TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa mother and her two daughters are looking to create a “chocolate dynasty” in the Tampa Bay area, and they’re starting downtown.
Jennifer Hill, a former teacher, and her family are from Jacksonville. Hill said she would always take her children to the small Peterbrooke chocolate shop down the road from them. One of her daughters celebrated a birthday there and they would often take Girl Scout Troupe trips there as well.
“My students would bring it to me as gifts. If you brought me Peterbrooke, you were guaranteed an ‘A’ in my class, hands down, no problem,” Hill laughed.
Upon moving to the Tampa Bay area in 2013, Hill realized there was no Peterbrooke franchise currently in the area. She began to inquire about the opportunity as she continued teaching middle school students in Pinellas County.
“I started calling back to Jacksonville, saying, ‘hey, franchise opportunity! Open one here, I’ll make it successful.’ They never called me back, they never emailed me back, so I just kind of was like, ‘oh, whatever,'” she explained.
Hill told 8 On Your Side that one day, something – in her words, “strange” – happened.
Her daughter began pursuing what Hill described as “her dream as a tech wizard” in Clearwater and she was “super jealous.”
Hill said her daughter decided she wanted to go off on her own and do something different, and asked if her mom wanted to attend a franchise expo at the Tampa Convention Center with her.
“And I said, ‘yeah, of course, I’ll go with ya, what the heck.’ And for some reason I think she got stuck working that weekend, so I just went,” Hill said. “And the first booth when you walked in the door was Peterbrooke. I’ve never seen them franchised before. So, I ran up to the guy, hugged him, grabbed him, told him, ‘I’m your girl, you’ve got to pick me, I gotta be your Tampa girl.’ And lo and behold, they did.”
The rest is chocolate-coated history.
Hill’s daughter Drew now runs the business’ website, social media and sales. Her daughter Sydney is the production manager of the store and decides what delicacies to make, how to make them and when to make them.
“They both make it beautiful and I just get to live out a dream. I get to work with my girls. This whole thing is about my girls. I wanted them to have their own business. I bought the rights to open three stores in the Tampa Bay area, so each one of them will get their own shop, I will run one of the shops,” Hill said.
She said she always wanted her girls to have the opportunity to do meaningful work that they love, and to have control in all the decisions they make with that work.
Hill said her husband and son are slightly involved in the business, but Peterbrooke Chocolatier in downtown Tampa is a mom-owned, mom-and-female-run business.
The Peterbrooke company itself began with a mom with a dream, a woman named Phyllis who the ladies intend to honor through social media, and maybe even though a delicious chocolate special on International Women’s Day on March 8.
“I say to women everywhere, accept the acknowledgement and the help from the people that are willing to guide you, the mentors who are willing to guide you, their willing to shatter ceilings for you,” Hill said. “Do not believe you have to do this on your own, we can do this together. And honestly, sometimes, it’s really great guys helping us move forward, too. So there’s value in those collaborations.”
You can visit the family, and score bites such as chocolate popcorn and even chocolate wine, at their location at 777 North Ashley Drive, Suite D-2 in Tampa.