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Meet: Peace by Chocolate

The Fall Nova Box is full of seasonal treasures with elements of wood, comfort and the changing leaves.

One item in particular is not only delicious, but also carries a very important message.

For more than 20 years the Hadad family operated a successful chocolate factory, employing 30 people in Damascus, Syria. They shipped their specialty treats from Damascus all over the Middle East to countries like Yemen, Jordan and Lebanon. Like much of their homeland, the Hadhad chocolate factory was destroyed in a bombing that forced their family to leave everything behind and flee to Lebanon. For three years, Tareq Hadhad and his family lived in a refugee camp with little opportunity or hope. When their family was invited into Canada and became full Canadian citizens, their dream of rebuilding their lives and business came true.

Since starting Peace by Chocolate at the beginning of 2016, they have been fortunate to share their passion for chocolate with new friends in their community of Antigonish, across Nova Scotia and now around the world. 

We recently spoke to Tareq Hadhad, to understand more about his message of Peace and Chocolate.

What does this company mean to you/your family? Peace by Chocolate means the resilience and determination to come from nothing and rebuild ourselves again in a new country. When we arrived in Nova Scotia, our family had lost everything; the chocolate factory that we owned and operated for over 30 years had been destroyed. Since 2002, our company was the second largest chocolate factory in the Middle East. Though we lost the bricks and mortar, we didn’t lose our experience and skills.  Peace by Chocolate is our home; Canada is our home. The company is our way of giving back to the community and the country that opened its doors to us.  

What gives you hope? We truly found hope in our community here in Nova Scotia. Having to rebuild our life after losing everything is not easy. We always say that kindness begets kindness; and we are so fortunate to be surrounded by people who love us and are willing to help us rebuild. There are many things in the world that can bring anxiety and fear, we try to focus on the things that bring hope. The company is our Canadian identity and allows us to share our experience both as chocolatiers, and as a family who has suffered from violence in the middle east. We believe that the world needs more peace, and more chocolate!

What advice would you give to other New Canadians who are thinking about starting a business? Starting a business is like raising a baby, and is certainly full of challenges. You must have patience in the beginning, as many things can test your limits. You must believe in what you’re doing, and allow the people around you to help. Finally, you must never give up! Even when it gets hard, building a business is worth fighting for. It’s also very key to build an emotional brand story. We find that people love our chocolate, even before they taste it! I believe it’s because the story matters to them- people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Tareq and his family are the perfect example of resilience and entrepreneurial spirit. In less than a year, Peace by Chocolate went from selling a few pieces of chocolate to having 12 full time employees and expanding their operations in Canada AND the US. No wonder Justin Trudeau used their story as an example of the positive impact families like Tareq’s can have on ­our community and economy.