Working Women – An Interview About Fertility and Acupuncture

Hi all, this post might be a little off topic for this blog dedicated to DIY and Design, but I wanted to share a personal story related to fertility, hoping it can help somebody.

Growing up, a doctor diagnosed me with polycystic ovaries, so I started taking birth control pills very young. When George and I decided to have a baby, I stopped taking them. It was more than 13 years of putting hormones into my system.

As you can imagine, my body was a total wreck, unable to balance. My periods came and went with complete unpredictability, and there was not a chance in the world I was going to get pregnant like that. After a year of trying, I decided to see an acupuncturist: Virginia Prior. She has a practice in Hermosa Beach, near my home.

Do you know how some people are natural born healers? They have a gift, an intuition to cure your body and soul, well, Virginia has this. After seeing her for two months, I got pregnant. I miscarried that baby at eight weeks, but at least I knew my body was starting to work again. Four months after that miscarriage, I was pregnant with Victor.

I asked Virginia to answer some questions for the blog as a way of teaching people alternative ways of dealing with infertility. I know motherhood has been a beautiful experience for me, so I wanted to share this option with you.

1) How did you decide to become an acupuncturist?

I think I fell into this medicine for a few reasons. As a child, I was often sick, and the medications the doctors gave me were making me sick in other ways. As a teenager, I quit taking all of the drugs they were prescribing and decided to go a different route. I was always going to the library to read books about herbs and foods and supplements that might help me and after a while, I got the hang of it and got better, so there was an early interest in figuring out how to solve health issues naturally.

After college, when I got a job at the Cleveland Clinic, I was able to take advantage of free medical classes, and in the meantime, I was studying martial arts (capoeira) as well as yoga and Qigong (a Chinese internal energy medicine). Naturally, when I found myself in a car accident and staring up at doctors in the ER who wanted to do exploratory surgery on my spine, I thought that maybe I would avoid the surgery and figure this out in a different, less invasive way.

An acupuncturist friend offered to treat me for the extreme pain and dysfunction that resulted from the accident and taught me how acupuncture and Chinese medicine could heal more than just pain. In those months my pain became manageable without medications, my energy improved, my sleep was much better, acne disappeared, my lungs felt better, and my fibroid went away. This was it – I found my path.

How did you become interested in fertility issues?

I was working in an Acupuncture clinic that specialized in women’s health and wellness, and more and more women were coming in for fertility. As I mentored there and treated more and more women, I found myself taking jobs in fertility clinics and doing acupuncture at embryo transfers.

The acupuncture and lifestyle and emotional guidance and support, all seemed to come together in helping the women feel calm and relaxed during the procedures and the process overall, and it increases the chances of conception – some women even fell pregnant before their IVF procedures. There was such a clear idea that this was helping people get healthier and feel better that it seemed like a no-brainer to learn as much as I could about it, so I went back for a doctorate and interned under fertility experts for both female and male reproductive medicine.

3) How many women have you treated regarding fertility issues?

I have treated thousands of women, men, surrogate mothers and even egg donors for fertility problems.

4) What kind of cases do you see the most?

I would say the cases I see the most are complex cases where there are more than two or three disease mechanisms at play, as well as many situations diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” and also many advanced maternal & paternal age cases. Although lately, I have seen an increase in cases where there is often an underlying imbalance involving autoimmunity, and thyroid conditions, such as Hashimoto’s.

5) How do you treat unexplained fertility?

If a person is experiencing unexplained infertility, they should get into a good RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) and begin seeing a fertility acupuncturist sooner rather than later, to turn over any rocks and see if they are missing something in their path to a healthy and successful pregnancy. Sometimes women assume their OB/GYN is also a fertility specialist, and that is often not the case.

Fertility acupuncturists can help with the often overlooked aspects of infertility (autoimmune or thyroid issues, etc.) and an RE will be thorough with questioning and testing so that if there is something amiss (a structural problem such as a blocked tube, hormonal changes, etc.), it will get picked up. Starting treatment to balance the system while testing to find any issues on both the male and female sides is key to treat unexplained infertility.

6) What would be your recommendations for somebody trying to get pregnant?

Establish a good relationship with a doctor they like, and take their health into their own hands, following their gut or intuition as they learn to understand their body and how it is functioning, and what it needs. This way, when they are ready to have children, they will be in a much better place and have much higher chances of conceiving when they want to. I’m always a little surprised when women in their forties come in to try for a child, and they don’t know if they get regular periods, or what is causing the extreme pain they are having, etc. I would love for there to be more education and empowerment in this area for both men and women.

