APPLETON (NBC26) — About a year ago, business at Sapphire Moon Chocolates took a 98 percent hit, said Tarina Swanson, store owner.
“It was dead," she said. "It was horribly dead. It was bad. It’s kind of an odd spot. A lot of people don’t come down here. It’s hard to get the name out there.“
Swanson had to put all of her retirement savings toward the store. Slowly, business started to pick up again as customers sought out sweet treats to cheer them up during the pandemic. The shop started selling treats on Facebook, and their followers helped spread the word.
“We were lucky," said Swanson. "We just stay on and we see new people, so we’re grateful for that.“
As a female, veteran business owner, and the first person in her family to go to college, Swanson is reflecting on how far she’s come this Women's History Month.
“For us, we had a lot of generational poverty and no wealth at all, no schooling or skills," she said. "So for me, it just shows that after all these years and all these different family members, different generations have been able to be a little more successful than the last. And that’s what I tell my kids, is that you do better than what I did.”
There's still a lot of progress to be made, said Swanson.
“Even with all the gains women have made, I still feel it’s accessing capital," she said. "In the business world, you’re still at a disadvantage, no matter the color, just straight up if you’re a woman. I feel that it’s harder. I do.”
After marrying her Muslim-born husband, Swanson became a converted Muslim, but she says the store honors people of all faiths. This time of year, she has Easter candies and displays for Christian customers; a few months ago, she put out menorahs for those who are Jewish.
“We’re all the same, she said. "We really need to support each other that way or we’re going to fail, I think as a human race, if we don’t.“
Located near the Fox River Mall, Sapphire Moon Chocolates is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturdays they close at 3:30 p.m.