Business Operations of Peace By Chocolate. Her work combines her passion for creativity, food, and business. With over 25 years of experience, Susan has worked in multiple fields, from Public Relations to product development and the food industry. She uses her skills to help the business succeed and spread its message of peace in every piece of chocolate.
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