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Toronto chocolate company crafts Easter treats with a mental health message

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Quest Atkinson registered her Toronto-based chocolate company at a time when fear-fuelled stockpiling of toilet paper was the crown jewel.

It was not long before Easter in 2020. “People were thinking about toilet paper. That’s what we were up against,” Atkinson, owner of Quest XO Chocolate, told CTV News Toronto.

On top of crazed consumer trends, her e-commerce business didn’t have the same seductive quality as chocolate shops with storefront windows where customers could peer in and get lured by the mesmerizing churn of a chocolate wheel.

Still, Atkinson persevered. “As someone who struggles with depression, it’s really important to find purpose,” she said.

“Each order that comes in, it gives me purpose. It lets me know that I am needed in that moment and people are relying on me.”

That investment of love and energy into each hand-painted chocolate Easter egg or bunny-printed nougat is what drew her customers in -- even without a storefront window.

“Over the last few years, people have come to know the brand through more of an intimate touch point with customers,” she said

On the back of every item Atkinson sells is a handwritten scratch note that reveals heartfelt words, like, “You’re worth it.”

“It’s just meant to make people feel special,” she said. Based on customer feedback, it has. One client told her they plaster each note to their fridge, another said he keeps one of the notes folded in his wallet.

“To know my chocolate company can have that kind of impact on people is so fulfilling. Yes, we are in the business of making chocolate but loving people is at the core of what we do,” Atkinson said.

Her Easter chocolates are crafted with that same mindful mission. That’s why her chocolate bombs are shaped like sheep and her chocolate nests are filled with nostalgic movie theatre snacks like popcorn and Swedish berries.

“We want people to play with their food,” she said. “It’s meant to invoke that inner child.”

“I have really vivid memories of eating white chocolate Easter bunnies and hating it,” Atkinson said. Instead, she wants customers to indulge, feel loved and have fun all while eating her sweets. 

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