Duncan, Vancouver Island/Coast
Duncan, Vancouver Island/Coast
A brief introduction to Chocolate Pearl. Chocolate Pearl is an independent, artisanal chocolate shop located in Downtown Duncan in the heart of the Cowichan Valley. It was started in in 2017 by Cheryl and Nigel Yonge and was recently named Downtown Duncan’s “Business of the Year”. All of the chocolates are handmade, and due to the burgeoning “localvore movement”, we incorporate local ingredients, some of which include wine from various local vineyards, locally made ale, coffee from Drumroaster, sea salt from Vancouver Island Salt Co., tea from Westholme Tea Farm and lavender from Damali Lavender. Many other ingredients are bought a block away from our shop on Saturdays at the Duncan Farmers Market. Not only does this practice help the environment, it makes for healthier eating and most important, dollars stay right here in the Cowichan Valley. Other stuff: • Our mantra = “Lo-cal? No. Local? Yes.” • Cheryl is also a fine artist with a background in graphic design. Nigel is a veteran in the field of branding and advertising. • Cheryl is a fifth generation Duncan-ite and Nigel is originally from Saanichton. They met while working in marketing in Vancouver in the 1990s. • After many years in Vancouver and with two boys, they moved back home to escape the city and start a bricks and mortar business. • The shop is named after Cheryl’s grandmother, Vivian Pearl Chamberlin, who was also a fine artist (the art on the walls at Chocolate Pearl is all by Cheryl).
In Business Since 2017
What motivated you to start your business, what challenges did you overcome?
Chocolate Pearl was started by two Vancouver Islanders, Cheryl and Nigel Yonge. Cheryl (originally from Cowichan) and Nigel (originally from Saanichton), met while working the field of marketing in Vancouver. In 1999 they were married and after 14 years in the city, they decided to move back home to Cowichan with their two boys. In the Cowichan Valley there are hundreds of farms, orchards, breweries and wineries – many of which are internationally acclaimed. Dubbed “Canada’s Provence” by legendary foodie James Barber, Cowichan has become home to a flourishing artisanal food culture. In view of this, Cheryl and Nigel recognized a niche that hadn’t been filled on Vancouver Island: a chocolate shop that could produce high quality, handmade chocolates using local ingredients. So, in 2017 the pair launched “Chocolate Pearl” in Downtown Duncan in a renovated storefront on Craig Street. The ingredients used in their chocolates come from independent local companies from across the board; a renowned tea farm, a lavender farm, a sea salt company, plus many of the award-winning local wineries, breweries and distilleries. They even source ingredients from the Duncan Farmers Market, just a block away from their shop. To complement their offering, they also serve espresso coffee (roasted by a local supplier) and gelato made on Salt Spring Island. From the day they opened in 2017, business has been brisk and just last year they were named “Business of the Year” by the Downtown Duncan Business Improvement Area.
Why do you deserve to win the Best Innovation award?
In summary, Chocolate Pearl is a four-year-old upstart that began with Cheryl and Nigel’s dream of creating something unique in the Cowichan Valley: a mom & pop boutique that not only hand makes its own chocolates, but supports the local producers that comprise its ingredients. We attribute our success to hard work, innovation, great customer service and staying loyal to our local roots. Truth be told, we’ve been asked a few times to franchise, but we’d prefer to remain independent and stay and serve the community that we love.
Premier's People's Choice
We could toot our own horn about the success of Chocolate Pearl, but as it’s a “People’s Choice” award, we’d prefer to let the people do the talking. One simply needs to Google our reviews to see how we’ve resonated with customers. To be candid, business has always been brisk at Chocolate Pearl – even more so during the pandemic. If we do win, it is our pledge to donate the entire prize, including the $1,500 to a worthy local business in Downtown Duncan that isn’t faring so well.