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Written by Kate Racculia
A piece of chocolate is a tiny work of art, crafted by hand, that you can eat. “Just one bite and you lose control of your face in the best way possible,” says co-owner and marketing manager of Zen Chocolate Maribeth J. Allen. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?” She didn’t know much about making chocolate before she met co-owner and chocolatier Kelly A. Kehs; Kehs, an experienced baker, taught herself how to make candy. Word of mouth spread, and blossomed into an opportunity to build something more. Kehs created Zen Chocolates, an artisanal chocolate business, and Allen photographs and markets these tiny, tantalizing works of art.
The partners, in life and in business, are passionate about pairing their chocolate with the Lehigh Valley, collaborating with local businesses and infusing their creations with as many of the Valley’s foods and flavors as possible. Their goal is to build their family business into something longlasting, expanding their menu with new and unique creations, and partnering with more like-minded local businesses. They hope to instill in their children what their mothers taught them: persistence, motivation, pride in one’s craft, and confidence in their ability to not only meet but exceed their own goals.
“It’s always risky,” they say, “putting your product on the line in a competitive market.” But the rewards are worth the risk. “Be powerful, be brave,” they advise. “And know that you have within yourself they ability to reach any goal you set out to achieve.”
Seeing the amount of strong, confident women in leadership positions in the city has been empowering to them. “Local women leaders serve as an inspiration for all entrepreneurs, regardless of age or gender, in Bethlehem,” they say. “The nurturing and support they give to their respective businesses and others keeps this community strong.”