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Conversations with the Inspiring Aurelie Nguyen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aurelie Nguyen.

Aurelie, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Everything started 3 years ago when we were dreaming my wife, Aurélie, and I to begin a new adventure and move our 3 boys, Ezekiel, William and Benjamin with us to another country. Being from Quebec City, Canada we were tired of the cold and also wanted to have our kids learn english as their second language, as they already speak french, our native language. After exploring different options we settled for Arizona to start Crème & Chocolats. It took 1 year to plan to leave and receive all the papers. Another year to work at finding the ingredients, product combination a space to lease and to build it.

Many challenges we faced and did overcome to open our doors. From failing many times at making our dipped cones without having the ice cream melt, to have the right texture and thickness of chocolate. All was very challenging because we did not possess the equipment and we had to work with suppliers to run tests.

Leasing the space was an obstacle that we did not expect to be as hard and as long as it was. Having no income during this time, it was stressful with nights of no sleep. We knocked many doors with landlords refusing to lease to us. From what we understand, they were not ready to commit to a startup business with no proven concept. It was tough, really tough. We persevered with the faith that things would work out.

Finally, we had a first appointment with the representative of Dana Park shopping center. We liked the place and could envision ourselves there.

After months of negotiation, we finally agreed on terms. It was time to build and oh how much we sweat but it was rewarding to see things starting to get real. We finally opened our doors on december 12th 2017. Since then, we have happily served thousands of customers.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There were many challenges such as finding a great location, creating the right products, finding the suppliers and the equipment, hiring good employees, it seems there are challenges all the time and that is why being an entrepreneur is not for all. However, the feeling of seeing our customers walking in the store and being delighted by what we offer, there is now word to describe it.

Tip #1 Perseverence – We could have stopped trying many times.
Tip #2 Differentiation – Make sure you know where you bring value compared to your competitors.
Tip #3 Don’t settle for an ok product or an ok location or an ok website. If you want to be successful everything needs to be top notch.

What should we know about Creme & Chocolats? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My husband and I dreamed about a place where friends, family and loved ones could nurture their relationships. A place to hang out that is cozy and warm but also accessible and a feeling of being home and in Europe at the same time.

We are proud of our design that we did on our own. We get a lot of compliments. The exterior, the patio area is beautiful with the big fountain. It has this european feel.

We serve great desserts using awesome products. Our core is our pure Belgian chocolate. Aurélie created 9 flavors of chocolate. Our most popular products are our dipped soft ice cream cones and the sweet crêpes. The combinations are endless with 9 flavors of soft ice cream, that makes 81 combinations. We also offer ice cream sandwich and sorbet bars that can be dipped. The chocolate is like magic. Oh and I forget the hot chocolate you can pick any flavor of chocolate and we pour a scoop of pure chocolate in hot milk, heaven!

We are also working on offering savory crêpes since many of our customers have asked for it.

Looking back on your childhood, what experiences do you feel played an important role in shaping the person you grew up to be?
I don’t think there are specific things that you really need to become successful. By the way, success will differ from one person to the other and it does not necessarily mean only money-wise. Determination and desire will get you where you want.

I grew up where hard work was expected. I was a dedicated and diligent student. These values come from my Vietnamese dad. As far as my mom, being French and cooking was just part of my life as a child.

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Image Credit:

Julie Griffin Photography

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