As far as recommendations for women (and men) who want to get pregnant now, it is imperative to practice pre-conception care. This care is greatly overlooked, but the building blocks of your child are not only in the DNA but also in the foods and activities that couples bathe in for a year up until the moment they conceive.

The ancients, all around the world, throughout history, knew this was such an important time for the couples that were about to start building their families. In China, for example, hopeful grandparents would feed their newlywed children celebratory dinners filled with fertility-boosting, nutrient-dense foods.

Acupuncture is a great way of getting your body ready for pregnancy. In our practice, we also do nutrition and other treatments that help to detox the body, and clearing and reducing all the bad stuff in their diet, environment, and life, even emotionally.

I could go on about the recommendations, but I’ll answer your next question…

7) What are the questions regarding fertility that you get asked the most?

The question I get asked the most about fertility is “why?” Many doctors do not have an explanation. So they measure hormones and prescribe drugs and see what comes of it. Fertility and reproductive medicine can be a bit of a black box. Doctors put things in and see what the results are that come out, and then they move forward. This can be helpful, but I think having a multi-layered investigation or approach is way more insightful as to the why’s of infertility.

The other question I get a lot is what are the doctors are missing, and usually, there are a few tests that have not been done. The thyroid tends to get overlooked in many fertility practices, even in the most modern of clinics, so even if there are not sure signs & symptoms, we address this with testing recommendations and treatment. Whether with Western recommendations, or naturally with Eastern and integrative treatments such as acupuncture, and certain supplements and herbal formulas, food and lifestyle changes, even mind-body exercises, to support thyroid function

8) Tell us one of your success stories

One of the most interesting success stories would have to be when a female & male patients came in with AMA (advanced maternal age and advanced paternal age), about 50 & 65, respectively. We worked together for some time, and there was a decision to do IVF (in vitro fertilization) to increase the chances of conception. Within one try the IVF worked. About eight months after having that baby, they conceived naturally as well. Sometimes people want their children very close in age – this was not planned, but greatly welcomed!

Hope you enjoyed the interview! And, thank you, Virginia for your help conceiving my two rascals.

Virginia Prior
2200 Pacific Coast Hwy
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
Phone number(310) 930-5328


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An Interview With Chiara Arroyo, Co-Owner Of LA Libreria

Happy Friday, you all! We are ready for the weekend around here, aren’t you? Good news is that I have a really good post for you today!

You might already know that I am from Chile and that George and I are raising bilingual kids. Children’s books have been an important part of our lives since the kids were born so I am always on the lookout for books in Spanish, that is how I stumbled upon LA Librería, a magical Spanish bookstore (and distributor) in Los Angeles. They import original literature from Spanish-speaking countries plus great translations of English literature.

The first time I went to this beautiful store I met one of the owners Chiara. She was warm and sweet. I liked her immediately. Her daughter, Matilde, was with her that day. We talked about the difficulties of juggling business and family – one of my biggest life concerns. She told me about her business partner and friend, Celene, and how they both deal with the pressures of motherhood and work.

After meeting her I was curious to hear more about how this successful and wonderful business came about. I was also interested in hearing about the relationship between these two very strong and smart women. Starting a business with a friend sounds like a beautiful idea, don’t you think? So I wanted to learn more about how they make it work.

Celene on the left. Chiara on the right.

1) Could you tell us a little bit about you?

My name is Chiara Arroyo. I am a 40-year-old proud mother of three children: Nico 12, Leo 10 and Matilde 7. I am half Italian, half Spanish, married to a Mexican. We moved to LA six years ago from Mexico City. In 2012, I co-founded LA Librería, a bookstore and book distributer specialized in children’s literature in Spanish.La libreria

2) How did you decided to start LA Librería?

Celene (my business partner) and I love books. As mothers, we wanted our children to be bilingual and book lovers. In order to do so, we needed books, but we could not find the Spanish books we wanted in the US, so every time we traveled to our countries we would bring back a suitcase filled with Spanish books. Our kids go to a bilingual school, and we soon realized that other parents were also looking for good children’s literature in Spanish. This is why we decided to take our hobby a step further and start curating a collection of authentic literature in Spanish, beautifully illustrated and culturally diverse.

