Having owned a travel agency for more than 15 years, Rieko Wada has seen the world, from the pyramids in Egypt to the Taj Mahal in India, from the Great Wall of China to the Moai on Easter Island.
Each journey left her a love for aesthetic beauty and a tasteful indulgence of fine foods. In time, Wada wanted to share the flavors and cultural experiences from her globe-trotting with other epicureans through chocolate creations.
Thus, in 2004, Sweet Endeavours was born. Much like the movie “Chocolat,” Wada, a graduate of the French Pastry School in Chicago, makes it her mission to have everyone she encounters try her chocolates at least once.
With holistic wellness in mind, Wada, who also is a certified Pilates instructor, places great emphasis on making dark chocolate pleasures with higher cocoa content and fresh, natural ingredients.
The Japanese-born entrepreneur began by operating the luxury chocolate shop from her home, selling her unique chocolates online. (Visitwww.chocolatines.com.)
When her business started growing beyond the constraints of her home, she rented space from a restaurant in Chicago to introduce her original creations to a wider customer base. By 2006, other stores began selling select items from her exquisite line, Chocolatines. Once again, her popularity as well as demand from customers forced her to outgrow her rental space, and she relocated to her first independent brick-and-mortar boutique in Schaumburg, Ill.
Today, Sweet Endeavours offers more than 60 different varieties of chocolates and chocolate-covered delights.
Upon walking into the Sweet Endeavours showroom, customers are amazed at the detail of each piece and the high quality of the chocolate creations, from an Asian-French fusion selection of chocolate to ornate and fully-edible stilettos in the Chocouture collection. It’s hard not to be overwhelmed.
Wada continues to fulfill her mission by creating visually appealing and sensually appetizing chocolates with the integration of her Japanese heritage, interior designing background and world travel experiences. As she introduces new flavors and evolves the way the world views chocolate, Wada is being recognized for her efforts.
In 2010, Wada was tapped to feature her collections at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards and the 82nd Annual Academy Awards, typically know as the Oscars.
Earlier this year, she was honored by the Schaumburg Business Development Commission as its Featured Business of the Month. In May, Wada received the Entrepreneur Award from Cook County Treasurer Maria Papas.
Although Wada is appreciative of the accolades, she remains committed to her goal of creating pleasurable art.
What did you think you would be when you grew up?
When I was in middle school, I thought I would become a doctor.
Name one of your favorite movies.
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
Describe your perfect dream vacation.
I would love to visit the Galapagos Islands.
What book are you currently reading?
I’m always picking up cookbooks to read.
Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
My first instructor at culinary school.
What’s your pet peeve?
People who unconsciously shake their legs and feet while sitting.
I’d give anything to meet:
The best advice that I’ve received:
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
What excites you most about your job?
When people respond positively and accept new products that I’ve developed.