Chocolate has been my favorite food for as long as I can remember. To this day, I would rather have one good piece of chocolate than anything else. That is why I started making my own chocolate and hoped that others would share my taste for handmade, European-style chocolates.
Growing up in former Yugoslavia, now Croatia, chocolate was a luxury. My earliest memory of chocolate was when I went to Sunday school and the priest had a small, wafer-thin chocolate bar to share with the youngest children. My sweet tooth came from my father, who always had candy hidden in his car. Of course, I would search and search until I found all of the chocolate.
The Early Years
In 1987, I visited my aunt and uncle in New York City and immediately knew I wanted to live in this country. The opportunities seemed endless. I returned home to finish college, but all I kept thinking about was how to return to a place where I could actually have my own chocolate store. The idea was exhilarating and by age 24, I had earned enough money to buy a ticket to America.
I started working at a candy store in New York that resold chocolates and candies, but I always knew that the chocolates could taste better. I began experimenting at home and just kept working until I developed my unique blend. One summer, when I visited my relatives in Cleveland, I unexpectedly fell in love and decided to stay here. My future husband, John, understood my passion. I wanted to make great chocolate and I already had a name for my store: Sweet Designs Chocolatier.
The Dream Begins
In December 1995, Sweet Designs Chocolatier opened in a small corner store on Madison Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. I continued to perfect my recipes for chocolate. Fortunately, my customers loved it and I loved making all of them. We now offer over 80 different chocolates, from truffles and hand-dipped fruit to nut clusters and caramels.
My chocolates are out of this world...literally! They have actually been enjoyed in space by NASA astronauts on the Space Shuttle.
After 10 years of making chocolate, I needed a larger location to make even more great chocolate, so I designed my own European Chocolaterie on Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio.
Few things give you the pure enjoyment of great chocolate. The wonderful aroma, the smooth rich texture, and the incomparable taste all combine to make great chocolate one of life's truly satisfying experiences. I hope that you enjoy eating my chocolates as much as I enjoy making them!
Celebrate life with chocolate!
Ines Rehner, Master Chocolatier