Tareq Hadhad, founder of Peace by Chocolate, grew up living and breathing his company’s namesake: sweet, delicious, creamy chocolate. To some, it might sound like a dream. To Hadhad, it was a livelihood. Chocolate was his family’s business. Ever since he was a boy growing up in Syria, he would watch his father make delicious treats to share with the whole community.
“In Syria, it was my father’s passion to make chocolates. He was an excellent chocolatier,” says Hadhad.
The family’s original factory opened in Damascus, Syria in 1985. Life was peaceful until the family lost their business in 2012 to a bombing raid during the Syrian Civil War. During the next three years, uncertain of their future in Syria, Hadhad and his family had to relocate to a refugee camp.
“Our lives had been forever altered and we dreamed of returning to the lives we loved. When our family was invited into Canada and became full Canadian citizens, our dreams came true,” explains Hadhad.
Time to rebuild
Once on Canadian soil, Hadhad rebuilt his father’s business.
On August 10th, 2016 Hadhad and his family opened a chocolate factory in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
“With the support of our new community and the people of Nova Scotia, we have rebuilt our chocolate company and are once again doing the work we love,” he says. “It is also important to us to give back to the community that welcomed us.”
Hadhad’s unique approach to blending Syrian and Canadian cultures has led to an unexpected, but welcomed success for his new business.
“We came here with all of the knowledge, skills and recipes that we had been making in Syria for the past 35 years,” says Hadhad. “We are now mixing those traditions with Canadian culture by creating chocolates shaped like maple leafs or including maple syrup into some recipes.”
At this moment in time, the website’s homepage features its Canada 150 box, a note about sharing peace and prayers during Ramadan and a video of Justin Trudeau telling the Peace by Chocolate story at the United Nations.
For the company’s first three months, Hadhad operated out of one single store in Halifax. As word spread and demand increased, Hadhad knew it was time for Peace by Chocolate to establish an online presence. From there, customer demand continued to grow.
“Moving our business online helped a lot. It gave us publicity and it gave us credibility. We want them to know where they are getting their products from and show them that we are proud to be Canadian,” says Hadhad.
The company name, Peace by Chocolate, reflects the multicultural country we live in, Hadhad says. With each chocolate treat sold, Hadhad hopes to spread the word of peace and inclusion around Canada:
We needed something that would reflect peace because peace is the noblest value. And also chocolate is the product of happiness — the magic product of happiness.
More than a business tool, the Peace by Chocolate website is a vehicle for telling Hadhad’s family story and showing refugees they too can succeed in Canada.
“Peace by Chocolate helps confirm the resilience and determination of entrepreneurs and shows them that they can restart anywhere,” says Hadhad. “We are spreading happiness by each piece of chocolate we are making.”
On choosing a .CA
By choosing a .CA domain name, Hadhad says, he knew his website would be trusted and respected by his customers all around the world.
Even though Hadhad plans on expanding his business internationally, he says that the .CA will forever remain his domain of choice to show the world that Peace by Chocolate is proudly Canadian.
This article was produced with the support of StartUp Canada to profile Canadian businesses.