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On Turning Six

This weekend, South 'n France turns six years old! In some ways, it seems like just yesterday that we debuted our company at the 2006 Carolina Chocolate Festival. In other ways, it seems like we've been making and selling bon bons forever. Steve Jobs said in reference to his tenure at Apple: "Each year has been so robust with problems and successes and learning experiences and human experiences that a year is a lifetime at Apple. So this has been ten lifetimes. "

We hear you, Steve. It's only been six years, but we feel like we've lived (and aged) at least a few decades (if not lifetimes) since launching South 'n France. Thankfully, we're not yet as world-weary as "Toddlers and Tiaras" beauty pageant veteran, Eden Wood, who at the age of six (with 300 pageant wins already under her glitzy rhinestone-studded belt) announced her retirement on national TV.

As for us, we have no plans of retiring anytime soon. In fact, like most six year olds, we're enthusiastic about, well, most everything we're involved in these days. We're finally on the verge of launching the packaging we've been working on for years. Our newly forged partnership with Port City Java is coming into its own, as we plan to bring our product into multiple locations in New Hanover and Brunswick counties over the next few months. (Look for us at the 17th Street Port City Java in just a few weeks!) Our website is about to get a facelift. And, we're planning our first real vacation (with both of us on vacation at once!) this summer. As any small business owner will tell you, the ability to take a vacation is a true sign of success.

As for lessons, we've learned more than our fair share. There should be advanced degrees for people who run small businesses--at the very least, an honorary PhD from the school of hard knocks. In many ways, launching a small business was especially difficult for us because unlike most new companies (think hair salons or daycares or restaurants or repair companies), we had no role model. Perhaps that should have been our first clue. No one was already out there making and selling nothing but hand-dipped chocolate bon bons via the internet. Now we know why!

One of my favorite proverbs is "necessity breeds ingenuity." It's how many of the most successful elements of our business were inspired. For example, singing telegrams, Bon Bon Parties, our Cafe au Lait bon bon flavor and our now legendary Dinner and a Movie Nights, were all born out of pressing needs. In our innocence (or some would say 'ignorance'), we created new products and new business ideas that fanned the flames of our deeply held conviction: the world needs our brand of sweetness and delight.

Indeed, looking at the world through the eyes of a young child (or a young business), is really quite refreshing. Here is my case in point: A 1st grade school teacher presented each child in her classroom with the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to finish the phrase. Those six-year-olds responded with these incredible, instinctive gems:

Strike while the...bug is close.
It’s always darkest before...Daylight Saving Time.
Never underestimate the... power of termites.
You can lead a horse to water... but how?
Don’t bite the hand that ...looks dirty.
A miss is as good as a... Mr.
You can’t teach an old dog new... Math.
If you lie down with dogs, you’ll... stink in the morning.
The pen is mightier than the... pigs.
An idle mind is the... best way to relax.
Where there’s smoke there’s... pollution.
Happy the bride who... gets all the presents.
A penny saved is... not much.
Two’s company, three’s... the Musketeers.
Don't put off till tomorrow what you... put on to go to bed.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and...you have to blow your nose.
There are none so blind as... Stevie Wonder.
Children should be seen and not...spanked or grounded.
If at first you don’t succeed... get new batteries.
A bird in the hand is going to... poop on you.
Better late than...pregnant!

For South 'n France most things are happening later than we initially expected them to, but we still look forward to a future 'pregnant' with possibilities. Thank you for your loyal support and encouragement over the past five years. We look forward to growing up in the five that will follow....

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