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A decade ago, Kesha Dozier asked herself what it was that she most wanted to do in her life. The answer: to open up a chocolate shop.
The New Jersey native moved to North Carolina to attend college at NC Central, where she studied biology with a focus in organic chemistry. She continued her graduate studies in physiology, worked as a medical examiner investigator at UNC and then specialized in the pharmaceutical industry—in which she still works full-time today. But chocolate, Dozier’s true passion, took her down a new path when she and her husband, Maurice, opened The Chocolate Boutique in Lafayette Village in 2011.
While working full-time, volunteering and being a mom, Dozier found time to travel the world—to Belgium, Spain, Italy and, of course, Hershey, Pennsylvania—to sample some of its best chocolates. Using the knowledge gleaned from her chocolate-tasting travels, Dozier’s boutique makes more than 70 percent of its own chocolate in house and Dozier has perfected a recipe for chocolate truffles.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Dozier says. “You walk into the shop, put on your apron and it’s a happy and fun place to be. Everyone walks in the door and you see them take a deep breath in and they smile and their whole expression changes.”
Pre-COVID, Dozier opened up her space monthly for “Sweet Talk,” a local networking group she started to help market the store and reach the community. She also hosted chocolate and wine tasting events and founded the annual Lafayette Village Chocolate and Wine Festival.
While the pandemic has changed how Kesha defines success, she is confident that the boutique will succeed. Her sales were 95 percent brick and mortar before, but now, the boutique sells online, offers curbside pickup and ships to its customers.
“Control what you can control,” Dozier says. “If you can manage it, manage it and do it; if not, move onto something else.”
Dozier, a self-described extrovert and people lover, says she is proud to have been able to grow her dream into a shop that’s loved by many. But it wasn’t always an easy road and Dozier says she encountered plenty of obstacles that couldn’t be solved with a bottle of chocolate wine. She’s found that good planning tends to make the job easier.
“I love writing business plans,” Dozier says. “I will write a plan for everything, but what I didn’t account for nearly enough was the cost of overhead of a brick and mortar.”
With working full time, running a small business and everything else she’s juggling, it’s a wonder that Dozier finds time to do it all. Recently, she’s drawn inspiration from Richard Carlson’s best-selling book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.”
“It has given me a new perspective on things and reminds me to just breathe and enjoy the time I have,” Dozier says. “Life moves so fast. Don’t forget to acknowledge it [as] tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us.”
The other way to move through a full life with a busy schedule, according to Dozier? Find balance.
“Balance is enjoying little bits at a time,” Dozier says. “I may only get five minutes here or there, five minutes for meditation, five minutes on The Knowledge App, or I may actually get eight hours of sleep. Whatever it is, I take it all in and just enjoy it.
In this series, Raleigh Magazine takes a look at some of the women in our city who are getting the job done.
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