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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Milène Jardine, Founder and CEO of Milène Jardine Chocolatier Our Coverage Sponsored by Fresh Origins

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Milène Jardine is the founder and CEO of Milene Jardine Chocolatier.  Her passion for creating desserts started as early as she could pick up a cookbook and hand mix sugar into butter. She still remembers the excitement from her first visit to Fauchon on Place de Madeleine as a child. The exquisite display of confections and pastries inspired her to try new recipes and techniques. Her family was supportive of her baking projects, which quickly became holiday favorites. Milène evolved her love of desserts into a small business ten years ago by making chocolate favors, platters, and centerpieces for parties. At the same time, her business skills were developed through her extensive travel and intense training at Macy’s renowned Private Label Fashion Headquarters. 

From an intern to Product Director at Macy’s Merchandising Group, Milène oversaw the development of numerous successful brands. She enjoyed learning both analytical and creative functions as well as international travel to factories in Asia/Africa and trend research in Europe. Extending these trips to personally explore diverse cities and meet inspirational people made her happy. The journeys introduced her to fresh foods and alluring cultures that she incorporated into new dessert recipes. By early 2016, Milène decided to dedicate her time to building her own brand Milène Jardine Chocolatier that aligns with her lifelong fervor for confections and travel. 

Transitioning from her corporate career to starting a new business was one of the most exciting and challenging changes of Milène’s life. She quickly surrounded herself with a network of entrepreneurs and advisors to support her. The experience from her past career helped her find a production facility, source custom packaging, align with key vendors/partners, and sell her first chocolate truffle collection “Live by Love” to business accounts for their customer gifting strategies and events. To better understand the dynamics of working in a commercial kitchen and large scale production, Milène enrolled in The International Culinary Institute’s chocolate workshop. 

Developing the finished product, from the recipes to the packaging, was the most stimulating aspect for Milène. Each flavor was created to retell her favorite travel stories by taking the customer on a journey to a different continent and experiencing a new flavor in life. The styling embodies a modern elegance with a presentation that is simple yet sophisticated. Channeling the power of the west with the compassion of the east, the brand celebrates the beauty and wisdom from both hemispheres. The hope is to spread happiness, unite cultures, and inspire a world to "Live by Love" with each truffle. 

Since launching in November 2016, Milène is thrilled to have built an online shop and service elite businesses such as Spinelli Kilcollin, Roger Vivier, and Fly Victor Private Jets. The chocolates provide companies with a unique gift to connect with their clients, build a relationship, and say thank you for their patronage. In addition to growing sales, Milène believes in the value of sharing her experience as a female entrepreneur to encourage others to follow their passions in life. Growing up, she was not familiar with the opportunities around owning a small business. From podcasts to interviews and school visits, she is eager to spread this knowledge and support more women in business.  We are so happy to present Milène Jardine as our newest Mover and Shaker.  Peachy Deegan interviwed Milène for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
What is your first chocolate creation ever and what do you remember about it? 
Milène Jardine: 
As a child, I fell in love with the Friendly's Watermelon Roll that I decided to reinterpret as a sugar cookie. I used food dye to get a pink dough, green sprinkles for the edges, and chocolate chips to replicate the seeds. I was so proud of this creation. 

What is your first professional chocolate creation and how did you build upon it? 
 Chocolate truffles for the company I started 10 years ago called Sweet n Petite. Since then my technique, presentation and flavor combinations have improved. Molds replaced the hand dipped method providing a more professional look, infusion with natural herbs instead of flavored oils gives a more authentic taste, and rebranding with custom designed packaging elevates the product. 

Please tell us what you remember most about Fauchon on Place de Madeleine from your childhood. 
The vast assortment of elegant and colorful confections were visually stunning, reminding me of a fairytale. Every detail from the store signage, facade and packaging repeated the stylized pink and black branding that make Fauchon iconic. 

How did your career at Macy’s begin and what did you learn most from it? 
What would surprise most people about Macy’s? 
I started as a product intern during my junior year college of college and gained experience in international business, learned the art of negotiating, and developed an eye for style. Macy's has offices in Asia and Europe to help with sourcing production. 

What do you prefer about being an entrepreneur over being part of a large corporation? 
I enjoy the freedom, fast pace, and creativity. 

What future plans do you have for your chocolate brand? 
Expand into ice cream based desserts and pastries grounded in chocolate. Open locations in New York, Paris and Tokyo. 

What do you know about small business that you wish you knew ten years ago? 
The amount of work it takes to create and manage a successful company. 

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence? 
Happiness. Reflecting on my life, making desserts has always brought me joy. The opportunity to turn my passion into my career drives me everyday. 

What are you proudest of and why? 
The courage to pursue my dreams because it was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
Collaborate with top chefs like Dominique Ansel. 

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
Top Engaging Leader (2014 & 2015) 
Best Results for a New Brand under $100 million (2014) 
Top Fundraiser (2013) 
Top Performing Results (2009) 
Team Project Award (2004) 

What one word best describes you and why? 
Tenacious. It takes a lot to deter me from a goal. I performed in a ballet on a broken foot, traveled to Egypt alone to secure production, and worked on a chocolate order the day after breaking a rib from a climbing accident. 

What do you take your sense of identity from? 
 My life’s major influences: family, baking, dance, travel, and fashion. 

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
 Chelsea Piers 

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? 
I’d like to work with Richard Branson to better understand his mindset and learn from his experiences. 

What is your favorite drink? 
Whisky on the rocks 

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party? 
2 wedding propositions in one evening from men more than twice my age. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 
 Nora Ephron 

Who would you like to be for a day and why? 
 Willy Wonka. It would be so much fun to explore and work in that factory. 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? 
Section of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I’d like to give back to a place that supports the arts and has brought me peace over countless visits. 

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
High school in-door track meets in Harlem. 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
I can travel around the world in one evening with the vast diversity of ethnicities and cultures present. 

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
Mary Magdalene. My name is derived from her and I’d like to better understand her story. 

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
Watching LL Cool J record a new album. 

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
Support women in business. 

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? 
Underrated - Indian Deli on 9th avenue between 20th and 21st Street 
Overrated - street pretzel 

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite​ column and what do you like about it? 
Peachy’s Pantry. It’s filled with fresh foods and chocolates. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I value mindfulness and mediation. I meditate every morning to help prepare me for the day. 

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? 

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