Episode 274

Building a (Chocolate) Legacy with Ella Livingston

November 9, 2021

What is your legacy? Starting a business is a generational venture for many business owners in today’s world. In this episode, Emily Thompson chats with Ella Livingston of Cocoa Asante about how starting a business can contribute to building a legacy for your family. They discuss how the chocolate industry works, why Ella is passionate about sustainable and ethical cocoa farming, and how it all ties into her vision of building a lasting legacy for generations to come.

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Discussed in this Episode

  • Ella’s story of how she got into the chocolate business
  • How to chocolate industry works, the breakdown of profits from the world’s chocolate model
  • What Ghana is doing in taking a stand against chocolate corruption
  • Ella’s family cocoa farming story and the legacy she wants to leave behind
  • How building a legacy is fueling Ella and the women in her family to build more opportunity
  • What other types of legacies we can connect ourselves with other than strictly family legacy
  • Thinking about building better legacies and breaking old ones
  • How Ella is implementing her larger vision into upcoming business goals

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[00:00:00] Emily Thompson: Welcome to Being Boss, a podcast for creative business owners and entrepreneurs who want to take control of their work and live life on their own terms. I'm your host, Emily Thompson. And today I'm joined by guest Ella Livingston to learn more about the chocolate industry and explore the idea of building and breaking legacies within our families, communities,

[00:00:22] and industries. As always you can find all the tools, books, and links. We referenced on the show notes at www.beingboss.club.

[00:00:34] Sometimes seeing someone else's path to success helps us clearly map out our own. It's why we all like a business podcast. Right? Well, I'm here to share a show for you to check out the Female Startup Club Podcast. An amazing resource that shares insights and learnings from the world's most successful female founders, entrepreneurs, and women in business.

[00:00:56] And a recent episode, I loved hearing about how Michelle Grant, the founder of lively, the laundry and swimwear brand built and sold her company for 105 million. And just three years, total boss move. So if you're looking for a new pod to inspire your next steps, listen to the female startup club podcast, wherever you get your podcasts.

[00:01:25] Ella Livingston is the co-owner and founder of a premium chocolate company called Cocoa Asante. She was inspired by her family's background in the cocoa industry in Ghana, as well as her travels abroad. Her business partner, Natasha Guerrero joined in 2021 as co-owner and head chocolates here. Their goal is to have an upscale Bean The Bar shop that sources cocoa beans directly from Ella's families farm.

[00:01:51] The shop will allow customers to tour the facilities so they can see how chocolate is made and learn more about the inequities that exist in the industry and what Cocoa Asante is doing to make a difference. Ella, welcome to being boss. Thank you so much for joining. 

[00:02:08] Ella Livingston: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

[00:02:10] Emily Thompson: I'm excited to have this conversation. I gave a little bit of an intro just now for the listeners, but I also want to say that I have had the pleasure of seeing Ella at pop-ups at the market. I've had our chocolate multiple times. I've bought it for a couple of holidays over the past year or so. It has been such a pleasure to get to know you a bit.

[00:02:32] Also your chocolate will be asleep too, to eat your chocolate. I, was at a session that you did at common house with the chattery. We've had Shawanda here on the podcast before, who is co-founder of the chattery for a really amazing session that you gave. And once hearing you speak, cause I've eaten your.

[00:02:53] Yes, but after having heard you speak, I knew I had to come have you share this perspective and this experience with our audience. So let's give it to them. I'm excited to dive in. 

[00:03:06] Ella Livingston: Let's go. Let's get it. 

[00:03:08] Emily Thompson: Perfect. It's then to get us started, we like to start with entrepreneurial story. How did you get to where you are today?

[00:03:17] Ella Livingston: Oh, my goodness. Where do I begin? So I always start by sharing that, Cocoa Asante is my way of extending my family's legacy. So I came from, I'm from Ghana, which is in west Africa and in my family, we have cocoa farmers. And my mom would always tell me that. But it would always like go in one ear and go out the other, I wasn't really paying attention.

[00:03:44] I, I was, what does it matter to me? Cocoa farmers. And she would always say, God is known for having the best, chocolate, the best cocoa beans. And like I said, it didn't mean much to me until I studied abroad. And when I would say gotten, from Ghana, the first thing people would say [00:04:00] is, oh, chocolate.

[00:04:01] And I was like, wait a minute. Maybe my mom was really onto something because in the U S like, nobody really cares that God is known for chocolate, but abroad, where, quality high quality chocolate is really valued. They know Ghana is a place that you want to get source your beans from. And so that kind of got the gears turning, of, Let me, creating high quality chocolate with, the cocoa beans from Ghana.

