story by Stephanie Cardozo photos by Paul Nurnberg
Joy King lives a “sweet” life in true form. Originally from Rhode Island, she moved here and has now called Beaufort home for over forty-one years. She lives here with her husband, her children, her sister, her nephew and his family. Having her family close to her brings great happiness to Joy, especially because she has the ability to share the success of the Chocolate Tree alongside them.
The Chocolate Tree first opened its doors in 1980. Before their delicious treats made their way to the shop, Joy’s sister, Pat Green, first started making chocolate candies as a hobby from their home. With help from friends, they would give away samples of their treats and soon began selling candy-making kits. Teaching chocolate lovers, like themselves, to make delicious sweets flourished far quicker than they imagined. Pat Green later opened a small shop to sell supplies and soon they realized that they had to expand. “Basically, it just snowballed from there.”
Enthusiastically, Joy speaks of her sister’s dream of opening the Chocolate Tree. “My sister opened the store thirty-seven years ago and I was the first employee,” she says with much pride. She has helped, from the very beginning, in the blooming of the chocolate candy-making business.
“I started working at the front. I’ve done just about every job that can be done in the store. I ran the production for a long time. Now my nephew runs the production while I oversee everything from ordering and booking to maintaining the sales floor,” she shares.
Proving she can just about run the business with her eyes closed, how does she achieve a work-life balance as a business owner? “It gets crazy sometimes, during the holidays it can get pretty wild. I work anywhere from twelve to fourteen hours a day. My kids are all grown, so they’re used to it. They worked here part-time when they were in school, so they understand what it takes to get the job done,” she adds.
Having her family close, as well as working the business with each of them at one point or another, really seems to have helped balance Joy. She never really feels like what she is doing is actual work, but instead, an environment that is invigorating. Making people smile by providing them with home-made decadent chocolates is a huge part of what keeps Joy’s passion and drive running high.
When she thinks back to what lead her to success with the Chocolate Tree, she humbly answers, “Well, it’s a little bit of everything. I learned from my sister and grew along-side her.” As for the business, they both put so much hard work and time into it. “One of the best things we ever did was join the Retail Confectioners International, which just celebrated their hundredth year. We are still a part of that organization and Pat is a past president and I served on the board. It’s a loving group that share and help. So any time situations arise, they are always there to give you information and suggestions and point you in the right direction. So, it really is a little bit of everything,” she explains wholeheartedly.
The Retail Confectioners International is reputable organization that provides confectioners with reliable sources, networking and ever flowing suggestions in order to see their clients and business with success.
A woman in business, even the “sweet” kind, needs to have a team that works alongside her and continues to do what is beneficial to the business, as well as providing the best service and quality products to their customers.
It all began with a small idea in a South Carolina home that burst with growth and became the thriving business it is today, the Chocolate Tree. Joy says, “It is family dynamics, working hard and a collaboration of the environment we’re in…and the community that embraced us.”
Looking at what could have gotten the Chocolate Tree this far, she joyfully expresses, “Well, it could be that everybody loves chocolate.” She laughs and continues, “Somebody once told me that nine out of ten people love chocolate and the tenth person just lies.”
Joy’s light and bubbly spirit ties perfectly in the candy-making business, “It’s just a fun business. People come in for happy occasions and the town has really made it their own. On Saturdays, parents come in with their kids from a week at school with good behavior for a treat. It’s just a really neat place to work, because it doesn’t really feel like work.”
Joy’s advice for those looking to go into the candy-making business is, “You have got to do something you enjoy. It gets crazy sometimes, but I would just say, perseverance and hard work go a long way.”
All you chocolate lovers should stop by and meet Joy and her staff…it is sure to be a “sweet” adventure.