Nathalie and Julien knew Halifax was the right fit for them and their business. Three months later, they share why.
Bold is an attitude. It is taking risks, being innovative and celebrating success. Being bold proudly celebrates the rewarding, balanced lifestyle in Halifax that’s envied by others. Nathalie and Julien of the new Rousseau Chocolatier are the perfect example.
Self-proclaimed spokespeople for the city, Nathalie and Julien opened Rousseau Chocolatier on Hollis Street in May. Their decadent sweets and friendly service are unlike anything else in the city, quickly building a following of regular customers.
After hearing about Rousseau Chocolatier from the Mayor at our May State of the Economy Conference, I knew I’d have to visit. Their story – and my love for chocolate – made it inevitable.
A professionally trained chocolatier, you can watch Julien make chocolate through a window while you decide between the dozens of handmade chocolates, French macarons and gourmet brownies. An added bonus, ingredients are locally sourced whenever possible.
Originally from a small town in south-east France, Julien met Nathalie, a hospitality professional from Ottawa, while living in Wakefield, Quebec. Eventually, they travelled together to France, England and Scotland, working for a handful of award-winning hotels and independent chocolatiers.
While living abroad, Nathalie and Julien knew they wanted to move back and start their life in Canada. Once Julien received his permanent Canadian residency, it was time to choose where. High quality of life and good climate for chocolate were key factors in making their decision. Julien also needed to live by the water after growing up by the Mediterranean.
Halifax was the perfect fit. There was one catch: They’d never been.
For two years they did extensive research, watching live webcams of Nova Scotia daily, reading the local newspapers and studying the business environment. Business Canada provided pedestrian counts, demographics and other information to know whether their business would be viable.
Taking a Risk
While they were optimistic about their prospects, Nathalie’s friends and family were skeptical of their decision to set up shop in Halifax. A lot of people asked, ‘Why Halifax?’
“We think Halifax is really thriving, there’s so much potential, people love coming here, it is a beautiful city and the surrounding Nova Scotia landscape is breathtaking,” she said, adding that the province is like “nowhere else” they’ve been.
The risk paid off. Twitter exploded with positive feedback and they now boast a 5-star review on Yelp. Other restaurants and shop have been extremely supportive, with the likes of Frédéric Ratinaud helping Nathalie and Julien make connections right away. After sending the Mayor a box of chocolates when they moved to Halifax, now even he’s a fan.
Innovation and Collaboration
You can find Rousseau chocolate at Ratinaud’s dinners, the upcoming Diner en Blanc and of course at their shop. Nathalie has also been contacting restaurants and hotels with a unique idea to add Rousseau chocolates to their menu.
Often after a nice meal, an extravagant desert isn’t appealing. Instead of restaurants losing the sale, she has suggested offering a small tray of their chocolates instead. “They really like the idea” said Nathalie, “and they can sell them for the same price as any other desert”.
After three months, Nathalie and Julien “can’t say it enough how happy we are.” They’ve trumped the skeptics, explored new opportunities and collaborated within the community.
Let’s follow Nathalie and Julien’s lead and celebrate Halifax and all it has to offer. A better future for our city starts with us.
Emma Robertson is the marketing and communication assistant at the Greater Halifax Partnership. She is also a Public Relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University.
You can reach Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org