[00:04:27] And, I came to the U S con forgot about the dream. And then one day my dad was just like, Hey, didn't you want to like start a chocolate company? And I was like, oh yeah. So then I literally started, I got a name. And then I started to look up how to make chocolate. Right? Cause I had no experience, no formal training.

[00:04:46] I just knew the tastes that I was going after. After I had experienced, high quality chocolate in Japan, I knew the taste and experience and the feeling I wanted my customers to have, but I didn't know how to get there. So it was a lot of YouTube university, Google university, looking at blogs and reading through different like, pastry chef posts and, On the business side.

[00:05:09] I knew that I didn't want to feel as a business. The failure rate for small startup businesses is so high and it's even higher for, women owned business and higher for black owned business. So it was almost like I had always checks going against me. So I got the support that I needed through, local nonprofits or heaters support businesses.

[00:05:28] I think they're nationwide. So you might even find your own local chapter, but launch, the company lab, different, the small business, association, incubator programs, any, and everything I could get support from. I pretty much utilize them as a resource and little by little, I mean, we've grown from me, not even knowing how to work with chocolate, to me that I didn't have a business partner.

[00:05:54] Went to pastry school in New York who moved down here to help me build the business. And this is the first year we've been operating year round. And so it's been exciting to see the growth. We also even just added our first part-timer, there'll be well. Yeah, we're going to be onboarding them in the next couple of.

[00:06:11] So that's really exciting. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So yeah, a lot, a lot of growth has happened. And in between that, I became a mother I'm still working full time. And so balancing all of that has been a journey, but I'm excited to see where we go from here. 

[00:06:28] Emily Thompson: I feel like I remember seeing you maybe at the market the first time.

[00:06:34] I mean, what is time? I remember seeing you at some point a while ago about that. And then I felt like I was seeing you everywhere. And my friends were saying, did you, have you snagged them at chocolate yet? Have you, they're doing this pop-up over here. And even just now I was telling, I was telling someone locally that I was about to interview for the podcast and they were like, oh my God, I love their chocolate.

[00:06:59] Like, I feel like, I feel like you probably don't even understand how much you have, how much your brand has grown locally and to see the trajectory that it took of like, just sort of seeing around to now again, anytime anyone says anything about let's do a pop-up let's do a market. Are you going to this thing often?

[00:07:19] Like your name comes up. All the time as a local business. Well, you're doing it. You aren't 

[00:07:26] Ella Livingston: doing it right. It doesn't seem like it's sometimes from the inside out, but I re I really appreciate hearing. Yeah, you're 

[00:07:36] Emily Thompson: showing up, you have a great product. You have this amazing story behind it. That means something.

[00:07:42] And. Funny comparison. David, my partner, David, who you, you, you, I think you've even said Almanac like David and Almanac or synopsis anonymous. He got some coffee from someone at the market once and, the same market that, all max out and Cocoa Asante is at, and David got some coffee and, asked the guy he's like, so tell me, tell me about this coffee business.

[00:08:08] He's like, oh, we're retired. And I bought a, I bought a roaster.

[00:08:11] Ella Livingston: I'm 

[00:08:11] just seeing exactly who you're talking about. This my neighbor. 

[00:08:16] Emily Thompson: Good. David was like, oh, Okay. I mean, it's cool. Coffee was great, but walk up to someone who has selling chocolate and they have this amazing story of their family and them getting into this family business and, and all the things like there's a different.

[00:08:33] There is a difference that that happens. Whenever you are bringing this amazing story, not just necessarily, not that like an interesting hobby, isn't something you can base a business on. But there is this strength and longevity that comes from not only the story, but also a really great product.

[00:08:52] And I think that you're doing that. So appreciate it. 

[00:08:55] High five. 

[00:08:56] Ella Livingston: Thank you. 

[00:08:59] Emily Thompson: Perfect. Okay. Before we get into some nuts and bolts things, cause I want to dig into a couple of these story things and really get into. One of the things that I have found most interesting about your story. I want to get to the, something that is also incredibly interesting, and that is simply the chocolate industry, because I told you before I eat chocolate every single day, like it's a daily ritual that I have that at about two or three.

[00:09:23] I feel myself going, I'm missing something. I'm missing something from my life. And so I'll go to my chocolate stash. I have one in all of my workspaces have one year to so grab some here at my office. I have some at home, like I have my chocolate stashes, I'll go get a single piece of chocolate snack on it and then go about my day.