La libreria

3) Tell us the story of your relationship with Celene. Why did you decide to start this business together?

I met Celene at my childrens’ school: a public Spanish Immersion Elementary. Her daughter and my son Leo were classmates. We were both first time parents of a Kindergartener so we wanted to meet new families and support the school. We both signed up to volunteer at the school’s book fair. Disappointed by the low quality and small number of books in Spanish, we decided to help the school to find a better selection of books in Spanish. We called a few publishers and convinced them to give us some books we could sell ourselves. We set up two tables with books at the fair and sold out everything. Everybody in the school was very excited. Soon the word was out and we started receiving calls to participate in other school fairs. At that point, we realized that there was a big need for these kind of books and that this need had to be fulfilled by a professional service, not volunteers. We started this service and here we are, five years later…

La libreria

4) What are the best and worst aspects of owning a business with a friend?

There are many positive aspects of owning a business with a friend. The best part is the tranquility of working with someone you trust and respect. I also like the capacity of sharing the whole experience with your partner and friend, especially if you complement one another. I feel very fortunate.

The most difficult part is to be able to separate the professional from the personal life.

La libreria

5) What have been the biggest accomplishments of LA Librería so far?

The biggest accomplishment is to see that a bookstore – an already endangered species of Spanish children’s literature, a banned and discriminated language – is thriving thanks to a big community of families that want their children to be bilingual while reading good books. On a personal level, I feel very proud to see how a simple idea has become a reality and how much fun we have had in the process. We have learned so many things we did not know about Los Angeles, like the nuances of the American and Latino culture; we have also met a lot of nice people and communities.

6) And the biggest setbacks?

The biggest setback it is to overcome the feeling that whatever we do is not enough. There is always more to do. No matter how much you work, how fast you do it, how productive you try to be, you always end up feeling you should do more… With time we have realized that this is a marathon, not a sprint, so we need to prioritize.
La libreria

7) Have you ever felt like giving up? If yes, what kept you going?

I have felt exhausted and overwhelmed by work, by being a mother, a wife, a sister… I have felt I am doing things in halves, not in their entirety. What kept me going was the energy and excitement of Celene and the enthusiasms and expectations of the children and families that follow and support us.

8) What are the most important lessons you have learned since starting this business?

I have learned how important it is to communicate, accept your limitations, and exercise. (Men sana in corpore sano).

La libreria

9) You are a family person. Do you feel like you are able to juggle your personal and professional life?

I am able to but it is not easy. It is actually my biggest concern. My children are still young and they need their mum, but LA libreria is also a young business and it is very demanding.

10) How is your husband involved? And, do you feel having a business has changed your relationship with him?

Pablo, my husband, has been very supportive. He is my biggest fan and a very enthusiastic promoter of LA Libreria. He has helped a lot with the children. He understands because he is an entrepreneur himself. I share with him all the details and challenges of starting and running this company. I can say that our relationship has become stronger, but it hasn’t been easy, especially because we have three children in a city with no relatives and with jobs that often require travel.

11) What are your recommendations for other women that want to open their own business?

I would recommend them to enjoy the process as much as the goal. To be creative especially when solving problems; to follow their instinct and do not forget we need to make time for ourselves.

12) How do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself happy, enjoying family and friends. Traveling, learning and reading. I hope LA libreria can give me all of that.

Thanks, Chiara! I really enjoyed reading your answers!

LA Librería

4732 1/2 W. Washington Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016

You can buy books online, too!


Let Us Connect:

Working Women: Elise Xavier, The Life Of A Young And Successful Blogger


I met Elise Xavier through blogging some time ago. She and her husband, Thomas, have a very successful blog called “More than just surviving.” They also have a personal blog called “Elise and Thomas”, which is the one I follow and read often. They have other projects on the Internet and a big social media presence, with thousand of followers in different platforms.

Elise is a very thoughtful writer. Her answers are practical and poetic. They are a window into the views of a younger generation about work, relationships, women, and today’s world. Her opinions on feminism are really interesting to me. They represent exactly what I read about Millennials and their opinions on women’s right.

This interview is about the life of a young blogger and her views about her generation and women.

Could you give us a brief intro about who you are and what you do?
Yup! My name is Elise Xavier. I’m a Canadian from Toronto who’s this year made a cross-continental move to Bournemouth in the UK with my husband, Thomas, and my cat, Avery. My husband and I both work as bloggers, which is why I why we were able to make this move relatively easily.

