RALEIGH, N.C. — The chocolate industry saw major growth during the pandemic. Online chocolate sales also skyrocketed by 76%, according to a recent report by the National Confectioners Association.

Now, two Raleigh women are looking to make their mark on the industry with the launch of their new business.

What You Need To Know

  • Spring & Mulberry is based in Raleigh and was recently launched by two friends

  • The brand uses dates to sweeten its treats instead of sugar

  • One of the co-founders is a breast cancer survivor and her health journey inspired her to focus on the quality of ingredients in food

Kathryn Shah and Sarah Bell are behind the brand Spring & Mulberry. They’re hoping to offer a healthier alternative to sugary snacks.

“Our dream is to be the next Godiva,” Shah said. “Basically, be a Godiva for a modern consumer who wants a beautiful, elegant, simple brand and wants high quality, nutritious ingredients.”

The two friends are well on their way to accomplishing that lofy aspiration.

Spring & Mulberry was years in the making.

“All of our products are sweetened only with dates. We love dates because they have a ton of antioxidants and are fiber rich and are also a whole fruit versus a sugar,” Shah said.

While they were developing their products, Shah and Bell spent a lot of time in the kitchen in order to perfect their prototypes.

Now that they’ve launched their online store, their products are made in a wholesale-friendly environment.

Ingredients in food became more important to Shah a few years ago.

“I eliminated refined sugars and added foods high in antioxidants, like ingredients at Spring & Mulberry. And for me, that was really a rebirth of my life back to kind of resetting and thinking about what goes in my body and how that affects how I feel, how I look, how I carry myself,” Shah said.

Shah’s renewed focus on health came when her own was in jeopardy.

“In my early 30s, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and it was really traumatizing because no one expects to be diagnosed with such a difficult disease so early in their life,” Shah said.

But she has never been someone to run away from a challenge.

“I think it's all about attitude, having a positive attitude and believing you can do it and get through it,”said Shah said.

She says there are similarities between her journey with cancer and now as the co-founder of a business.

“When the odds are not in your favor, just put your head down and do all the right things and take it step-by-step,” Shah said.

Shah also says COVID-19 affected the launch of Spring & Mulberry, which ended up taking about two years.

She says even though the pandemic has been going on for more than a year, shipping costs and the supply chain, including the global supply of almonds, are still being impacted.