[00:09:43] It's like, am I like afternoon coffee or whatever. Anyway. And I feel like most bosses have some sort of similar ritual in their life. Definitely eating chocolate often. But it's funny because of all the things. That we do, chocolate is the one process, the one industry, the one business model that I actually don't know a ton about.

[00:10:05] So I'd love for you to fill us in a little bit. I'm sure it could be quite extensive, but at least maybe where you are fitting in the chocolate industry, where does it come from? How does it work? What are you trying to do? What are you trying to do different.

[00:10:21] Ella Livingston: Gotcha. Well, yeah, in a nutshell, cause like you said, it can't get extensive.

[00:10:26] You know that Netflix, I don't know. Can I say Netflix on here? Absolutely. Netflix.

[00:10:35] So there's a documentary on Netflix and it kind of talks about like, it goes into different industries and it shows behind the scenes and like all the inequities that exist. I think the first episode was about bees. Another episode they did like. Those quick cash loan places. And you're watching these shows and you're just like, as you get deeper and deeper, you're like, oh my gosh, I can't believe it's like this.

[00:10:56] Oh my gosh. Why are they doing this? Oh my gosh, there's so much greed. [00:11:00] And the deeper you dig into the top of industry, you realize that. The same thing. So, the cocoa beans are pretty much grown in warm tropical climates. In Ghana, west Africa, I will say in south America, and about 60% of the entire world, cocoa beans supply comes from two countries, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire.

[00:11:23] So they're like neighboring countries and 60% of the world's cocoa beans come from those two countries. And why. The majority of the world, the world took a beans come from there. When you look at the breakdown of where profits go, you realize that when it comes to the breakdown of the model, oh, I shouldn't say profit.

[00:11:43] Say revenue. Only 6% of all the money that's made in chocolate. And it's like a 20 man. I forgot my zoo, 20 something billion or 200 something billion, either way. It's an astronomical amount. And out of that entire amount, only 6% goes to the cocoa farmers. And mind you, they're doing so much work well, where's the rest of the money going.

[00:12:06] It's going to the middleman. It's going to those who are processing the cocoa and it's going to the retailers. And so, the cocoa farmers make so little money that they oftentimes have to take two or three other jobs, just to make sure that their families are able to eat, able to survive, et cetera.

[00:12:25] And so seeing that inequity exists, that's part of the reason why Coca was scientists here. Like we want to make a change. So our plan there's we have a plan out to fronts. We want to affect the cocoa industry one by owning the entire being the bar. So once cocoa is grown and it's harvested and it's dry and it's fermented it's then packaged and sold the pound to the cocoa board, the cocoa board almost act like a middleman and a lot of countries who processed cocoa.

[00:12:58] And a lot of  Western countries and in north America, they come and they buy the cocoa from the cocoa board and then they take that chocolate and then they, Themselves. And that whole processing is extensive and it's expensive. And then the retailers purchase at wholesale and then they made the chocolate products.

[00:13:17] So right now we're pretty much a retail. We don't have the equipment to process the chocolate ourselves, but we want to, and once we're B we're able to be being the bar. I want to actually directly source from my family's farm. And, and then as we grow from, neighboring farms, how we make a difference by paying

[00:13:36] more money so the farmers like it shouldn't be right. It's a simple solution. So that's one way that we want to affect change. The second way Ghana recently took a stand against, I believe it was Switzerland. So Ghana came and said, Hey, like, our farmers, aren't making enough money. We're going to raise the, the minimum price to the certain amount.

[00:13:57] Y'all can afford it. It's not that much. We're not asking for it. They're not even asking honestly, for what they're worth, you know what I'm saying? If 60% is coming from this country, like they have anyways, but so they, they didn't even ask her that much. And Switzerland was like, no. And so the president of Ghana,

[00:14:15] so proud of him, there was a diplomatic meeting and he was just like, we've tried, blah, blah, blah. We had these great relations, but from here on out and gone, we'll no longer export chocolate to your country. And we're going to add, girl, I was so proud. I think I shed tears. He's like, we're going to, process the chocolate ourselves in our own country.

[00:14:35] We're going to add value to the product. And then we're going to export the product ourselves. There's a lot that goes into that. And Ghana is still developing the infrastructure to be able to do it. But I'm so, so, so, so proud that they took a stand against a large country and such a wealthy country like Switzerland.

[00:14:53] Because oftentimes when, countries like Ghana, take a stand for themselves. Rightfully so, they're met by so many sanctions. And so I'm proud that they're able to, we're able to stand up regardless of what the consequences may be and say, Hey. You guys didn't value us as we should've been valued.

