After more than three decades at the helm of a flourishing office equipment business, Debi Jenrette decided it was time to savor the sweet life. So she opened up a hand-made confectionary. In 2007, Jenrette started Anna Shea Chocolates in South Barrington, offering artisanal chocolates fashioned by hand in strict observance of European traditions.

“It’s a big stretch from copy machines to chocolates,” she says. In 2009, Debi moved production of the chocolates to her South Barrington store. She added a lounge with a full bar, including specialty martinis, wine and beers, that pair well with the coveted chocolates.

Along the way, Debi used a $7,500 loan from Accion to replace an aging piece of kitchen equipment with a new model that contributes to a better product.

Debi says one simple principle is also baked into her recipe for success: consistency. “This is a tough business, because there are plenty of competitors. So customers have to want to come back here,” she says. “We have a multitude of standards that all employees follow to the letter, because the customer experience needs to be equally good every time.” In Debi’s case, that philosophy has paired especially well with chocolate, too.

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