How did you become a blogger? and, why do you do it?
Short answer is: I wanted to become a blogger, so I started blogging, and from there it’s just the same as any other business, really. Lots of effort, energy, hard work, experimentation, etc.
I wanted to become a blogger because I love both photography and writing, and blogging combines the two in a way that’s always been appealing to me. I also really like web design, enjoy analyzing stats, and find social media sites to be hella fun to use, so it’s worked out quite well to say the least.
If you’re interested in my take on online success, you can read about that here, and if you’d like to learn about my opinion on generating enough income to be a full time blogger, read about it here.

elise-xavier-cat-avery-life-blogWhat is your opinion about having a strong social media presence.
It’s important. Really important.
Social media’s excellent for:
• Leverage. Need to get something done? Have a lot of social media followers? Chances are someone’s going to jump to help you, whether it’s a corporation or an individual you need help from.
• The more engaged followers you have on social media, the more influence you have, and that usually translates into two very powerful things: the ability to get a message out, then from that, the ability to create change. What more could you want from a tool at your fingertips?
• Communicating with your fans, companies, and other influencers used to be a lot harder than it now is. The more you have a presence on social media, the easier this becomes.
• Diversifying traffic to any site is easier with social media. It’s terrible to put all your eggs in one basket – even for where you get your traffic from. You can direct people’s attention to anything from your site whenever you want when you’ve got them following you on social media.
Blogging, social media, and other online platforms are creating not only influencers and experts, but also celebrities right before our eyes. Because what’s the difference between an online celebrity and a tabloid celebrity? Not much in my opinion.
Remember, though, it takes one hell of a lot of time to grow social media outreach. Not only that, but I don’t think it’s the type of thing you can ever really feel you have “enough” of. I’m sure even Kim Kardashian and Kanye West would prefer to have more followers than they do. Once you reach one goal, you start pushing for another because social media is a tool that only grows in value the more you are followed.

Walk me through a normal day in your life.
Oh god, it’s way more boring than you might think. Being a full time blogger I can sum up like this: some days you spend entirely in your pajamas troubleshooting and pounding out new content, other days you get an evening off, many days you wonder whether you spent your day working or just wasting time on your computer – basically your life and your job are both online, so what the difference is between the two becomes hard to say.
Pretty much my day: wake up, turn on computer. Type some articles, check some stats, check in on social media, read some articles, watch some YouTube videos, watch some TV/movies, refresh email multiple times, pay bills, agonize over future decisions, tweak web design a bit, fix that one page I keep forgetting to fix up, worry about what to write about tomorrow, wonder where the time went – all in no particular order – then I turn off my computer and head to bed for the night only to do the same again tomorrow. I can’t even keep track of days anymore, because let’s be real, without a regular work week, what’s the difference?

You are a millennial, what do you think about being a part of this generation that is creating some much buzz?
I’m not 100% sure I’m a millennial. I’ve seen so many different definitions that have different start and end years for this “generation” that I’m not sure which to go by, but I’ll give you a birth year so you can make your mind up for yourself – was born in ’89.
But whether or not I’m a millennial makes no real difference to me: all “youngsters” these days are facing the same problems; we all share similar traits thanks to these generational issues that are just going to get enhanced for the next wave of young people, in my opinion. I’ll get into this more later.
What do I think about being a part/grouped in with a generation creating so much buzz? I’ll answer that question with a question: Isn’t every new generation of youth a buzz-generating one? If we weren’t being discussed at all I might be a little worried.

