By Elizabeth Yerkes in The Stonington Times
Posted on November 26, 2004
Chocolatier Ed Patterson makes every day a sweet one.
Stonington – Until three years ago, Ed Patterson had run a private advisory team at Merrill Lynch and was married with two children. Within a week, the 35 year-old Mystic area resident suddenly lost these badges of white collar success. “I had a pink slip, a pending divorce, and $303 in my pocket,” he said from his office.
For Patterson, the only direction was to go was up. “I wanted to make a difference – make people feel like they’re special,” he explained. So he thought about one product that almost always does that: chocolate. “Marketing chocolate isn’t like selling a mutual fund, where six months down the road you wonder why you bought that fund or what it even is. Chocolate is instant gratification and I wanted to make it a fun experience.”
So Patterson researched the confectionery market. He checked out local manufacturers and retailers…What he found was a family recipe and the recipe for success in a new business model. Patterson Family Chocolates makes gourmet truffles and gives clients options to customize the packaging and presentation.
Clients can select different colored foils, styles of stamping the logo on the box top, and printed ribbons. With $303 to spend, Patterson said he spent the bulk of his pocket money on minis (small twist-top candies), bags and brochures, bought a $75 membership to a Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and had $20 left for gas.
“I wouldn’t be in this area if it weren’t for the Mystic Chamber and the Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber,” said Patterson, talking about how these local chambers of commerce networked for him. Marketing by connections, word of mouth and building on consecutive successes, Patterson’s business model has worked so far.
Patterson Family Chocolates has made boxes of chocolates for eights chambers of commerce in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company also secured an order of the largest casinos in New York. Last spring, the company turned around 800 boxes of chocolates for the L.A. Lakers – in less than a week.
“We just went all-out for them,” he said. And the Lakers ordered again for the holidays. “The difference between us and the other confectioners is our process,” Patterson said. “We make the packaging exactly for the clients, packed and shipped fresh, sent directly to their customers, even with business cards inside, we can do it. We brand on the inside with the quality of the chocolates – four different kinds of truffles in a box, balanced between whites, darks and milks. We don’t just throw them in.”