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The Father-Daughter Business Fixing the Broken Chocolate Industry (Episode #109)

If you or someone you know has aspirations to find more meaning and purpose in life, then today’s episode will serve as both inspiration and a bit of a roadmap. Our guests, Shawn Askinosie and his daughter Lawren, have each found their niche. In their working lives, their family business is reinventing one of the world’s most important, and yet unsustainable, luxury items. And all the while they are enjoying wonderful personal lives of deep connection, travel, family and adventure.

About Our Guests

Yes, Lauren and Shawn are living lives that can help us understand our own options when we aspire to have a life well-lived that includes meaningful work that makes a difference. 

Their story –  like that of so many other social entrepreneurs – makes total sense now, over the scope of time, but as they were living it, the journey required a lot of courage, self-awareness and perseverance. 

So that’s what this interview can add to your journey today. 

If you are aspiring to start some project that solves a problem in this world… or, if you are in the middle of that kind of journey, this episode may be a launching pad for many new insights. 

The Askinosie’s story starts with Shawn quitting a successful law practice when he had a family to support. Then, after some searching, he fell in love with chocolate making, dumped all his savings into  starting one of the first craft chocolate companies in the US. 

Lauren was a teen when – despite thinking her dad had lost his mind – she began working alongside him part-time while attending university. 

Very quickly, Shawn started traveling to remote regions of Ecuador, the Amazon, Tanzania and the Philippines to source exotic cocoa beans directly from smallholder farmers and most importantly, he developed a tight system for sharing the profits with them in a way that the giant chocolate companies have never tried. 

That vision touched a cord in Lauren and she immediately recognized her strengths could be applied specifically on empowering women cocoa farmers and the girls in their communities. 

A dynamic duo was formed.

They now include a number of amazing side projects that serve children and communities where their chocolate is produced. 

After meeting Lauren and Shawn, I suspect they DO have the recipe for fundamentally improving the lives of every single person in, or near the supply chain that gets chocolate into the hands of billions of people around the world. 

And why does that supply chain need fixing so badly? Well, we’ll let them fill us in on the details, but it turns out, the chocolate industry has an ugly secret: much of the inexpensive chocolate like we all consume relies on the labor of children and extreme poverty to make the chocolate so cheap.

Conversely, Askinosie Chocolate, is made – start to finish – in a way that honors and truly supports small family farmers around the world, creates well-paying opportunities all along the supply chain, and then takes the profits and turns it into other wonderful projects in the chocolate origin communities.

So what happens once these lovely beans find their way to a “factory.” Well, Askinosie Chocolate is made by hand in small batches at a micro-factory in Southwest Missouri. It has been winning awards and landing on the shelves of shops and specialty groceries around the country.

And somehow, in all that chaos, Lauren and Shawn made the time to write a book together that can inform and improve our own journeys! 

Who knows what the next decade will bring!

What we do know is that Askinosie Chocolate’s business model is a superb example of a rising tide of businesses who are committed to making a profit, while at the same time, making the world a better place.

Lauren and Shawn represent a new entrepreneurial spirit that is signaling the opening of a new era of consumer driven loyalty: one based on how grateful we are for a business’s role in our lives. We will drive a little further, or in the case of acquiring chocolate, we will pay a little more, for a product or service that makes us feel grateful and that the greater good is being served. This is the Business of Goodness that we find ourselves celebrating so often at the Goodness Exchange.

Many of us are also  looking for lives that feel well-lived and at the same time we want to make a difference, perhaps and discover what we are uniquely built to contribute. 

My hope is that this episodes helps you with that journey and perhaps you soon discover a “zone of genius” in yourself that amplifies the Conspiracy of Goodness we are shining a light on here at the Goodness Exchange!


Show Notes


  • Why we shouldn’t buy cheap chocolate?
  • Shawn’s “why”
  • How our “why” can change yearly, weekly, daily
  • It’s not about the chocolate, it’s about the chocolate
  • Kinship with the cocoa farmers from other parts of the world
  • How Lawren supported her dad during her university days
  • Lawren’s “why”
  • Being a part of something bigger
  • Connecting the consumers with the farmer partners
  • Featuring the stories of farmers and giving value on the $12, $14 chocolate bars

  • Direct trade and transparency in the business
  • Gratitude economy
  • Shawn’s life before the Askinosie Chocolates
  • How the chocolate business started
  • Living with the idea of serving people
  • Empowered girls and enlightened boys program
  • The healer becomes the healed, the teacher becomes the student

  • Finding your purpose through serendipity
  • Meaningful Work by Shawn and Lawren Askinosie

[29:59- 32:10] BREAK

  • 70% of world’s supply of cocoa beans comes from the west coast of Africa, Gana, and Ivory Coast
  • Price of cocoa beans has gone down for poor farmers
  • The number of the enslaved children in these countries have increased in the last 15 years
  • Approx. 1.5 million children are involved in the worst forms of child labor
  • The value of buying the Askinosie Chocolate
  • Askinosie Chocolate’s Transparency Report
  • Direct Trade

  • Compassionate about educating the consumers
  • Non profit- The Chocolate University
  • Hosts after school clubs for 1500 girls
  • Teaching them to know their worth, raise their voice, and be the leader that they’re destined to be
  • Watching the boys and girls working as a team
  • Askinosie Chocolate 

  • I wish for people to know the power they have as consumer
  • Where you spend your dollars matters
  • The voice that they hear inside their head is not their true self
  • Support Askinosie chocolate
  • The next level is “Enough”
  • Mindful consumption, mindful acquisition
  • How much is enough?


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