In Front of My Lens: The Chocolatier

Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, VA is full of lovely shops with uniques artisans.  One of these artists is Doris Tyler, owner of Chesapeake Chocolates.  Her shop is filled with a wonderful selection of wine, gifts and more... including freshly made chocolate. Read on to learn a little more about Doris and her business...

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today? 
I am the oldest of five siblings and a mom of three boys…that required learning to take charge and be flexible. I’ve had great role models including parents who viewed community as key, and bosses who were teachers and mentors. As a teacher for kids with special needs and a trainer for teachers and care givers, I learned to listen and evaluate, take initiative, and to build on others’ strengths.

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My husband, George has been a soundboard, a suggestion box, a tech wiz, and he has two strong shoulders that I can lean on. With his support, along with that of family and friends, I had the opportunity to create Chesapeake Chocolates, Wine, Gifts and More. I work with great people, and together we have built a team that is effective and reliable, making it a pleasure to come to work every day.

What are some highlights and challenges you have faced over your career?
Starting a new business with my sister-in-law while caring for 3 children was challenging, but so much fun! We could take breaks from taking orders and making chocolate (yes, breaks are necessary) to chase Alex, Will, and Greg around the yard, help them with homework, or play in the hammock. The boys were accustomed to the whir of the chocolate machine, and visiting friends were awed and eager to enjoy any “mistakes”.

I made the move from a home based business to brick and mortar at the Lake Anne Village Center in 2007, joining Linda from Lake Anne Florist. After she retired, I’ve renovated and remodeled the store several times, each with very tight deadlines. The last (and I hope, final) renovation was completed one day before the grand opening of the Bob Simon Lake Anne Contract Postal Unit. It was stressful, but the community of Lake Anne supported the opening with funding, paint brushes, and encouragement.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Learn as much as you can about your craft…and don’t stop. Ask questions and practice. Experiment, try new products and ideas. Be flexible. Create an environment in which you are comfortable. Work with people you admire and enjoy. And remain calm. There will be power outages, water leaks, deadlines, mistakes, and the child who falls out of a tree and breaks his wrist during your busiest time.

When/how did you decide to take the plunge into owning your own business?
With three young boys, inconsistent child care, and a hectic life, it was hard to be a reliable, effective employee. Reluctantly, I resigned and took on the new role of stay at home mom. My sister-in-law, Bernadette recently moved to the area, and we decided to take on a new challenge, creating a business that could one day employ people with disabilities in a community based setting. We worked together for six years, building Chesapeake Chocolates into a small business, before she relocated and turned the business over to me.

What is most important to you and keeps you going?
I am fortunate to have four very special men in my life, and they continue to support, challenge, entertain, and love me, and I hope I do the same for them. Crab feasts with my extended family, a visit to the local garden shops with friends, and the occasional baseball game are some of my simpler pleasures. And I hope to continue to grow Chesapeake Chocolates, Wine, Gifts and More into a thriving business in the wonderful community of Lake Anne.

To place an order for the holidays, visit Doris's shop at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, VA or online:
email: orders@cheschoc.com
website: www.cheschoc.com
Twitter: @cheschocolate
Instagram: chesapeakechocolates

You will also find Doris featured in this quarter's edition of "Around Reston: Leading Ladies Around Reston".  
Check out the digital edition here!