You’re greeted by the silky sound of a cello whirring through a cover of Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years.” The sweet smell of salted caramels tingles your nose and tempts your taste buds.
Decorative birch trees and gold ornaments accent the room, dotted with peony-pink gift boxes. A café table beckons, asking you to stay awhile, drink a fresh coffee and delight in a milk chocolate coconut cluster.
Sound like a dream?
It’s not. But it’s where Elena Macris, 31, lives her dream every day as the owner of Macris Chocolates in Lemoyne’s West Shore Plaza. She opened her shop three years ago, inspired and motivated by growing up around her family’s own chocolate business.
Macris spoke to the Business Journal about owning a small business, the challenges of running her shop and her advice for aspiring business owners.
(Responses have been edited for length and clarity).
Q: What made you want to start your own business?
A: After college I worked for a little bit outside the family business. I wanted to work for someone else and I went into a completely different industry. I did marketing for an engineering company for a little bit, and it was awesome and I loved it, but I always knew growing up that I wanted to stay in the chocolate world. That was always the driving force.
How have you been able to apply the skills you learned outside of the chocolate world to your store?
It opened my eyes in so many different ways. Any time you do something that you’re not used to, you see how a different part of the world works, how a different industry works. You pull from every part of your life.
What are some of the surprises you’ve had along the way?
I had a pretty good sense from growing up in it, but I’m completely on my own out here. I kind of anticipate something going wrong each week or each day. Juggling all the little pieces of the puzzle every day takes some getting used to. But it makes it fun. Every day is different. It’s never the same. You have a list of things to do, and you get it done, but never in the way you thought you would.
More about Elena Macris
Favorite candy: Marzipan and Macris Chocolates’ signature piece, a buttercream-center croquette, hand-rolled in milk chocolate with peanuts
Favorite item to make: Tuxedo strawberries, 3D molds and sculptures
Qualities or traits a business owner should have: “Be optimistic and positive. Driven. Persistence is number one. Surround yourself with good people – you’ll have really challenging days.”
Talk about a time things really went wrong in the shop and how you were able to get things back on track.
The day before Easter last year, it was the busiest day our of our entire year and the Wifi went down on the register. We couldn’t do anything. But we got through it. I called Square instantly. It was stressful, though.
Describe a time when you realized you were doing just the career you were meant to do.
I would say the very first Christmas here. When we opened, we had customers coming in and it was just normal, and then during that very first Christmas, with all the people in the store, everyone was happy, and it felt like how I grew up, but out here.
What’s your advice for other young women considering opening their own business?
Be patient with yourself. You can’t do everything all in one day. Take one day at a time and step back to look at how far you’ve come.