In which ways you identify with other millennials? In which way you don’t identify with other millennials?
Those problems I was talking about before, for my generation and the ones that will come after it (which is why whether or not you choose to group me into the “millennial” generation, I still feel I understand millennials): they actually stem from an economic problem – from jobs.
I know it may sound strange to hear for those of you who are already minted in the workforce, but I do believe the entire job world has completely changed from the time period of my parents’ generation to now. The issues that these changes formed have molded my entire generation, and will continue to mold those to come, in such a fundamental way that it’s impossible for us to really be understood without a little insight into it.
We were told since we were kids that if we just studied hard, got good grades, went to university where we would do the same, got our degrees and then applied, we’d get a good job, a well paying one, and we’d be perfectly fine. I don’t blame our parents: in their generation this recipe would have worked out 100%, but this is no longer even close to true today.
There are less jobs in our time. There are more individuals retiring later, leaving even less jobs for us because there are hardly any spots emptying for us to fill. There are many more of us with degrees out there, not a surprise since all our parents encouraged us to do the same thing, meaning our degrees have become practically useless to have attained. The vast majority of us want to be fulfilled when we have a job – and can you blame us? We were told since we were young that if we went after what we wanted and just got enough degrees in it, we’d be able to get a high-paying job that we actually liked. Less of us are happy to settle for minimum wage jobs, especially considering we’ve done one or more degrees before getting those jobs, meaning our time spent in school after high school would’ve essentially been useless (except from a personal development perspective). When we do get jobs, they’re low-paying, and it’s not the economy’s fault: it’s just what happens when technology replaces the need for so many people in the workforce. We’re taking forever to get the jobs we do get, and by comparison to our parents, even when we do get them we’re getting paid substantially less than they were?
What does all this mean? It means our generations are finding it a lot harder to move out. To get our own cars. To buy our own homes. Let alone get married, start up families, and do whatever else we might like with our lives. With what money are we supposed to be doing this? This economic problem is only going to get worse in the upcoming generations because, let’s be real, there are going to be a lot less jobs once computers take over nearly everything (self-driving cars, for example, 3.5 million truck driving jobs in the United States alone).
You might call us a selfish, narcissistic generation of youngsters, but in my opinion, that’s just because we’re all more selfish when we’re young. You might call us lazy and say we don’t have as great work ethics as your generation, but really, it’s not ultimately our fault that we can’t get jobs as easily as our parents once did. There’s not even close to as much of a demand for employees. You may call us delusional, but our parents told us all our lives that if we went through lots of schooling we’d end up with better, higher paying jobs that we actually enjoyed. They all told us the same thing, so now we all have degrees and our degrees have become nearly worthless. You might call us unprepared and completely clueless when it comes to the way of the world, but can you blame us when we have little to no life experience because we’ve spent the vast majority of our time in the bubble that is academic life? We were just listening to our parents’ recommendations, for the most part.
So yes, that’s where our generation is at. That’s where the millennial generation stands, and that’s where the generations after look like they’re going to be headed (unless by some miracle we implement basic income, but that’s a story for another day). In my opinion, “millennial behaviour” is all predictable, obvious behaviour. Your generation probably wouldn’t have acted any differently.

elise-and-thomas-xavierDo you see women’s role changing in the world with this new generation? What is your opinion on millennial women.
I’m sorry to say that I’m not a feminist. I love the first wave feminism, but feminism itself has taken on a new meaning in my generation, one that’s not true to the original definition or actions of the first feminists, and one which I’m really not liking.
Feminists in universities of today perpetuate myths, distort facts, base their ideology on lies never questioned in feminism classes – and yet they’re practically rewarded for doing all these things. Do I see a woman’s role in the world changing? No. Why? It’s already changed. Women have kickass jobs, an astonishing amount of influence in the world, and are equal to men. We are not the same as men. Yes, some industries we are paid less than them, and others we are paid more, but that’s due to experience, contribution, and not down to sexism. That’s truly what I believe. The whole “women get paid 70 cents for every dollar a man does” thing is a complete fabrication – not true in the least (Thomas likes to point out, if this myth was true, you’d have the perfect business model: just hire all women, pay them 70 cents on the dollar, and you’ll beat our your competition in no time!). We don’t have to prove we’re men’s equals anymore, it’s not up for debate. We just need to take the place in the world that we want, which we can take and we’ve been able to take for a long time – and that’s that.
There are so many things that disturb me about the overtone of the current feminist movement, but I won’t get into them here. What I will say about millennial women is that they need to stop playing victim. They need to stop fighting against men and need to work with them. Playing the victim and trying to make up for past offences against women does not make women more equal to men. What does? Realizing we’ve won the war against women’s rights in developed countries but that there’s plenty else to be done overseas. You want to help free women and make them more equal to men, do so in cases where women are obviously not equal to men.
Do I think feminism still has a role in developed countries? No. Because feminism is a story about inequality – about fighting for women’s rights. We are equal to men, and I do believe society sees that. Women should be fighting for humanism and not feminism at this point – both men’s and women’s rights should be pushed for. That’s the way forward.
Why is it that fathers don’t often get a paternal leave when they have a kid? What if they want to be stay at home dads? Why is it that fathers have little to no rights to their children in comparison to women, that judges automatically assume the child should be in the hands of the mother? If feminists really wanted equality, they would be fighting, not just for additional rights for themselves that will “level the playing field” (in most cases these additional rights actually give them more rights than their counterparts, which I feel is unfair), they instead would be fighting for men’s and women’s rights until there was equality.
In my opinion, we need to scrap both feminism and menism altogether and just embrace humanism. Though unfortunately, I don’t see this happening, and instead I see just a lot more victim playing on the side of feminists – who seem to want to stack the deck in their favour to make up for past offences against women instead of leveling the playing field in a quest for real equality.

