If you're not in the know, Askinosie Chocolate is a small batch, award winning chocolate factory located in Springfield, Missouri, sourcing 100% of their beans directly from farmers. Since they've been around, a lot of good has happened and Shawn was in Nashville to share lessons from his time in the trenches, most of which he details in his book, Meaningful Work: A Quest To Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, And Feed Your Soul.
While we gathered 'round on a stormy night at Barista Parlor, we ate chocolate while Shawn told stories of impact, meaningful work, and using your profession to make a big difference. Here are just some of the core takeaways:
Shawn began his talk with sharing about grief and the idea that grief is what sows the seeds for joy to grow. Therefore, whatever your story may be - who you are, where you come from, what challenges you've faced, what inspires you - all of this matters as you begin to think about the kind of work or company you want to create.
Shawn left a successful law practice to make chocolate, but not right out of the gate. He volunteered at a hospital. He made a lot of cupcakes and other baked goods. Then the idea of chocolate hit him out of the blue one day. But the hospital work and amateur kitchen adventures provided a bridge between his law firm and Askinosie Chocolate.
The tough part about the bridge, of course, is that when you're on it, you really just want to get to the other side. You want out of what may seem boring or tiresome at the moment. Resist that urge and instead, embrace where you are. It's the only way to get where you're going.
Shawn's first chocolate "factory"? His old law office kitchen with (very) rudimentary equipment. He eventually upgraded to professional equipment and a full factory, but not until he'd learned the art of chocolate making. Wherever you are right now, stay put. Cobble together the tools and materials you need to try the next great adventure. Don't keep saying that you'll start once everything is perfect (it never will be). Just start.
As Askinosie grew, so did the temptation to begin outsourcing some of the company's vision that Shawn birthed. Send someone else halfway around the world to source beans. Don't worry about paying farmers so much. Stop providing meals to schools that the farmers' kids attend. But those all would have disrupted the vision of why the company started. Vision matters at Askinosie, and Shawn and the team make sure everyone remembers it every day.
Askinosie only has 17 full time employees. It's profitable, but not rolling in dough. But they've provided over 1,000,000 meals to kids around the world. They pay farmers 55% better than any other buyer. And they're telling the story of the communities that support them. Any of us - no matter how big our businesses are - can begin to align our work with our heart and give to causes we believe in.
No matter what you do for a living, Shawn's book is worth checking out. And an Askinosie bar or two is worth nibbling on the next time your need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Back before Nashvillians could feast on mediocre NFL football, locals had a steady diet of Arena League football in the form of the Nashville Kats.
The long version of the Nashville Kats history is here, but here are the highlights (we cut things down because if you love arena football, it means you can't handle the full version of anything):
The Arena League itself has been afraid of success it seems, stopping and starting a few times. They cancelled their 2009 season, and now there are only 5 teams. We're not saying that's the Kats' fault, so we'll just chalk that one up as one of life's unanswerable mysteries, like religion, how GDP works, and why people love pedal taverns so much.
HOLD THE PHONE.
In case you missed our daily rundown these last 10 days, here's the full list of our Top 10 Nashville Valentine's Gift Ideas:
You can find all of these at our retail store, open every day from 10AM - 6PM. There's still time to order online in time for Valentine's Day, too. Best of luck, lovebirds!
Here we are - less than a week out and at the end of our Top 10 Nashville Valentine's Gift Ideas.
So why not end the list, the week, and these holiday suggestions with something that's a little punny?
This simple gift packs a big sentiment, telling the recipient that you love them "berry" much. (Which is hopefully the sentiment you're going for.)
In addition to this fruit-inspired chocolate bar, we've added a candle from our pals at Paddywax so something hot can stick around long after the chocolate bar is eaten in one sitting.
Some modern advice: "When it doubt, go with what's popular."
So, yes, mom, if all my friends are doing something, I'll do it to - especially if it's giving a much-loved and homerun of a gift idea.
