Truffles: You were previously a social worker and have your Master’s in Social Work. A big change from your former position?
Maria: I thank my lucky stars for Sweet Designs every night. There’s a real family atmosphere here, Ines is a great boss and it’s amazing how happy chocolate makes people. I leave here with a smile on my face every day. I kind of apply my social work degree here – getting to know our customers and hearing their stories is most rewarding.
Truffles: What’s the hardest part of managing the store?
Maria: Probably staying away from the candies. I came in here a pants-size smaller and I vowed to myself that I’m not going to go up one more pants-size. It’s staying away from the candy. You’re surrounded by deliciousness. Once you’ve had Sweet Designs, you can’t easily go back to Hershey’s or Snickers.
Truffles: What’s your favorite chocolate?
Maria: My favorite chocolate treat? I can’t say “all of them”, can I? I would have to say milk chocolate peanut butter cups. Those are my favorites. I can’t look at a “Reese’s” the same anymore. I can’t look at any candy the same any more.
Truffles: Any big surprises in your first six months?
Maria: Just how seriously people take their chocolate. Very seriously. That’s the biggest surprise that I’ve had so far. People know what they want and how they want it. They know their order. It’s cool that we can offer that kind of customer experience where they know we’re going to do our best to give them what they want.
Even though customers can’t currently come into the store because of COVID, we try to make their visits a very special experience. When we open the door, they say “it smells so good in there.”
Truffles: Best part of your job?
Maria: My favorite parts are seeing my co-workers blossom. It’s amazing to see how they grow as they become part of the Sweet Designs family and I really enjoy decorating the store for the holidays. And, of course, I love, love, love interacting with customers.
Truffles: What do you to unwind from SD?
Maria: My family and I love to go camping. We go to Hocking Hills – that’s my favorite place - beautiful, beautiful! I really like being outdoors and we’re recently started taking part in the MetroParks Challenge.