What about partners. What is the biggest difference in how you see your husband than the way your mom does (or did)?
I think the expectations are a lot higher in my generation to find someone who’s not only agreeable to live with, but also fulfilling in absolutely every way possible (emotionally, sexually, mentally, financially, etc.). It’s mad the expectations we put on our relationships these days, but I’m no different. I’m just lucky I ended up with someone so spot on what I both wanted and needed. There’s absolutely no way in hell I would’ve thought I’d get so lucky in this department.


You recently moved from Canada to England. What has been the best and worst aspects of that move?
Canadian culture just didn’t fit myself or Thomas. We’re much more at home here. The food is better, the weather is better (I say, “I hate the cold” so often it’s practically become synonymous with my name), the politics we actually care about, the only thing I can really say the worst part about living in the UK will be for us (not happened yet but it’ll happen!) is the taxation! 😉 Canada’s a lot better on that front. But I consider the taxes here to be our “happy tax!”
I wrote about my first impressions of the UK when we first moved here (you can find that here) and then again 4 months in (here), if that’s something you’d care to read more about.

What do you expect from the future?
Less jobs. Money becoming harder and harder to come by. Hopefully finally an adoption of basic income in as many countries as possible. And ideally a planet that’s less inclined to talk about racism and sexism – not because they’re swept under the rug but because they don’t need to be talked about as much anymore. That would be nice. But hey, not banking on all social issues going away in a few generations.
Technological advancements in the upcoming years should be amazing. Our lifespans will be extended, I think, much farther than we ever would’ve thought. My guess is my generation will frequently live to be 150. Then hopefully we’ll kick death altogether one day, though I’m sure I’ll miss that boat.
For Thomas and I personally, not sure. More projects, more peace and quiet (had enough adventures for some time, thank you! I feel like a hobbit…), another couple fur babies, maybe yes, maybe no to kids. No idea. Basically keeping all options open, and deciding what feels right to do as the time comes. Just the way I like the future now that we’ve got stability under our belt (paid off our flat in full – no mortgage! / And of course have a steady job that we adore!).

What would you want older people to understand about millennials that they might not get yet.
Honestly, just have a little perspective. Ask yourself what you would’ve done if these kinds of economic problems were happening to you, and you’ll get a good idea quite quickly of why we behave the way we do.
I don’t think older people are very different from us at all. Many did more risky and adventurous things than any of us ever have in their own youth. Want to understand a millennial? Think of one you already know. Chances are they’re not completely different from the narrative media tells about them: they probably are a little narcissistic, delusional about the job market, obsessed with celebrities, and a bit on the selfish side. But it’s not the extreme that it’s made out to be. Again, I’d argue, it’s probably quite the same as it was when you were growing up. Only difference is the technology has evolved, allowing those traits to be on display to the world 24/7.
Think about how much you’d changed from when you were a teenager to when you were in your twenties. Then when you were in your twenties to when you were in your thirties. Millennials have a heck of a lot of growing up to do – and that’s not a bad thing. The only difference is their entire lives, their streams of thought, their photographs, their everything, is online and available for everyone to see.
If anything, you should feel bad for them. Imagine all the stupid things you said when you were in your twenties. Now imagine that online permanently for anyone who wants to be able to discover. Yeah. Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to deal with that?
We do – whether we’ve figured it out yet or not ;).

Let Us Connect:

Working Women – Diana Malouf from Ococoa

Let’s talk about chocolate and life passions, shall we?

As much as we all want to join our professional life with our passions, is not always possible. It takes guts and instincts. That is why I wanted to interview Diana Malouf. She did it! She quit her secure full time job less than a year ago to dedicate herself to her true calling: being a chocolatier. That sounds so brave and delicious, doesn’t?

