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Employee Turned Entrepreneur – Diane Pinder

Posted Under: Entrepreneur, Our Heroes, Startup

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, today we are celebrating the success of the chocolate world with the heart and soul of Donna & Company, the Chocolatier and founder – Diane Pinder. A former critical care nurse, Diane broke out of the corporate pharmaceutical world and created her own world filled with chocolate. Let’s see how she did it…

DD: Who are you and what kind of corporate job were you at?

DP: I am Diane Pinder, master chocolatier since 2005, wife, mother and originally a critical care nurse as well as former account executive for pharmaceutical advertising and medical education.

DD: What made you leave the job? When did you realize that you wanted to be an entrepreneur & why?

DP: The advertising business was very unstable.  Projects would disappear in a heartbeat and it seemed like the clients never knew what they wanted and were never satisfied. I left the job when my husband convinced me that I am very successful when I throw myself into something and eliminate all the distractions. We had looked at buying a gift basket business but that fell through when the owner decided not to sell. ? I always dreamed of having my own business but never thought I could do it until my husband convinced me.

DD: What did you do to break the corporate jail? How did you prepare for the employee to entrepreneur transition?

DP: I took a leave of absence from my job. At the time I had been called to jury duty that was prolonged and required 3 days a week for many weeks.  I found that I was out of touch with my projects at work and felt vulnerable because of it. Additionally, my son who was in the Marine Corps had just been sent to Afghanistan, and I was very anxious for his safety, so I needed time to reflect and figure out what to do. For extra money, I took a freelance job doing medical education programs for a medical device company. I took courses in chocolate making to be sure that I would like it. I identified a retail space, planned and executed  the build out, and took more formal courses to fine tune my skills.

DD: What is one resource (person, coach, book, organization anything) that helped the most/best?

DP: Initially the online school, ecole chocolate.  Later my association with the renowned chef, Craig Shelton.

DD: What do you know now that you wish if only you knew when you made the transition?

DP: I funded the business with personal funds. I would have funded it through SBA or investors.  I would have selected a better location for my business.  Although I did research on the demographics and income of my location, it was really not a good choice.

DD: What are your suggestions for aspiring entrepreneurs?

DP: Do an internship so you get to see things how they really are.

DD: How are you doing and how do you feel now?

DP: After 5 years, my business is finally taking off.  I have worked very hard to get a reputation in my state and the surrounding area as a top chocolatier and my chocolate is selling in many stores in NJ and NYC. I am definitely glad I did it, just wish the recession hadn’t hit just when I was trying to get the business to take off.

That was Diane Pinder, top chocolatier, creating delicious morsels for all to enjoy. Diane and her chocolates have been favorably covered by The New York Times, the NBC Today Show, the Style Network, New Jersey Monthly, New Jersey Life, and numerous other media outlets.  She was named the New Jersey Chocolatier of the Year and is the only Chocolatier included in the book, Celebrity Chefs of New Jersey.  Her chocolates are carried by gourmet retailers, including Whole Foods Market, Food Emporium NY, Kings Market, Balducci’s and specialty shops.

This former critical nurse found her niche in chocolate making and encourages others to follow their dreams. Hard work and a passion for what you do are the main ingredients for success. Diane took a leave of absence from her day job and formal classes to prepare for her escape from the 9to5 jail… What are you doing to escape the rat race? Please share it in comments below. Do you need any help getting out that cubicle? Please get in touch with us via this contact form and let us help you break the 9-5 jail!

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