As an entrepreneur, you’re in for a lot learning by doing. Turning to other business owners and learning about their experiences, though, can help you on your own journey. In this final part of a 4-part series, Jonathan Grahm, owner of Compartes, reflects on the challenges he’s encountered, mistakes he’s made, and what’s in store for the future of Compartes.
If you could go back and do anything differently in this process, what would you want to change?
Jonathan Grahm: I wouldn’t change a thing. Every single thing is part of the evolution of the brand, of me personally, as a businessman, chocolate maker and as a human. My whole journey has led me to where I am today and I couldn’t be more proud of the brand. It’s so rewarding working with chocolate (dream job) and that people love the work that we have created. It brings so much happiness to so many people.
Did you make any big mistakes during the first few years you were in business? If yes, can you share one or two?
Jonathan Grahm: I don’t believe in mistakes; I see everything as a learning experience. Everything we do leads us toward the future. Nothing can be considered a mistake, because everything in life plays out the way it’s supposed to. As humans, we are where we are at that very moment because of what we have gone through. Compartes, is where it is today because of each experience, and I am so proud of where we are, good, bad, plus or minus.
What is your main advice to other entrepreneurs who would like to start their own company?
Jonathan Grahm: Stay true to yourself and what you’re trying to create. Don’t look to outside influences or outside validation. Take what you love and try to put as much of yourself and your passion into your product. When you create something from a true genuine place, people can see that. Compartes is full of heart and I think you can tell that in our end product.
What’s in store for the future of Compartes?
Jonathan Grahm: Compartes has been in business 67 and i think it has over 100 more to go…200! It’s a brand and a product that will stand the test of time. I really believe that Compartes is one of the world’s greatest chocolate brands. It will only get bigger and bigger. I’d love to bring it to more cities across the world. We have 2 locations in LA. One of the most unique chocolate shops in the world (Our Westfield Location).
We currently have 6 stores in Tokyo Japan—and will be expanding to more selected cities soon!
Since we are small everything I do is thought out, I don’t rush into anything and that is part of the whole process.
We’re currently working on a book, more retail shops, tons more chocolate bars in our future!
We’ve got Frozen Hot Chocolate which has been a phenomenal success, and I would love to launch more chocolate products soon. (Hot) hot chocolate will also be in our future.
And we’ve got really delicious amazing valentines selections (as always).
What do you think has contributed to the success of your business?
Jonathan Grahm: I think that Compartes success lies in our heritage and history.
Our purposeful attention to detail—I’m such a perfectionist when it comes to flavor profile—down to the design of the bars and to the retail space.
Again, I am constantly challenging myself to do better, I wake up and ask myself, “What I can do better?” I always want to propel the business forward; I am never satisfied.
Also, making sure I dont expand the business too quickly all my moves are thought out. I am not in a rush or hurry to turn Compartes into the next Pinkberry.
Margaret is a freelance graphic designer and writer based in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in Graphic Design from the California Institute of the Arts. She writes for AIGA’s blog Eye on Design, and is currently designing futuristic things for USC’s World Building Media Lab.
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