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At Vivere, it’s about making chocolates ‘to live for’

Personal touches key to Hackettstown company’s growth

Robert Bowden, founder and owner of Vivere’ Chocolates, puts a hand-written ‘thank you’ in every box he sells.

In English, Vivere means “to live.”
In Hackettstown? It means one-of-a-kind chocolates worth living for.

Just ask founder and owner Robert Bowden, who sold out of Vivere’s artisan, handmade chocolates before the company’s official opening last September.

“It’s chocolate,” Bowden said. “It sold itself!”

Of course, chocolate sells best during Halloween, Christmas and Easter.

But while Vivere just celebrated a $4,000 sales week during Valentine’s Day weekend alone, it’s this chocolate company’s business model that has it thriving and exceeding sales expectations in a typically seasonal industry.

“Be where the customer is,” Bowden said. “I don’t limit our business to the local circuit — there are plenty of people to miss!”

The chocolate industry, as Bowden has learned, forces its players to be more creative in order to grow. And with just four employees (including partner Benjamin Schroder), Vivere is no exception.

So, in addition to selling online and in stores, Bowden attends nationwide hospitality conferences, private events and public exhibitions to create “pop-up” chocolate experiences at gatherings such as wine tastings and gallery openings.

“Whatever the venue may be, you’ll never have that particular experience again,” Bowden said.

Odds are, you’ll never taste chocolate like Vivere’s again, either.

Devoid of preservatives and artificial flavors, Vivere’s made-to-order chocolates range from $5 for its chocolate-covered whisks (for making hot chocolate) to $45 for its award-winning, best-selling 12-piece box of salted fennel caramels dusted with gold.

Meg Fry