What do you do when you finally pull the trigger on turning a passion into a business? Well, if you happen to do it right before a global pandemic, you prioritize, call out “all hands on deck!”, and stick to your principles. Kishoree Boegel is that woman and when you meet her two things will become obvious. One, she knows her craft. Two, she operates in a straight-talking-no-bs’ing-love-my-tribe zone. We decided she’s just the type of woman who’d be perfect for MNSMom’s new Women-Owned Spotlight. Read on to get to know Kishoree and more about Cocoa Tree.
Can you please tell us a little about your family?
My husband Nick and I were married in 2003 and moved to Mequon shortly thereafter. Both of our kids attend Homestead high school. Jacob will begin his Sophomore year, and his second year playing football for the Highlanders. Mira is starting her Junior year and is looking forward to continuing college visits this summer. Both kids just completed seasons with Highlander baseball and softball teams, along with Bigler and Delta club teams. Nick has been Managing Director in State and Local Tax with BDO for 14 years.
How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
Mira Morgan is 16 and Jacob Rohan is 14.
Where are you from originally and what brought you to Milwaukee’s North Shore area? Why did you choose to live in Mequon?
I grew up in Glendale and attended Nicolet High School. My husband grew up in West Bend and attended West Bend East, so we both had ties to Milwaukee and chose to come home after completing college and grad school. Mequon offered the safe environment we wanted for our kids, along with excellent educational opportunities.
Can you please tell us your professional background?
I have degrees in both Human Resource Management and Labor Economics from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee. Following college, I worked for both Johnson Controls and Arthur Andersen (where I met my husband), and shortly thereafter I left the workforce to be a stay-at-home mom.
Tell us about your journey to opening a chocolate shop and what you love most about being a chocolatier.
I have always been a ‘foodie’ in every sense of the word. Once my kids were a bit more independent, I decided that it was time to have some fun with my hobby and slowly began to explore classes here and there- cake decorating, baking, etc.
Once I had completed just about every ‘hobbyist’ class available, I moved up to professional level courses at the French Pastry School and Chicago Chocolate Academy and the rest is history. I fell in love with all of it.
Opening my own shop was a given, deciding to do chocolate versus pastry was more of a pragmatic decision.
Your approach to making chocolate (and now gelato!) is artisanal and your commitment to supporting other local businesses is what we love seeing! Tell us about your sourcing and why you’ve made a commitment to source from local suppliers even though this isn’t always the cheapest route.
I firmly believe that people will support what they help create, and that includes the community around them. When you open a business, you are making a commitment of sorts to the community around you and I think it’s incumbent upon all of us to support one another, especially now.
We try our best to use local vendors like the Spice and Tea Exchange, local distributors like Occhetti Foods, ABD Printing in Madison, Classic Mix in Appleton, Valley Popcorn Company in Neenah, and of course, Sendik’s right here in Mequon. Milwaukee Blacksmith created the copper sign which hangs in my shop and it’s the item of which I’m most proud.
We couldn’t agree more, Kishoree! We love hearing about your commitment to supporting other local businesses!
Cocoa Tree Confectionery opened in the summer of 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. While many small businesses didn’t survive, Cocoa Tree did. What decisions did you make that you think helped Cocoa Tree weather the storm?
Honestly, the only decision I made that helped me ‘survive’ was to postpone expensive advertising expenditures and keep my labor costs as low as possible. I signed my lease at the end of January and took possession of the space on March 1st- the ball was already rolling before COVID hit and I really had no choice but to keep it moving anyway I could.
You’re a wife, mom, chef, and business owner. That’s a lot to juggle! What’s your mantra for finding work/life balance?
The three letters after my name, my ‘credentials’ if you will, are WMC. They stand for Wife, Mother, Chef. That is the order in which I became the woman I am, and those are the three things that are most important to me. It’s been easy to find a balance because my husband and kids have been a part of the process every step of the way. They’re involved, rather than being just ancillary entities.
You have a passion for all things culinary, and if I remember correctly, you’re especially fond of traditional French pastry. If you could go anywhere in France for a culinary delight, where would it be and what would you look most forward to eating?
That’s a tough question, but I’d have to say Paris. Specifically La Garenne Colombe for a passion fruit gateaux de voyage prepared by Chef Nicolas Bernarde- hands down.
Hmmm…this is very specific. Adding it to the list for our next trip to Paris!
Thank you, Kishoree!