Ella Livingston is the founder of Cocoa Asante, a startup she established in 2018, with a vision to bring high-quality chocolate to everyone.
Originally from Ghana, Livingston moved to the United States when she was only three years old. she attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 2016 to follow her passion for teaching, according to Chattanoogatrend.
The Tennessee-based entrepreneur got interested in chocolate production when she traveled to Japan to study, where she saw how impactful Ghana’s chocolate was worldwide. She then decided to expedite her dream of bringing quality chocolate to Chattanooga. That was how Cocoa Asante was born.
She launched her cocoa brand while working as a full-time teacher, and later worked part-time in order to commit part of her time to expanding her cocoa business. The goal was to grow her company so as to hire more staff, teach, run her business, and most importantly, be a parent.
Running Cocoa Asante was not smooth sailing as she encountered many challenges. According to her, she started selling chocolates from her home, but the business soon grew too big for the kitchen. However, she struggled to raise the funds necessary for expansion.
This left her with no other choice but to move to a shared kitchen space, which was no longer safe to work in when the pandemic hit. Thanks to the INCubator, she now operates in a commercial kitchen that allows COVID-19 protocols to be observed.
Livingston recently hit the jackpot when her business reached a point of instant success after a review by food critic, Keith Lee. The black entrepreneur said her products were completely sold out in just 33 minutes after review.
According to Business Insider, Lee is celebrated for posting reviews about small-owned businesses or struggling businesses. His reviews often go viral, drawing potential customers for the business owners involved.
He reviewed four varieties of Cocoa Asante chocolate and rated each of them between 8.5 to 9.5 out of 10. According to Lee, he was “pleasantly surprised” by how much he liked them, although he didn’t like sweet foods. His review generated over 3.5 million views.