[00:15:09] And so we're going to do it ourselves. So the second part aspect of what Cocoa Asante wants to do is we want to build a processing plant in Ghana, and processed chocolate back at home as well. And it'll be, it'll be the same company, but kind of separate. So I guess Cocoa Asante will be like the north American country, a company, and then we'll register.

[00:15:30] We've actually registered another company. It's the same name with different spelling, different, slightly different logo, in Ghana. And we're getting ready to take the steps on, taking back, taking back what's rightfully ours. Yes. 

[00:15:46] Emily Thompson: Okay. Couple like weird little questions. One the bean board is that a government board in Ghana? 

[00:15:57] Ella Livingston: From what I understand, man, I don't even [00:16:00] know. I don't know if it's private or government government owned. Yeah, I, I don't know. I guess that's something that I need to figure out cause I'm still learning about how things running Ghana. 

[00:16:10] Emily Thompson: So, okay. And then that's one thing. And then two, are you able to buy around the bean board?

[00:16:17] Ella Livingston: So when I first started this, my mom told me the answer was no, but I believe that I'm able to directly source it myself. So that I, exactly, exactly. And so if, because a lot of the farmers, like, it's not like they have access to the companies themselves. Right. And so what happens is you're selling, you're selling whatever you harvested.

[00:16:36] And then they, the cocoa board gets to decide like, okay, this is high quality chocolate. We're only gonna sell this amount. Or if it's going to accompany. Like a larger company that doesn't really make high quality chocolate. They often just, yeah, they just mix a conglomerate of different like cocoa beans.

[00:16:54] It doesn't matter the quality, it doesn't matter. And then they sell that. And so sometimes the farmers. They can't there. What they harvest is not enough for them to take, to accompany themselves. Like I said, they don't have the connects, but if we come in and we're saying, Hey, we're specifically looking for you guys.

[00:17:12] And also, Hey, this is my cousin. Like my cousin is the one who runs our farm. So, we have that direct contact and be like, okay, we're just going to get it directly from you. You don't have to go and sell it by, by weight. And under be undercut, right? We're going to pay you more than what you w double what you're getting triple, what you're getting.

[00:17:31] Emily Thompson: Oh, I hope that doesn't make the pain board angry. 

[00:17:33] Ella Livingston: I hope so. Like, I don't see, I don't know what I'm going against, but like with, without, if it wasn't for the pandemic, I had planned to make a trip in 2020-2021. To just learn and see what, what, what all I could do. But that's been held back. And so we're more so focusing on growing it on this end.

[00:17:54] And building that demand that when we go back home, it's like, okay, like, no, we're, we're ready to launch. Like we need, several tons, not just, kilograms, but we used several tons of chocolate, to be shipped us, you know? 

[00:18:07] Emily Thompson: Wonderful. 

[00:18:07] Okay. So you then, well, okay. A couple of things once, like recap, So Ghana is wanting to build, processing into how it is that they are sort of packaging up chocolate and shipping it out.

[00:18:20] So it's not just raw chocolate, right from the farm. And you are wanting, are you wanting to build your processing in Ghana too? Or are you wanting to build your processing here in America? 

[00:18:33] Ella Livingston: So I'm planning on doing both. Yes. So at first I just wanted to process here, and have people come in and tour the facility, see how we, see how we make chocolate.

[00:18:43] Yeah. Learn about the industry and then the same tacos they saw being processed or eating. Right. So that's part of the plan. The, what I want to do in Ghana is more so going to be like the chocolate that we process is going to be wholesale, because I also know it's very important that Ghana's really, processing in house adding that value.

[00:19:03] And so what we sell here is going to be more so retail, Coverture chocolate fond, bonds, bars, really delicate pieces. But then what we do in Ghana is going to be, we're going to be wholesaling. And so when chocolateers and other pastry chefs are looking for a chocolate brand, they can come get that from us and Ghana.

[00:19:24] Emily Thompson: Oh, I love what that does, because that really does take out several of the middleman if no one is processing in Ghana, but let's say you are a chocolate tier. Chocolate chocolate, 

[00:19:34] Ella Livingston: Chocolateer.

[00:19:37] Emily Thompson: I think I just made restaurant tour and chocolate here. The same thing. So, okay, so you're a chocolateer here. You want Ghana beans? You have to go not to Switzerland, but to some other like third country, second, third, third country to get, because they're processing it, correct. You can't go to Ghana and get processed beans. You have to go to the wherever is processing Ghana beans to get Ghana chocolate.

