Welcome to Trep Talk! Trep Talk features some of our city’s compelling entrepreneurs who are boldly building what is uniquely Memphis. The spotlight series is curated by Elizabeth Lemmonds, Director of Talent Programs for the EPIcenter.
Welcome to our first Trep Talk Q&A, with one of my favorite people, entrepreneurs and businesses: Phillip Rix of Phillip Ashley Chocolates. A couple of years ago – the business officially launched in 2012 – I heard whispers of “chasing Willy Wonka,” and then read an article in Forbes about a sales and marketing executive with the likes of FedEx and Apple who traded the corporate life for that of an entrepreneur. More specifically, the entrepreneurial life of a self-taught artisan chocolatier in Memphis.
And whaaaat? A storefront in Cooper-Young? My first taste was prior to a mother-daughter date night at The Orpheum. That proved apropos as these chocolates were not only decadent and exotic, but also bite sized works of art. My first was the Karmal Sutra, with hints of coconut, cardamom, curry, caramel and sea salt. Many of his distinct profiles incorporate local culture and food, like the Memphis (BBQ) and The Grizzness (bacon, caramel and shortbread).
Could the story get much better? Yes. Yes, it could. In the past year alone, Phillip Ashley has partnered with Le Bonheur, has been the official chocolatier of The Grammy Awards and joined an official Academy Awards Hollywood watch party!
It’s a privilege to call Phillip a friend, and to have him kick off Trep Talk! Oh, and for the record: my current favorite is the Fuego, with ancho and chipotle peppers. Go ahead: #youdeserveit
So, Phillip: give us your elevator pitch! Phillip Ashley Chocolates hand crafts the finest designer chocolates on the market. Our goal is the push the boundaries of conventional taste and present a new, more artistic perspective; not only visually, but especially in taste. We tell stories that taste like chocolate.
What was your inspiration? My inspiration to become a chocolatier was a collective of experiences and people who’ve had influence on my life. I suppose that’s why I continue to create chocolate after chocolate. I was blessed with a myriad of opportunities to learn, so now I’m sharing that in my craft and business.
Did you always know you were destined for entrepreneurship? I truly believe I was destined. Being in sales, you have to have an entrepreneurial mindset to be successful.
What’s been your proudest moment? Just jumping out there is what I’m most proud of. It is not easy leaving conventional structure behind. The greatest reward is also my greatest responsibility: calling the shots. I anticipate good things to come even when I don’t always know what they will be. I never take any of it for granted and enjoy celebrating the little things just as I do the big.
What’s your top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? You can’t build a house within a house. In other words, if being an entrepreneur is truly what you are and want to be, you have to be willing to go all in and do it.
What entrepreneurial resources helped you most? I actually developed my business model over several years while learning and evolving into a chocolatier. A local consulting firm assisted with my original business plan. I since created my Entrepreneurship Master Class to help entrepreneurs of all type to understand how to start, further develop and grow their businesses.
How do you maintain the elusive work/life balance? The early years of launching a business requires a lot of your time, especially when it’s a product. Creating balance has to be proactive and intentional. I’m a mid-day moviegoer.
What should be on every entrepreneur’s bookshelf? I have so many but here’s a few I think are essential:Continue Reading …