Accountant bites into chocolate business

Kelly Walker (right,), Dan Steiner and the fruits of their partnership. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Kelly Walker (right), Dan Steiner and the fruits of their partnership. Photos by Michael Thompson.

An accountant and a chocolatier have struck a deal they hope will enrich their business.

Kelly Walker last week sold an 18 percent stake of her company Chocolates by Kelly to Dan Steiner of Steiner Business Solutions, a West End accounting firm. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The transaction came about when Steiner, who does accounting for Chocolates by Kelly, suggested he’d be interested in helping broker deals for a stake in the business. It turned out Walker was already thinking along similar lines.

“I realized I needed more than just the basic business services,” Walker said. “I knew this was going to get much bigger than me quickly.”

Baseball and chocolate meet in this custom product.

Baseball and chocolate meet in this custom product.

The deal lets Walker focus on developing products for the company and tasks Steiner with handling vendors, suppliers and clients. For example, the pair met with the Richmond Flying Squirrels this week about developing laser etched, Squirrels-branded chocolates.

“It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do,” Steiner said of investing in a company. “There’s a world of opportunity through my list of contacts.”

Walker began Chocolates by Kelly in 2008, selling out of a shared Forest Hill storefront. The business opened a shop of its own in 2014 in Church Hill, where it sells its locally made chocolates. In November, the company subleased a 1,500-square-foot production facility near Manchester, where it can produce up to 20,000 one-ounce pieces of chocolate a day. The company used more than 5,000 pounds of chocolate in 2015. Walker said she employs up to 11 people depending on the time of the year.

Chocolates by Kelly sells assorted boxes of chocolate, chocolate-covered pretzels and various kinds of truffles. The salted caramel chocolate is a bestseller. Sales come from both consumers and other businesses.

“We produce tons and tons of pieces of chocolate to be sold to retail customers,” Walker said. “And then we go from there on the custom (jobs).”

On the consumer side of things, the company’s growth plan includes selling memberships for a chocolate club called the Sweet Tooth Society. Memberships include access to discounts, classes and a monthly assortment of gifts. The three memberships start at $50 and go up to $350.

More of its custom work has included laser-etched chocolate for downtown’s Quirk Hotel.

Correction: Chocolates by Kelly’s membership packages will range in price from $50-$350, not $150-$350, as previously reported. 

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Margaret Thompson
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Kelly is lucky to have Dan on her team. I’m ready for some RFM chocolates – let’s do it! Kudos to you both!