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Published on Mommy Tracked (http://www.mommytracked.com)

Jean Thompson

For women, chocolate is more than a food choice, it’s a relationship. Recognizing this unique relationship women have with chocolate and curious about why there wasn’t a women-centered chocolate that she could identify with, set Jean Thompson in action to develop a line of fun, fine, female inspired chocolates. She spent months looking into quantitative and qualitative research regarding women’s attitudes and consumption of their favorite sweet indulgence. Soon after, Chick Chocolates [1] was born.

 

Jean Thompson is Chief Chick and CEO of Seattle Chocolates [2], maker of Chick Chocolates [3]. She is also the mother of Danny (16) and Ellie (9). How cool to have a mom that is a real life, totally modern Willy Wonka!

 

 

 

Do you work exclusively in an office, exclusively from home or some combination? What are the pros and cons of your schedule?

 

I put about 40 hours a week in the office and another 10 or so hours in at home each week. I have a lot of flexibility to work around kids’ schedules or sick days, which takes a lot of the stress of being a working mom off me. I need time in the office to be available for meetings and questions and to have a pulse on what’s going on, but the real work often gets done at home, when I have time to think.

 

What are the best and worst parts of your job as a chocolate company CEO?

 

The best part is the creative element – what new can we do to make our products more appealing and stand out? The worst part is any personnel problem, especially if it results in someone needing to be let go.

 

Would you work if you could afford to stay home?

 

I can afford to stay home and did for 11 years, but chose to work because it is so intellectually stimulating and good for my self-esteem.

 

Describe your childcare situation.

 

I have a local University student who picks up my kids after schools, takes them to activities and gets them started on homework and sometimes, dinner.

 

How does the question of who earns more in your house effect the domestic workload division, if at all?

 

In our case it isn’t a matter of who earns more, but who wants to do what tasks. My husband is very helpful, but I prefer to be with the kids at activities or home with them if they’re sick. Because I chose to do that, he doesn’t have to. My husband and I split the other tasks pretty evenly. He makes breakfast and lunch so I can work out early in the morning. He takes my son and I take my daughter since their bus pick up times are so close in the morning. I am responsible for more of the household duties than my husband, but he pays the bills and does things I don’t like to do (like the garbage). I feel fortunate that he does as much as he does.

 

Did your mom work outside the home?

 

No, my mother never worked outside the home.

 

What is your best tip for maintaining some kind of balance as a busy working mother?

 

Follow your instincts. If you feel harried or like you haven’t seen your kids in too long, you need to change something, regardless of how important the business issues seem to be.

 

Do you feel that you have made professional sacrifices to be a better parent or parental sacrifices to be a better professional?

 

Definitely the former. I should be in the office at least 10 more hours each week to be a more effective leader, but it isn’t something I can do and still be an involved parent. Not so much the latter. I wish I could force more time with my teenage son, but he probably prefers his independence.

 

Describe your worst working mom moment.

 

I am out of touch with the schools and their schedules as a working mom, and I completely missed the back to school night when my daughter was in first grade. I thought it started an hour later and I don’t have regular contact with friends to remind me of things.

 

Do you think your kids are proud that you work? How do you know?

 

Yes, definitely. I hear them talk about me and they will sometimes write about it in school assignments or essays. Their friends think it’s “cool” that their mom runs a chocolate factory, and that goes a long way towards feelings of pride.

 

Do you exercise? How do you find the time?

 

I work out every day by getting up obscenely early and getting it done before the day consumes me. It puts me in the right frame of mind for the day.

 

What is your guiltiest pleasure and do you ever have time for it?

 

Time with my friends. I don't have enough time for it. Friends always seem to take a back seat to family and work, and there are only so many hours in the day.

 

What do you think are the best and worst things about working while raising a family?

 

The best thing is teaching your children by example how to live and succeed in the world. The worst is trying to stay deeply in touch with your kids' lives while doing everything else you have to do.

 

What would you do if you had more time?

 

Spend it with my kids.

 

What inspired you to start Chick Chocolates

 

My usual inspiration — chocolate! I noticed that everyone was marketing chocolate as the gift a romantic man gives to his woman. I believe that real women buy chocolate for themselves and don’t wait around for a gift. More and more research was published touting the health benefits of chocolate and I wanted to develop a chocolate that women could relate to and feel good about eating every day. In addition, I noticed that no one in the chocolate industry was having fun marketing chocolate; it was all so serious and elegant. We wanted to offer a fun alternative and came up with the fresh, cheeky and delicious Chick Chocolates.

 

Truth time. How much chocolate do you eat? How do you resist it?

 

I eat several pieces of chocolate every day, not just when I’m in the office, and I always have. I don’t need to resist it because it satisfies my need to indulge and I find I do less of the unhealthy chip snacking.

 

Which Chick Chocolates Chick (if any) do you identify with?

 

Strong Chick. While I prefer the taste of Extreme Chick (and was used as the model for the artwork), I am always striving for moderation and balance and Extreme Chick never does that! Strong Chick is involved with all the things women do in this world and trying to live a healthy life. She is the one I most want to be.

 

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Craving more sweet advice from CEO moms like Jean Thompson of Seattle Chocolates [4]? Don't miss our Working Mom interviews with PINK magazine CEO Cynthia Good [4] and T3 Marketing CEO Gay Gaddis [4].


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