Her brand is Ococoa, and it is one of the best chocolates I have tried in my life. If you don’t believe me, you may believe Bon Appétit, which named Ococoa one of “America’s Best Chocolates.”  You know you are eating high quality chocolate when you try Ococoa products. They have wonderful flavors and a sweet, soft texture that won me over. Here is their website, in case you feel like supporting women, small business, and your belly (this post is not sponsored).

When I heard about Diana, I felt curious. I am drawn to stories of women doing cool things, so I had to ask her some questions that she was kind enough to answer. Here is what she had to say. Also, try not to drool too much when looking at the pictures below!

How did you become interested in making chocolates?

 D: I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands and making gifts for the holidays. One year I thought about making peanut butter cups. I was curious to try other nut butters too and the idea spiraled into our signature 9 – piece Nut Butter Cup collection. At the time I didn’t know anything about working with chocolate, it was a real learning curve. The idea and motivation preceded my skills.

How did you know that this is what you wanted to do with your life? When was your “aha” moment?

 D: I’ve been working on Ococoa in my spare time for years and continued experimenting for fun whenever I had a chance. I was sharing some crazy creation with a friend who pointed out that he never sees me as happy as when I’m describing something new I’m working on. It kind of hit me then just how happy working with chocolate makes me. Also, things in my life fell into place all around the same time. I realized if I didn’t do it now, I’d never have this chance again.

What gave you the strength to leave your 9 to 5 job to pursue your passion? 

D: I had a lot of reasons for not leaving my regular job. Then, one day, I realized all of those reasons were no longer valid. I have a wonderful, supportive boyfriend, an amazing business partner, and some very talented friends who are willing to help. challenges you the most, as both a chocolatier and business owner?

D: I have a lot of ideas for products I’d like to make. But we’re small now so I have to be practical about our production schedule, and all the other logistics involved with producing new products.

What do you think an outsider would find most surprising about your job? 

D: Just how many hats you have to wear as a small business owner. I’ve learned accounting, sales, web programming, to name a few. You learn whatever skills are needed to keep your business running and costs to a minimum.

What advice would you give to someone that wants to start their own business?

D: If you think you want to start a business because you enjoy making XYZ, try making 1000 of them for a deadline.

What do you wish you knew about your business a year ago?

D: There are so many amazing resources out there for small businesses. People really do want to help you and see you succeed.

What are those resources?

There are small business centers all over Los Angeles, staffed with experienced, knowledgeable people. do you find inspiration?

D: I try to keep an open, receptive mind. When I get an idea for a flavor or design, I write it down. When there’s something I want to try making, I become a bit obsessive until I figure it out. It’s a little maddening actually.

What is a typical day like for you?

My partner Liz and I are early birds so we’ll work in the kitchen beginning around 6:30 a.m. and usually finish up around 2. Then there’s the business side of the business that we’ll tend to. I’ll sometimes spend my free time playing around with recipes or trying a new technique.

What’s the best part of being your own boss?

 D: Being in charge.

 What’s the worst part of being your own boss?

 D: Being in charge. do you keep yourself motivated?

D: It’s much easier with Ococoa than it was with my regular job. I simply enjoy making chocolate. There’s a pride associated with making my own product that I didn’t have with my 9-5. I also find space to play with ideas and techniques. That keeps me happy and motivated too.

 What are your goals for 2016?

 D: Continue working on building the Ococoa brand. We enjoy collaborating with others too and are excited for more opportunities to do so.

What are your best seller products? 

D: The 9 piece Nut Butter Cup assortment contains one of each of our signature nut butter cups.

If somewhere would like to try your product, where can they buy it?

D: We are currently in shops in San Francisco and Washington DC and are actively working on finding retail outlets in Los Angeles.   Locals can buy our products online ( and select to pick up their order from our kitchen on Robertson in Beverlywood. It’s best to call ahead though so we can make sure we have product available for pickup.

Thanks, Diana!

On a side note, Ococoa has partnered with the Creamery Salt and Straw in LA to create the Ococoa’s Fig and Sesame Butter Cup ice-cream flavor. It already has amazing reviews, so go to Salt and Straw for your share of belly happiness.

After this post I need some sugar, don’t you? Luckily the weekend is almost here and diet cheating can began! final product

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