[00:20:05] Ella Livingston: Yeah, for the most part there's there are, I think there's there's one large company gone right now. And maybe there's three, it's not very many that actually processes chocolate, in Ghana. But like I said, there, there's not very many. And so we want to kind of be a part of that change because cocoa beans are, it's our number one export.

[00:20:27] So the fact that there's so few companies that process. It's kind of, it's a little alarming. So yeah, right now the, the cocoa beans that we source right now are from Ghana. But like you said, we have to go through a third party. So I'm because I want it to be processed. And so I'm going through a company that's based out in Europe to get cocoa beans from Ghana and that's.

[00:20:50] I don't, I'm still getting a couple of being from Ghana, but to me that's like, it's, I'm not there yet. I'm working as fast as I possibly can try to grow as much as I can so that I can just cut that out as fast as possible and just go directly to the source. 

[00:21:06] Emily Thompson: Wonderful. I love all this, but also whoa, and good luck.

[00:21:14] That is a lot, but like, but I totally see why all of that matters and, and across the board, right. It matters for the farmers in Ghana. It matters for the Ghana Ghana. You Ghanian, thank you. The Ghanian economy in general, to have more of that money staying in the country. It does for anyone here wanting to source those beans, you actually get to go to the source to source those beans.

[00:21:42] And I also just love that you are doing this too, from this place of legacy. If we can move into the next topic too, because for you, it is so much more than just coffee. This is what your family has been doing for generations. So I would love to hear from you then the next piece of this puzzle in terms of your family legacy and really why it is that you are in chocolate now.

[00:22:14] Ella Livingston: So. Like I said before about my mom telling me that our, our family grew cocoa. We grow a lot of the things, but that's like one of the main things that we grow. And, just knowing that, we do that, but it's not enough to sustain. So, this is just saying those of us who rely on it, my cousin who manages our farm, like he also has another job and he also grows other crops.

[00:22:39] And so, this is really personal, you know what I'm saying? And I'm now what I'm doing is not just for my family, but I also want to make change in Ghana. So it's also like the cultural legacy that I have being, being a Ghanian, and loving my country. I want to see it progress. And so that I want to have that impact that you have that change.

[00:23:00] Or what am I imp make an impact? Sorry. So I want to make an impact, and affect change and leave that legacy. And then now that I have, a daughter of my own, I want her to be able to, she's born in America, she's not born in Ghana, but we speak the language to her. We try to make, she eats the food.

[00:23:21] And so I wanted to have deeper ties to home with what we do as a family, with the family business. I really want us like. And what my family does. We don't just grow your cocoa beans, but we process it and we create the, the beautiful end product. And you, the customer as the customer, that, we've had control of the whole entire process.

[00:23:42] We're giving you a high quality product and that it's fair trade and sustainable. There was no child labor involved. And so you really feel good about what you're, what you're consuming. It's, it's a quality product that tastes delicious and you can feel good about.

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[00:25:52] And I remember something to that you mentioned during the session that I was sitting in a couple of months ago, and you were talking about how farm land is handed down from generation to generation. Can you speak on that a little bit? 

[00:26:07] Y'all this is great. 

[00:26:08] Ella Livingston: Yeah. Yeah. So my mom is just man, she just tells me all these great things.

[00:26:14] So she was explaining to me how, family inheritance. So anything that you can inherit from your family comes through the maternal line. So in Ghana, We value everything. It's a matriarchal society. We value women. And I mean, you'll even see that Ghanian women have some of the highest rates of entrepreneurship, you know?

[00:26:34] And so she was telling me that family land is passed down through women. And so for example, she and her sister have inherited basically all the families like land. Like anybody in the family can use the land. We have hundreds of acres. You can live on land and build your house, whatever you want, but

[00:26:53] the name of the it's in, it's in our family name. And they're the only ones who have any legal claim to it.  And, so if my mom she's had two sons and then she's having me a daughter, my brothers can't lay any claim to the land only I can. And then if my brothers have daughters, they can't lay any claim to the land because they came through my brothers.

[00:27:15] So the fact that I have a daughter is really important, especially as a first born, she can lay claim to what I can claim, which is what was passed down to me for my mom. And so looking at our, our family, we have, my mom has so many siblings. But there are so few women who can claim it on her generation.

[00:27:33] It's just her and her sister. My, in my generations, there's only three of us, me and my two cousins. And then in my actually, no me and my one cousin and then in my daughter's generation, there's three of them. So my daughter and her two cousins. And so, I mean, you're looking at three generations and there's 1, 2, 3, 5 6, 7 there's only seven women in three generations who can claim all this land.

