We had the good fortune of connecting with Tracy Taylor and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tracy, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
My favorite quote is actually a few lines from a song by Jessie J called “Masterpiece”. It reads as follows: “I still fall on my face sometimes and I can’t color inside the lines ’cause I’m perfectly incomplete. I’m still working on my masterpiece.” For me it sums up my journey in chocolate both in learning the chocolate medium and design. It’s a craft that is forever evolving so you are constantly learning; and quite often one will experience missteps and yes; we do fall on our faces from time to time. On the other hand it’s allowed for a world of creativity and the freedom to color outside the lines as there is no right or wrong as it pertains to design in chocolate. It allows us to think outside the box and let those creative juices flow. There are fundamental, scientific aspects of the craft that you must know in order to manipulate the medium but so far as design is concerned, the sky’s the limit. Will I ever be perfect? Is anyone ever perfect or have they ever perfected their craft? I don’t know for certain, there are those that are considered “Masters” in my field but if you were to ask them, I’m certain they would reflect that they are still learning as well.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I never would’ve classified myself as an artist initially as most would not consider food a form of art. However, my customers would argue that point. My “art” is both visual and sensory. My craft is “chocolate” and that is also my canvas. It’s not only a canvas for color/design but also a canvas for flavor. I create hand painted chocolate bonbons as well as beautifully crafted chocolate bars barks and mendiants. All are visually stunning which is important as we eat with our eyes first and they are all interlaced with multiple layers of flavor. Everything is locally hand-crafted in small batches utilizing a single origin, fairly traded, Venezuelan cacao. The flavor profiles that I create are flavors that are pulled from my years living in my homeland of Vancouver Canada, which is a melting pot of global flavors (Indian; Asian; French; Italian etc.). My journey in chocolate isn’t a usual one. I never started in the culinary field and never had intentions of ever working in the culinary field. I actually came from a technical background having worked in Telecom for 20 years. I knew most of my life that I considered myself to be more right brain then left but struggled with taking that leap into the unknown, especially with no formal training. When I was 40 I decided to return to school to pursue a degree in Interior Design which had always been my dream job, but alas after obtaining the education, life happened and I was once again to nervous to take that leap. In the meantime, a friend introduced me to the world of chocolate making. Not only did I find it fun but it allowed for that creative (right brain) side of me to once again emerge. The plus side was the rave reviews from friends and family not only as it pertained to taste but design as well. The catalyst was when I moved to Florida and was determined not to venture back into the corporate world. I then made the decision to try my hand at running my own chocolate business and selling my wares at Farmer’s Markets. The overwhelming response for my products confirmed for me that maybe I could make a career of this. When I relocated to Arizona, I decided to go all in and open up my first brick and mortar store. I also made the decision at that time to re-brand the business as the original name “Once Upon A Bean” confused some people as they automatically thought of coffee. Sometimes I think it was the craziest thing I’ve ever done. Not only was I about to start over in an area that I was a total unknown but now I was also changing the branding that I had been known for for the previous 6 years. Was my product good ?? CHECK ; I’d already proven that when I was in Florida. Did I have a vision for what a storefront would look like?? CHECK; I had my Interior Design background to pull from for how I visualized the layout of the store to be. Did I know my target market?? CHECK; I knew who my target market was but I was in a totally new city, new state with new branding where nobody knew of me or my chocolate. Was it easy building that clientele?? NO, but we’re getting there! We just celebrated 3 years but we’re still a work in progress. The re-branding of the business was probably the hardest thing I had to do, coming up with a new name and colors that spoke to what my business was about. It had to tell a story; MY STORY. I eventually, after much soul searching settled on the name Black Butterfly Artisan Chocolates. The Black Butterfly logo is a symbol of endurance, hope, life, and of positive change. The butterfly itself is a symbol of transition; it is the most symbolic of animals regarding the power of personal transformation. The Black Butterfly indicates a new start, the end of an old life and the beginning of a new one. People meeting black butterflies indicates to them that they should, be more self-confident, express their abilities more, their creativity, but always in an elegant and gentle manner. Black Butterflies are unique as are the confections I was bringing to the Prescott area. The colors I settled upon are BLACK and LAVENDER both of which in color theory indicate luxury;elegance; sophistication; and creativity to name a few. My goal was to create packaging that would make you as a consumer or the recipient of the gift of chocolate feel special upon purchasing or receiving it.
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I suppose it won’t come as a surprise that a lot of my favorite places in Prescott focus around food and the arts. For restaurants whose chefs are continually thinking outside the box, look to places like El Gato Azul; BigA; Farm Provisions; and Atmesfir. Their innovative menus and their plating styles are introducing the public to a whole new way of dining. Search historic Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott for shops like Van Gogh’s Ear; Arts Prescott Gallery ; Ian Russell Gallery or off the square at the Mountain Artists Guild for some of the finest art you’ll find in Arizona. If you have a penchant for everything old then looking no further than the numerous antique shops along Cortez Street just off the square. Those who love music and happen to be visiting during the summer months from June thru to August can relax during the early evening hours on the lawn of the courthouse square while you enjoy the musical jazz stylings of various musicians. If you happen to be someone who thrives in the great outdoors then there are hiking trails aplenty or kayaking on Watson Lake. A visit to the Dells is a must for outdoor beauty. If you’re a history buff than look no further than a trip to Sharlot Hall Museum; the Phippen Museum or the Smoki Museum. If you’re a lover of live theater, maybe a performance at the Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Centre or take in a performance at the Yavapai College who just so happen to produce some of the best live theatre around. Prescott is an area that is infamous for always having something to do year round and in the event you run out of things to do we are a stones throw away from several communities like Jerome and Sedona which will provide much the same when it comes to food; art ; beauty and adventure. It goes without saying that a stop at Black Butterfly Artisan Chocolates is a MUST for the best artisan chocolate to whet your appetite.
Who else deserves a little credit and recognition in your story?
There are so many I could recognize for helping me thru this journey from Ecole Chocolat (chocolate school) for providing the basics necessary for those wanting to venture into the industry; to the “Masters” that blazed the path into the world of fine chocolate and in turn passed down their knowledge via books and classes. All would not be possible though despite the training and knowledge gained from those resources if it were not for the love and encouragement of family and friends. Their belief in my ability is the driving force that keeps me propelling forward and continuing to put one foot in front of the other and having the courage to try new things. In particular, to my Mother who was instrumental in giving me the courage to delve into a new career so late in life and providing unconditional love and support.
Shana Oh Photography; Lasting Images AZ