Katrina Markoff is the founder and CEO of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, a gourmet chocolate company based in Chicago. She was honored as the Woman Entrepreneur of the Year in 2007 by OPEN American Express & Entrepreneur Magazine.
Katrina launched her gourmet chocolate company in 1998. While working out of her Chicago apartment, she created a line of specialty chocolates using a variety of exotic ingredients from around the world. Katrina first shopped her chocolates to Neiman Marcus, who originally gave her a weak response, but she didn't give up. Instead, she left some of her chocolate samples with the Neiman Marcus buyer, and the next day he called and asked for more, which he left in the company's break room. The employees loved them, and the next thing Katrina knew, her chocolates were being sold at Neiman Marcus.
Katrina followed that initial success by branching out of her apartment and opening a retail store in Chicago just two months after her chocolates launched in Neiman Marcus. Later, she added a mail order catalog and a website to her distribution points and claims that was when her brand began to skyrocket.
In 2007, Vosges Haut-Chocolat generated nearly $12 million in sales. It's not surprising Katrina Markoff was named Woman of the Year by OPEN from American Express & Entrepreneur magazine. There are now seven Vosges Haut-Chocolat stores open in the United States, including five in Chicago.
Katrina leads her company with a focus on keeping her staff creative and relaxed. To prove her commitment to what she calls the lifestyle component of her business, her employees participate in a weekly yoga class at the office. She has a strong understanding of the importance of her employees, stating that each one of them plays a role in the company's success and has an opportunity to make changes to better the company.
Katrina's focus on lifestyle doesn't stop with her employees. She also leads her company with a keen eye on the environment. The Vosges Haut-Chocolat headquarters runs on 100% renewable energy. Vosges Haut-Chocolat's latest endeavor is the construction of a Platinum LEED-certified green manufacturing and chocolate lifestyle house in Chicago
Katrina is the recipient of numerous accolades including being named one of The Top 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40, the Bon Appétit Food Artisan of the Year Award, and “THE innovator in chocolate to lead the US through the next 30 years” by Food & Wine Magazine. Most recently, Vosges Haut-Chocolat was named one of the 10 Best Chocolatiers in the World by National Geographic.
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