Makers ~ Lindsay Tarnoff

Owner’s name: Lindsay Tarnoff
Shop name: Laughing Gull Chocolates
Twitter: laughinggullri
Instagram: laughinggullri

1. Tell us about your business.
Laughing Gull Chocolates brings together chocolate - the food of the gods - and the community in order to truly make a difference today, in our community and in the communities that produce our beloved chocolate. Laughing Gull uses all direct trade, organic chocolate and locally, ethically sourced ingredients to make premium chocolate products such as truffles and chocolate sauce. We also offer periodic workshops so you can practice making your own truffles!

2. Is there a story behind the name of your business?
For me, chocolate conjures up happy moments, both for myself and with my family and friends, and I wanted a name that conveyed that feeling, as well as something that sounded like Rhode Island. A laughing gull is a local bird, and chocolate often brings about smiles, so when we came up with it, it felt right. Around the time I was starting the Laughing Gull Chocolates, my grandmother passed away; she was an avid bird lover, and towards the end of her life, would eat only chocolate. Laughing Gull felt like the perfect tribute to her, and I believe she would love what the company is.

3. How did you get started?
I've always been a chocoholic - I grew up in a family of bakers and sweet tooths. I took it a step further when I decided to write my capstone paper in college on the history of the morality of chocolate. I had been to the border of Mexico and Texas at a time when fair trade coffee was just emerging, and that experience had a significant impact on me. When people asked what I wanted to do after college, I started answering that I was going to save the world with chocolate. I didn't know how at the time, but I knew chocolate was a fun way to change the world. The idea had been brewing in my mind for about ten years, (I even took classes at JWU) and in fall 2014 after Hope & Main opened, I sold my first box of chocolate truffles.

4. Who is your target customer?
Any chocoholic - or perhaps someone who does not yet know they love chocolate is a target customer, as well as people who care about the quality and source of the ingredients and want to support local business.

5. What do you love about what you do?
Everything! I started the business because I loved chocolate and was passionate about making a difference, but Laughing Gull Chocolates has grown to be so much more. I love making truffles - the process is almost meditative. I love trying new flavors and coming up with the perfect combination of ingredients for a truffle or sauce. I love introducing people to our truffles, and I love being a part of the growing food communities in Rhode Island.

6. What’s your best seller?
Everybody has a different favorite flavor truffle, but the best seller is salted caramel chocolate sauce.

7. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I grew up in Rhode Island, and returned a few years after college, and have been here ever since. While the business may expand, it's home and heart will always be in Rhode Island.

8. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
The ocean and the beauty of the state go without saying, but there is a camaraderie and energy that I think is unique to Rhode Islanders. People are truly passionate about what they do, and about why what they do makes a difference, and I think that is beautiful. It makes RI a special place to be.

9. Any advice for people wanting to get started in the business?
If it is something you love, make it happen. Be persistent, and work hard; it won't be easy, but it really is worth it.

10. Favorite place to take out-of-staters?
Too many to list! Visits usually center around food and restaurants, but I love to take friends and family to Colt State Park and India Point Park, two very different, beautiful parks, and places that have meant a lot to me over the years.

11. Please include anything else you’d like to add:
Find our truffles and/or sauce at Sweet Lorraines, Grapes and Grains, Toms Market, Pantry at Avenue N, Stock, Campus Fine Wines, Johnson's Roadside Market and Le's Isle Rose, as well as farmers markets at Hope & Main and Hope Artiste Village!


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