Tom and Sally's Handmade Chocolates
After spending years climbing the corporate ladder in Manhattan; Tom and Sally Fegley made the decision to take control of their lives and begin their own business. After planning their handmade chocolate venture for over a year, the couple quit their jobs in January 1989 and were open for business that April. Tom and Sally’s Handmade Chocolates experienced great success in their first six years. They were named the Vermont Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration. They were featured on NBC’s Today show and were written up in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Entrepreneur, Bon Appetit and Mademoiselle.
Then in 1995 the business began experiencing problems; gross sales were up, but net income continued to fall, and Tom and Sally’s started losing money. This is the point when they turned to SCORE for help. After meeting with SCORE mentor Christopher Brown, sharing some financial information, and changing some pricing methods, Tom and Sally’s Handmade Chocolates experienced the sweeter side of small business ownership and eventually merged with Hauser Foods in an effort to expand their retail reach.
After meeting with SCORE mentors to assess and modify their financial situation Tom and Sally’s not only avoided bankruptcy but became profitable enough to successfully merge with Rhode Island’s Hauser Foods and can now be found in retail locations throughout Connecticut.
"Christopher taught us to look at pricing from different perspectives and conduct extensive analysis into the time and costs associated with our products," says Sally Fegley. "Had we continued on our path for another couple of years, we would've gone bankrupt. He really saved our business.” Sally calls her SCORE mentor Christopher, "a very special person." Christopher came into the business and listened to the two owners, who as a married couple in a business partnership didn't always make it easy. "He was very respectful of us and brought a lot of maturity to the situation," Sally says.
SCORE mentor Christopher Brown studied years of the Fengley’s financial statements and information and made some very important observations. He made them aware that Tom and Sally’s was not pricing many products properly. Sally Fegley says "You can't be an expert at everything, but you are expected to be." She equates her SCORE mentor Brown to having a "grandparent" in the business, except without the emotional ties. "SCORE mentors have no vested interest—their full purpose is to help you succeed."