Local Maker Spotlight!

Inspiration Chocolates


We have so many amazing local makers in the region and have decided it is time to start sharing their stories.

Josie Hladki with Inspiration Chocolates seemed like a great person to start with as Inspiration Chocolates was recently selected to be featured in the Made in Alberta Xperience Boxes at the Economic Developers Alberta Xperience 2021 Conference. The chocolates were included in hundreds of boxes that were shipped to virtual conference attendees across the country.

We recently caught up with Josie to find out a little more about her business and her “inspiration”.

What inspired you to pursue this venture in chocolate making?

I was at a crossroads career wise and was feeling very frustrated. I have an engineering geology background, but we had recently relocated to Athabasca and I could not find work. I then pursued a career in financial services but it still did not feel like the best fit. I was feeling all of this frustration and trying to figure out my next steps. I was watching TV one day and a program came on where a guy was making chocolates. It was an “Aha!” moment for me! It all seemed so clear – I would pursue a career in chocolate making! I took a couple of courses at NAIT and even did them twice in case I had missed anything the first time around. As more courses became available, I signed up for those too. This was my first steps into chocolate making.

How has business evolved since you first started Inspiration Chocolates?

I opened my shop in Athabasca in early 2008. At the time, boutique shopping was new to Athabasca and no one was really ready for it or for high-end chocolate. Considering my timing was really off with the market crash in 2008, I did quite well until I closed the store in December of 2010. The local business community has evolved considerably since then. There is a strong shop local mentality and people love knowing where their products are made. Food has also become an art form. Social media has also helped to grow my business considerably – it is easy to get the information out to the public. People are also more interested in the high-end locally made products. The newspaper wrote a couple articles when I won awards and I have had orders placed from people seeing those articles.

Using your business name, what words of inspiration would you give to young entrepreneurs?

Don’t give up! So many times I was close to giving up. It is not easy and can be very frustrating at times. Be passionate about what you do and be inspired by your own success; learn from your mistakes, and use them to grow. To me, that is inspiring.

We so appreciate Josie taking the time to answer our questions, and hope you enjoyed our first Local Markers Spotlight. If you would like to purchase Inspiration Chocolates, you can find them at A Little Bit of Everything or can contact Josie directly at jhladki@mcsnet.ca or 780-213-0418.

If you have a local maker and/or business that you would like to see featured, please email ted@athabascacounty.com.