It’s almost Mother’s Day,
so I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce you all to a very hardworking, Jupiter Mom! Valerie Herskowitz is the owner of the Chocolate Spectrum in Jupiter Florida. She works very hard to help her son and others, with developmental disabilities, through chocolate. Read the interview below and get to know her and her mission.
Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Valerie Herskowitz and I am the owner and founder of The Chocolate Spectrum in Jupiter Florida, an artisan chocolate company and store. Our mission is to employ and train adults with developmental disabilities. I’ve lived in South Florida my entire life (I will not tell you how many years that is!). I did have a brief two-year time where I lived in Massachusetts, but it was way too cold for a southern girl like myself. I have two children named Hunter and Blake. Hunter, it is a 27-year-old man who lives in Orlando, Florida. He is a behavior analyst and works in the autism field. Blake, is a chocolatier in our business. He is 26 and has severe autism. I also have two amazing step kids name Seth and Daniel. And a terrific little grandson named Samuel. And I’m also blessed with an amazing daughter-in-law name Poom. We don’t have nay pets. Blake, like many other individuals with autism, has allergies to all animals.
When did you start your business?
The Chocolate Spectrum started in 2013. Two forces in the universe came together. First one was the fact that my son Blake had absolutely nothing to do after high school. Although I looked for programs for him for two years before, I came up with nothing. Coincidentally, at the same time, I had gotten involved in pastry arts and chocolate making, as I had semi retired from my speech therapy practice. We started making pastries and chocolates for friends and family but soon the word got out and we developed an online business as well as a business selling at shows. Other young men and women with similar issues that my son had joined us in the kitchen and in the business. Eventually two of them were hired as employees. Then in the middle of 2016, we moved into our own brick and mortar shop in Jupiter Florida.
What are the major influences for your business? What made you choose chocolate?
As we are a social enterprise and the major influence of our business is our mission, which is to train individuals with autism. We do serve the rest of the community as we have training and classes for everyone as well as the opportunity for people to have parties at our shop. I picked chocolate, as I mentioned before, because it was just a coincidence and Blake seem to really enjoy working with it.
What do you find most challenging about running your own business?
This business presents many challenges, especially for an individual like myself who is older. Also I have many other responsibilities in my life such as teaching at the University, taking care of my father, and of course taking care of Blake. Therefore the biggest challenge I have is time, which I absolutely do not have enough of!
What is the most rewarding thing about running your company?
There are many rewarding factors about this business first of all, most importantly, my son, Blake, has a job six days a week. Without this business, he would be sitting at home watching TV. But it is also just as rewarding to be able to offer the same opportunities in the form of paid employment to the other individuals that work here as well as recreational activities for many others who have autism and other related developmental disabilities.
Can you share a little bit with us about your involvement with Autism Community?
I have and continue to be extremely involved in the autism community. In 1999 My husband and I started a nonprofit called National Autism Registry. Through the years, we have offered many community activities for individuals with autism as well as for the family. My business itself is a community activity. I do not take a salary or any form of compensation and therefore it is also part of my community involvement.
What do you like to do on your days off?
I seriously do not have any days off yet, as this is a seven day a week business. If I do have a couple of hours on the weekend. I hope to share it with my family and to take care of my father who is quite elderly. I do hope as the years go on that I will get some time off, LOL.
What living person, other than family members, do you most admire?
I have two groups of individuals that I admire the first one is the D’Eri Family at Rising Tide Carwash down in Broward County. They are the individuals that started the ball rolling on employment options for adults with autism and they have been amazing mentors toward me. In addition, my dear friend Bonnie Schmidt, The founder of ScentsAbility Candles is also someone I admire greatly. She is doing a similar venture with candles also down in Broward.
Where can we find The Chocolate Spectrum online?
Our website at www.thechocolatespectrum.com. You can shop on our website at shop.TheChocolateSpectrum.com. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.
Thank you for sharing your story and your images, Valerie!
As always, thanks for reading the blog, friends! Please shop locally for Mother’s Day this year!
if you or someone you know is thinking of buying or selling a home in the Northern Palm Beach County area, I’d LOVE for you to Contact Me! Let me help you have an enjoyable real estate experience! ❤️ Nicole