[00:27:55] And I mean, we have so many family members and so that's another reason why it was important for me to start Cocoa Asante because I'm doing something with what was passed down to us. Right. We have the land, we have the cocoa farm and now some of, some of the land is just sitting there being unused.

[00:28:13] Well, why don't we expand what we do and really make it a family like a business, something that really ties into our roots really ties into our land. So from all these different aspects, like Coco center, really just kind of tied in everything, from my family to my culture, to my backgrounds and my roots, everything, Reflected in Cocoa Asante.

[00:28:35] Emily Thompson: And I love how Cocoa Asante also takes something that has been a family business. It sounds like for generations, right? This farm land and you're literally turning it into an international empire. 

[00:28:48] Ella Livingston: I'm trying, oh my goodness. I'm trying, but I can do it in one generation. Like if I can accomplish this in one generation, I mean, who knows where my kids can take this?

[00:29:00] Emily Thompson: Yeah, for sure. I mean, and I, why not? Like, why couldn't you do that thing? I think I, I'm so inspired by that story for so many reasons. And really the most of which is that you've allowed it to inspire you so much. Right that you, even though you, you no longer live there, you are still so connected to it that you were literally making your like life decisions around staying connected to it and adding to it, which I find truly inspiring.

[00:29:33] So from all of that, What does legacy mean to you? Like what is like fueling you on the inside to show up in this way and, and how does it affect, your decision-making and how it is that you are moving forward down this path? 

[00:29:52] Ella Livingston: Ooh, that's a deep question. Let me tap all aspects about it. So to me, growing up, honestly, I'm not going to legacy.

[00:30:04] Didn't really mean much to me. Like I knew I was from Ghana. I knew we spoke the language. We ate the food at home, but I didn't really want to kind of do much with it. I was kind of, I would almost say sometimes I didn't like the legacy. My parents left me the fact that I was an immigrant, the fact that I wasn't from this country, the fact that we ate different foods, sometimes your.

[00:30:23] Especially as a, as a kid, high school, middle school, elementary school, like you're made fun of for being different, right? The color of your skin, how dark it is, the different foods that you eat. So I really shied away from. My legacy, my heritage, who I was, and it wasn't until I actually went to an HBCU Spellman college shadow that, but honestly it changed my life and I really started to embrace who I was and really appreciate where I'm from.

[00:30:56] And that's, when I also started to recognize what all my parents left me, they didn't have a million dollars in the bank to leave me in inheritance. They came to this country, they sacrifice literally everything they started from scratch. They went back to school and. I recognize as I went to, as I got into college, I recognize what all they left, what all they gave to me, the legacy that they left me.

[00:31:24] And so then I started to embrace that. And once I embraced that, I think that's when the ball really got started. Rolling. Okay. I'm embracing my legacy. Build upon it. And then once I had a child myself, then it became all the more important, like, no, you, you cannot fail. You cannot stop because it's so much bigger than me, it was before, it was for my family, but now I can, I can see, I can look into my daughter's eyes

[00:31:51] and I see who exactly I'm doing this for. Right. I don't want her to have some of the same struggles that, we've had being that first, first generation. So a lot of times when I talk to some of my friends, we were kind of raised here, but we were born in Ghana. Our parents came here and they were that first generation and they had to start all over.

[00:32:11] So they gave us opportunity. We're that next generation we've had opportunity. We've, we've taken advantage of the opportunity and now we've started the process of building. And so now I have to build enough so that my daughter has like a running headstart, and she can continue to build upon the foundation that I've laid.

[00:32:30] And so, that's how I see legacy. It's just something that I just continue to build on from what generations before me have done. And it's something that I'm excited to see, continue to grow, even after I've taken a step back. 

[00:32:45] Emily Thompson: Oh, you did a great job answering that question.

[00:32:52] Oh, okay. So you've talked a lot about family legacy, which I'm so glad that you have access to that for a lot of listeners. And I remember this being part of the conversation at that session was you prompt us all to sit and think about like what our legacies were. And we all sat there and we were like, misogyny and all like, white supremacy and like all these like awful things that like, right.

[00:33:18] We look at. Generations before us, like a, not to be proud of, we get down to it. And I would imagine there's probably a lot of listeners and like my hand is totally raised. I remember thinking, like, I hate this question. Like I don't, I can't even think about this. And I remember talking to you about it afterwards and you talking, you sort of

[00:33:40] putting me at peace with this idea that, family legacy is not the only legacy there is. So I'd love to hear your take on that. So yours is obviously a very strong family legacy, but what other kinds of legacy can we, can we connect ourselves with, to give us that, give us that like passion and like, I don't know, follow through witness that you have found with yours.

