The Healing Powers of Chocolate

Mikki Chewz

2. Zero Hunger 3. Good Health and Well-Being 8. Decent Work and Economic Growth

Overview

Mikki Chewz is a black and female owned chocolatier company that works with sustainable and ethically sourced chocolate to directly raise awareness for mental health. They understand that the chocolate industry giants have ethical problems and they use chocolate that helps pay a better living wage to workers, as well as practice sustainability. They believe that one should spend their money in an ethical and sustainable way to promote small companies like themselves to flourish.


Author

Reave Basa

Reave Basa

School

Loyola University Chicago

Loyola University Chicago

Professor

Nancy Landrum

Nancy Landrum

Innovation

The innovation comes in the circular chocolate that’s packed with a variety of flavors and ingredients. The aptly named “chew” are handcrafted using sustainably sourced chocolate from a local company using all organic ingredients. Ingredients range from vanilla to even dried banana chips and all of the chews are devoid of preservatives or other gimmicks large chocolate companies use to make chocolate with less cacao.


The Healing Powers of Chocolate

Inspiration

The Mikki Chewz’s earliest incarnation happened at a 5th grade science fair where Mikaela Turner, the founder, was tasked with either a research project or to create an invention. As a chocolate lover, she decided to try her hand as making a new candy and it became a hit. There were many iterations of Turner’s chews following the success at the science fair but she brought her 5th grade version to Kendall College, one of the top culinary schools at the time. The chews developed and improved along with Turner’s understanding of business. It’s also where she learned about sustainable chocolate. She learned about the horrors of the chocolate industry with unethical and unsustainable practices that not only hurt farmers but the environment. Through her need for positive change, Kendall College’s business incubator program and both her parents’ encouragement, Turner pushed to make her 5th grade idea a business.


Overall impact

The chocolate Mikki Chewz uses are Fair Trade certified, meaning that it empowers farmers and workers by paying at least a minimum premium that is a living wage and works to cover the cost of having a sustainable production. Along with a better wage, a Fair Trade certification looks at working conditions for workers by having them possess the right for collective bargain. Mikki Chewz as a company also raises awareness of mental health by partnering with an organization that provide mental health care in Chicago. Turner points to how her company has opened the conversation about mental health in the black community and later recalls people approaching to thank her about openly talking about mental health.


Business benefit

Using Fair Trade chocolate ensures there’s a sustainable supply chain for future chocolatiers and chocolate makers to come. It enables investing in sources that ensure farmers not only have a better living wage, but a proper incentive to use sustainable practices in growing their crop. Investing in the community by partnering with local organizations also raises a business’ local profile while having a positive impact within the neighborhood.


Social and environmental benefit

The creation of Mikki Chewz is wholly centered around the idea of sustainability while raising awareness for mental health. A portion of profits are directly donated to NAMI Chicago, an organization that “promotes community wellness, breaks down barriers to mental health care and provide support and expertise for families, professionals and individuals in Chicago and beyond.” Mental health is often an overlooked aspect of health in the broader sense, but Mikki Chewz works to open that conversation in the black community around Chicago by removing the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health. Her work is seen through the partnership with NAMI Chicago as well as the frank and openness Turner speaks to the realities of mental health problems.


By using Fair Trade certified chocolate it promotes sustainable food production systems by providing an incentive for small farmers to achieve a more sustainable way of farming. Through higher premiums it shows local, small farmers the worth of sustainability and helps ensure land and soil quality through such practices. Higher wages also promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth by giving farmers more ways to invest in their product and their communities. The certification also ensures that there are no forced or child labor when it comes to production. It also gives workers the right to collectively bargain which can directly go towards ensuring a safer working environment as well as equal pay.


Interview

Mikaela Turner, Owner

Photo of interviewee

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Mikki Chewz

Mikki Chewz

Chicago, IL, US

Business Website: https://mikkichewz.com

Year Founded: 2018

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Mikki Chewz is a black and female owned chocolatier company that works with sustainable and ethically sourced chocolate to directly raise awareness for mental health. They understand that the chocolate industry giants have ethical problems and they use chocolate that helps pay a better living wage to workers, as well as practice sustainability. They believe that one should spend their money in an ethical and sustainable way to promote small companies like themselves to flourish.