“If you believe in whatever it is you are doing, don’t give up, keep pursuing it. The only way to succeed is to continue and to believe in your product. One step always leads to another. Many days and many times you may want to give up before you succeed and you say why did I get myself into this? A lot of people give up just about when they are about to make it. You are so tired and you just give up. I’ve been there many times, but then somebody comes and says: Your chocolate is so delicious! And this is the motivation that keeps me going.” –Chiqui Berg
For those that know and love the movie Chocolat, this real-life story is for you. I met a woman the other day that has the same passion, love, and kindness that we witness in Vionne Rocher of Chocolat. Both of these women prove their passion not only for making a sweet delicacy, but also in spreading their joy onto others. According to Chiqui, this is really what keeps her business and enthusiasm strong.
Colombia native Chiqui Berg, the chocolatier behind the Chiqui’s Chocolates, lives in Pengilly, MN, where she has been for ten years. Chiqui states, “Love brought me here.” She moved to Minnesota when she met and fell in love with her husband Bart, and the rest is history.
Chiqui did not always make candy. The first time she got interested in even making caramel was when her daughter came to visit her in Pengilly. Chiqui wanted her daughter to try these unique chocolate turtles that are sold right in town. Sadly for the women, the store was closed, but thankfully for us, this sparked Chiqui’s creativity. This was the beginning of what we presently know as Chiqui’s Chocolates.
Chiqui wanted to do all she could to give her daughter a taste of the delicious turtle that the people of Pengilly raved about. After experimenting some with her daughter the taste was perfect, but the texture and consistency were off. When her daughter went back home, Chiqui made caramels every single day for the next eight months in order get her recipe exact in every way. Each batch Chiqui made led to her understanding of the precise conditions the caramel needed, depending on the time of year and humidity influences that can occur.
Chiqui then sent her caramels to friends and relatives to get feedback on the products, which also allowed her to test out how her product shipped. What more was there to do? It was perfect! Well, Chiqui’s daughter was so delighted that she designed a logo in order to jumpstart the company. The next step was a website. Chiqui had a designer and local Hibbing, MN native, Tony Vitali, create a beautiful website for her. The support was endless from every direction. Chiqui says, “What got my business going was the local people who started to pay attention and want to help me sell it.” She says if it hadn’t been for them, she would not be where she is with her business today.
Who Chiqui credits most of her work to? Her husband, Bart. “Without him I could not have gotten even close to where I am. He is the business part and I am the creative part. It really is the perfect combination because then we do it together,” Chiqui says.
In the words of Chiqui Berg: “I have a passion and I truly believe in my product.” Well the proof is in the pudding. Or in this case, in the caramel, the chocolate, and beyond.
To continue this trend of support, visit the website or go to the nearest location where you can sample Chiqui’s Chocolates for yourself. The locations in Minnesota where you can find Chiqui’s Chocolates are:
- Hibbing, MN at the Gift Nook in the Fairview Hospital and Sunrise Bakery
- Virginia, MN at Ben Franklin Crafts
- Pengilly, MN at Iron Country Traders ; Mr. Roberts Restaurant ; and Lakeview Bait & Liquor
- Nashwaulk, MN at Fred’s
- Grand Rapids, MN at Something Original
A very big Thank You to Patty Miller for the possibility and direction of this piece!