[00:34:05] Ella Livingston: Yeah. So I guess in a way, even though like, like my, I have this family legacy, but like you said, it's not the only type of legacy you can have. And I remember like in that room, some of the things that people were bringing up sometimes, I guess you can just be something really, really small. But it's like a, it's like a little tight, it just carries through and mines, corn bread, bread.

[00:34:28] I mean, somebody brought up Quilty. Just little R or the language, continuing to speak it to their kids. And the one legacy that I, I guess, well, let me say it like this people also brought up legacies that are positive that they're breaking. And I thought that was a great way to look at things.

[00:34:51] I think like when you said, misogyny, white supremacy, just people recognizing that, not all legacies are good and that you don't have to follow through. I think that's even sometimes just as important, if not more than what you actually continue to do. My one thing personal that me and my husband are really

[00:35:13] intentional about is leaving a legacy of love and affection. Growing up, my parents didn't really show love. Like they, I knew they loved each other, but I mean, they ended up divorced. So, but like we didn't see a face. I think I saw my dad hugged my mom one time in my entire. That's the most affection I have ever seen my parents show.

[00:35:35] And so for us, we're very intentional about in front of my daughter, we're always saying, I love you. We're hugging. We're just always loving on each other, you know? Cause I want her to feel that, my husband, one of the, the legacies that he's breaking, which I guess you can call generational curses.

[00:35:53] So his great-grandfather was born in you say 1931, his grandfather was born in 1951 and that I was born in 1971 and he was born in 1991. So they were all born 20 years apart. Right. So, yeah. And for the most part, they were all born out of wedlock at 20 years old. And so he was very adamant about, I'm not going to have a.

[00:36:14] At 20, I'm going to break that legacy. And I want to be married before I have my first child and he did. And so that was a legacy that he broke. That was very important to him. And he's, he's building this, we're building this, this beautiful legacy of, of, like I said, of love, in our home. And so. When I think of different types of legacies, I think of legacies, not just the big ones, but the small ones that carry food, like language, like, like hobbies that you continue to do, like recipes that you pass on, but then also those legacies and those curses that you're intentional about breaking.

[00:36:52] Emily Thompson: Yep. And easier would be reminded of that breaking one feel like, and I feel like that is probably the work of our generation, right. And a lot of is to break a million and a half different little legacies that all need to be one brought into awareness. 

[00:37:09] Ella Livingston: Oh, that's right. 

[00:37:10] Emily Thompson: And keep doing this thing. Right. Whatever it may be to, how can we bring it?

[00:37:14] And also I love how this is also what you're wanting to do with Cocoa Asante, too. Right? You are also seeing a long line of legacies that need to be broken and restructured so that they function. 

[00:37:27] Ella Livingston: Oh, wow. Yes. You're the first person that said it like that. That's beautiful.

[00:37:35] Emily Thompson: Right? This is very much so I think like some of your really important work here, which is why I had to get you. Well, I had to get you here to talk about this. So then my recommendation, anyone listening to this. Think about what those legacies are for yourself and not just your family, because they know for a lot of people that can bring up a lot of things.

[00:37:52] Ella Livingston: A lot of trauma and triggers. 

[00:37:53] Emily Thompson: Indeed, but also what are those legacies that you want to break?

[00:37:57] And then also find the legacies that you are continuing for, maybe that have nothing to do with bloodlines. Right. I think, us showing up, for us women entrepreneurs, what legacy are we building upon and moving forward with, what do we want to break and leave behind and, restructure into something new, or even in your specific industry, right?

[00:38:20] You are, you are working in a legacy of chocolate, right? Of like in the chocolate industry. What are you going to take forward? Build upon, make better and what are you going to break down and completely restructure or leave behind altogether? It's funny. I think, in a new industry, something like podcasting here for me, that's an interesting one.

[00:38:41] I'm to have to think about that one, but I definitely think that there are ways that we can all sort of put ourselves in a, like in a thread, right. Or as a thread in a legacy and decide, we get to decide how we want to continue forward one way or the other. 

[00:38:59] Ella Livingston: That's right. [00:39:00] 

[00:39:01] Emily Thompson: Ella, this is so good. Okay. 

