Katrina Markoff, founder of Vosges-Haut Chocolat, won the 2007 OPEN from American Express & Entrepreneur Magazine Woman of the Year Contest. Katrina Markoff launched her gourmet chocolate company in 1998. While working out of her Chicago apartment, she created a line of specialy chocolates using a variety of exotic ingredients from around the world. The steps she took next to bring her chocolates to a larger market would bring her great success over the course of the next decade.
Katrina Markoff first shopped her chocolates to Neiman Marcus who originally gave her a weak response. Katrina didn’t give up. Instead, she left some of her chocolate samples with the Neiman Marcus buyer, and the next day he called and asked for more, which he left in the company’s break room. The employees loved them, and the next thing Katrina knew, her chocolates were being sold in Neiman Marcus.
Katrina followed that initial success by branching out of her apartment and opening a retail store in Chicago just two-months after her chocolates launched in Neiman Marcus. Later, she added a mail order catalog and a website to her distribution points and claims that’s when her brand started to skyrocket. She later added stores in New York, Las Vegas and Japan, and she has visions to expand into London.
Today, Vosges-Haut Chocolat employs 50 people. Katrina leads her company with a focus on keeping her staff creative and relaxed. She believes there is more to her company than money. To prove her commitment to what she calls the ‘lifestyle component’ of her business, her employees participate in a weekly yoga class at the office. She has a strong understanding of the importance of her employees stating each one of them plays a role in the company’s success and has an opportuntity to make changes to better the company. That kind of team environment undoubtedly helped Katrina get her company to where it is today.
Katrina’s focus on lifestyles doesn’t stop with her employees. She also leads her company with a keen eye on the environment. The Vosges-Haut Chocolat headquarters runs on 100% renewable energies.
In 2007, Vosges-Haut Chocolat generated nearly $12 million in sales. It’s not surprising Katrina Markoff was named Woman of the Year by OPEN from American Express & Entrepreneur magazine.
Tags: Katrina Markoff, Vosges-Haut Chocolat, American Express, Entrepreneur Magazine, woman of the year, OPEN American Express, OPEN American Express Entrepreneur Woman of the Year, women in business, businesswomen, women on business, female entrepreneurs, women business owners