Case in point: our Rise & Shine Nashville Gift Batch. Year after year, this gift is at the top of our Most Given list since it packs such a powerful breakfast punch.
Seriously - this gift (especially the deluxe version) has it all:
Best of all, we donate the equivalent of 20 meals towards our partners at Second Harvest Food Bank. Win win.
As always, our gift batches ship for free and can include a handwritten note. Grab one today, or visit our retail store inside the Nashville Farmers Market (open every day from 10AM-6PM).
Everyone loves chocolate (seriously - everyone). Since we aim to make Valentine's Day shopping easy and painless for you, we've rounded up six Choco-tastic items from local small makers, boxed them up all pretty, and are ready to ship them out to your choco-holic Valentine.
This batch has everything: Hot chocolate on a stick, cordials, chocolate-covered pecans, a chocolate bar, and peppermint bark. Did we miss anything?
We didn't think so.
As always, gift batches ship for free, so place your order today and we'll guarantee this will arrive by Valentine's Day (it's next week, people!). Plus, we'll include a hand-written note, making you appear way more thoughtful than you usually are.
Or, run into our retail store (open every day from 10AM - 6PM) and add even more chocolate awesomeness if you want.
Take a look...it's in a book...reading Nashville! (Cue LeVar Burton.)
Nashville isn't just a great place to come eat, drink, ride a pedal tavern and take a selfie with a mural. It's also a great place to read about, no matter how old you are. That's why today's Valentine gift idea is all about Nashville books.
Here are our four favorite Nashville-themed books that you can give to any Valentine in your life:
Whether it's looking and what makes Nashville so Nashville, learning how to cook Nashville, or sharing Nashville with the next generation, we've got books that have got you covered.
Some like it hot (like us). So, we've found the spiciest and sauciest Nashville items that will really help you heat things up with your Valentine. (Provided that they're into that sort of thing. And by "that sort of thing" we mean they're down with big numbers on the Scoville scale.)
Here it is - the lineup of the hottest things this side of the Cumberland:
Need we say more? No? Ok.
As always, gift batches ship for free, or you can pick one up (and add even more hot things) at our retail store, open every day of the week inside the Nashville Farmers Market.
Back in 2013 (remember those simpler times?), Batch began with one simple idea: ship 4 Nashville-made items to passionate subscribers once a month. Since those days of yore, we've complexified things a bit, adding a full blown e-commerce store, a brick-and-mortar store located inside the Nashville Farmers Market, and a corporate sales division. But we've never forgotten about our roots and the monthly Batch Nashville subscription is going strong.
Each month, we select four Nashville-made items and send them out to subscribers all over the US. Each month is a surprise, but you can always count on discovering something new, receiving something that reflects Nashville's growing and diverse landscape of makers, and enjoying high-quality, hand-crafted items.
Best of all, you can give a subscription to someone else, so they can experience 1, 3, or 9 months of Nashville love. In fact, the more you buy, the more you save. We'll include and handwritten note so they know who it's from, as well as how many boxes they can expect in the upcoming months.
Grab one today; the next boxes ship the week of February 20.
If you want to say "You look tired," without saying "You look tired, babe," then the best way to be honest while not sleeping on the couch would be to send out our coffee themed gift batch to that special someone who can't adult until they've had a swimming pool's worth of caffeine each morning.
Packed with local coffee from our friends at Bongo Java, Frothy Monkey, Muletown, and Syp, we don't stop with just bags of beans. We also toss in some coffee additives like hazelnut syrup and honey sticks. And, for an added pick-me-up, we kick things up a notch with some Delta Cheese Straws.
All that AND it ships for free! (Or pick it up in our store, open every day of the week from 10AM-6PM in Nashville.)
Still stumped on what to get someone since you only met them last week when you swiped right? Browse our entire Valentine's collection, or see what you've missed so far in this blog series below.