Bajari Handcrafted Chocolates, a small chocolate factory located in Puerto Rico’s western region, got its start more than 10 years ago selling a variety of chocolate flavors for different occasions to consumers and retailers islandwide.
To get off the ground, Bajari — which means “high respect and distinction” in Puerto Rico’s native taíno dialect —invested between $50,000 and $80,000 to launch the business that sources cocoa from farmers in Añasco, Adjuntas, Moca, Las Marías, Aguada and Ponce.
The owner of Bajari, Paul Curran, is a young entrepreneur who started experimenting with chocolate in his kitchen trying to create the perfect gift. Fast-forward to 2021, when he now promotes and takes orders online, while still selling and producing chocolates of the highest quality.
His products are sold individually and also distributed to other businesses such as coffee shops, stores and pharmacies to resell the brand, with Walmart as a prior outlet for the local chocolate line.
“In pounds we’re moving like, 100, 200, like 300 pounds of chocolate monthly, approximately. There are months that it’s not sold as much, there are months that it’s sold more,” he said.
Curran started the business in 2010 by opening a line of credit provided by a bank’s start up program when he came to the realization that there wasn’t a brand with “pretty packaging” and wanted to make sure the customers felt they were receiving something special.
Bajari now produces chocolate bars, block chocolates, coffee bites, chocolate truffles filled with flavors such as amaretto, vanilla, pistachio, lavender, guava, and passion fuit, among others, ready to be ordered for events such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas, and also to be sent as corporate gifts.
Additionally, the operation also makes private labels with logos for people interested in creating a brand which has taken a big part in their business.
“That’s where Bajari was born, from that vision that we had to make a chocolate ready to give away, that when the person receives it, they know that it was with love, special and all that,” Curran said.
As an entrepreneur, he believes there should be programs specialized to help people like him after they open their business and advises newcomers who aren’t clear with their brand idea to go for it and fix mistakes as they go along.
He also said there will never be a “perfect” product that fully works in the market and that “without putting yourself out there, you’ll never know if the product or idea will really take.”
“We’ve seen it throughout history that products are launched and are fixed with people’s feedback,” he said.