[00:39:03] Let's go back to chocolate, if we may. I would love to hear from you what some of your next steps are basically like you have, you've connected yourself with what it is you want to do and how does you want to do it? COVID, well, I would say COVID aside, but we can't it's here that definitely has some things, or has done some things in your plans, but what, what are you planning to do next?

[00:39:29] What are your next steps? 

[00:39:31] Ella Livingston: So next steps really just to finish out the year strong, we're getting ready for the busiest season. Next year, my goal is to have, some, of course financial goals to, Hey, I want to make enough so that I can go full time. My business partner can go full time. We can hire more people.

[00:39:51] We can start to look at getting, we're starting to raise money to get the equipment that we need to be bean to bar. And then even start looking at, breaking into new markets, like we're growing in Chattanooga, but, Chattanooga is not a large city. It's not a large enough city for us to grow as we need to. So of course, like we want it to be our main, our flagship location.

[00:40:13] But we do want to break into, Atlanta, why not LA, New York. And then of course we're always in the background working in Ghana to see, it's just, it's a slow, slow process, but, working in Ghana to see. How we can start to build on that front. 

[00:40:32] Emily Thompson: Oh, well you just let me know every step of the way. I'll taste test. 

[00:40:37] Ella Livingston: Yeah. Yes. Ma'am.

[00:40:38] Emily Thompson: I'm good for that. 

[00:40:42] Filling up everybody's talking so chocolate for sure. Perfect. Well, Ella, it has been a complete and utter pleasure to have you here sharing all of this with bosses. I hope that everyone gets some good little takeaways, for continuing on your path, whatever that may be.

[00:40:59] But I think the biggest question is where can people buy chocolate? 

[00:41:05] Ella Livingston: Wow, what a great question. And I guess before I answer that, I just want to, I'll say, thanks for having me. This was, it was a lot, it was great for me too, I think just being able to speak about certain things, the vision become a little clearer.

[00:41:20] So I really appreciate that. I'm such a great moderator. Great. So, but as before you can buy Cocoa Asante, you can always buy it on our website. We do ship, we deliver we're at our local markets and the website is www.cocoaasanate, that's spelled C O C O A A S A N T E.com. And we do ship

[00:41:47] during late fall, early spring. So we don't ship in the summer. So yeah, catch us on our website. And like I said, we're heading into our busy season. Don't wait till the last minute to order your gifts. Cause it may not make [00:42:00] it. So please, please, please. If you're going to order order early. 

[00:42:03] Emily Thompson: Awesome. Perfect.

[00:42:05] And my last question is always my favorite and always the sneaky surprise one. This isn't a good one. Ella, what these days is making you feel most boss?

[00:42:18] Ella Livingston: Oh, my goodness. Most boss, man, this is a good surprise. Honestly it may not seem like it, but honestly, being a mom is making me feel most boss only because motherhood just motherhood is the hardest.

[00:42:41] But it also shows you just how much you're able to do and it lights a fire under you that she didn't know you needed, or that she even had. Like, I didn't know. I had the strength to do what I did until I really, until I became a mom, I'm a mom. And, yeah. So motherhood makes me realize that I'm being a boss, like, taking my daughter to meetings with me and say, Hey, my daughter's here with us and we're still going to have this meeting.

[00:43:07] And if you don't like it, then she and I are both going to leave that, like that makes me feel like a boss being able to stand up for women in all aspects, because we're so multifaceted, we show up to meetings, but we're, we're, we're a mom we're taking care of our home or running the household work or having those other full-time jobs.

[00:43:27] And so being a mom allows me to kind of showcase that, if that makes sense. 

[00:43:32] Emily Thompson: Yeah. 

[00:43:33] Oh, wonderful. Great answer! Ella, this has been a pleasure. I cannot wait to see you IRL soon. Yes. Also eat chocolate always. 

[00:43:43] This has been a pleasure. Thanks for coming to chat with me. 

[00:43:45] Ella Livingston: Awesome. Thank you for having me.

[00:43:50] Emily Thompson: All right boss, because you're here. I know you want to be a better creative business owner, which means I've got something for you. Each week, the team at being boss is scouring the news, the best entrepreneurial publications and updates and releases of the apps and tools that run our businesses and is curating it all into a weekly email that delivers the must know tips and tactics in the realms of mindset, money and productivity.

[00:44:14] This email is called Brewed. We brew it up for you each week to give you the insight you need to make decisions and move forward in your creative business. Check it out now and sign up for yourself at beingboss.club/brewed. That's beingboss.com/ B R E W E D. Now until next time, do the work, be boss.[00:45:00]