Chocolate Easter rabbits and foil-covered chocolate eggs spilled on a green lawn.
Data shows that the global confectionery market is slated to grow annually by 5.63% through 2028. — Getty Images | Credit: Rimma_Bondarenko

While the chocolate industry sees big business around Valentine’s Day and Halloween, the global market is positioned for sweet success all year round. As of 2024, revenue in the global chocolate confectionery market reached over $254 billion, slated to grow annually by 5.63% through 2028.

Whether you’re seeking some entrepreneurial inspiration or simply want to support small businesses (and your sweet tooth), here are five independent chocolatiers who have found their golden ticket to success.

Birnn Chocolates

In 1932, Charles Henry Birnn launched the store that would soon be known as Birnn Candy. The Highland Park, New Jersey-based candy shop experienced several changes over the following decades — including retail expansion, a flagship store fire, and being sold out of the Birnn family, eventually reopening in 1981 as Birnn Chocolates. John Cunnell took over as head of the company in 1991 and shifted its focus to producing traditional chocolates, while the truffle-making portion of the company relocated and split into a separate company, Birnn Chocolates of Vermont.

Today, Birnn Chocolates remains one of New Jersey’s most highly regarded small confectioners, with a variety of seasonal and year-round chocolates available for purchase in-store or online. The company has been fair trade as well as GMO-free since 2019, using only natural ingredients in all of its offerings.

[Read More: 9 Candy Businesses to Inspire Aspiring Food Entrepreneurs]

Chocolat Abeille

Nebraska’s own Chocolat Abeille, French for “Chocolate Honey Bee,” draws inspiration from the beauty of nature and the joy of small, sweet treats. After launching in the Old Market district of Omaha in 2017, founder Tina Tweedy relocated the shop in 2021 to a larger space in Bellevue, complete with an attached patio and pollinator garden.

Under the leadership of Tweedy’s three senior employees, Chocolat Abeille continues to infuse fresh flavors, nature-inspired designs, and a touch of whimsy into its products. Each chocolate is hand-painted with colored cocoa butter and contains all-natural ingredients, including wildflower honey from the shop’s own bees. Patrons can also purchase honey or enjoy a spot of afternoon tea, and those outside the Bellevue area can also place an order for nationwide shipping.

Combining traditional techniques with local flavors, Lonohana Estate Chocolate specializes in dark and milk chocolate featuring Hawaii-inspired inclusions like sea salt, chili peppers, and even hibiscus.

Dallmann Confections

Isabella Knack, owner of Dallmann Confections, comes from a long line of treat makers. In 1954, Knack’s grandfather, Guenther Dallmann, opened a pastry shop in Austria called Dallmann’s. Knack grew up working in the shop and learning the art of crafting confectioneries, including the Salzberg-originated chocolate nougat ball known as Mozartkugel. With Knack’s relocation to San Diego, Dallmann Confections launched in 2006 and opened its first retail shop in 2011.

Dallmann Confections prides itself on marrying the old world and new world in its artisan chocolates, available for purchase both online and in-store. In addition to traditional bars and boxes, the shop also offers specialty items, like vegan and sugar-free chocolates. Confectionery connoisseurs can also schedule an in-person or virtual chocolate tasting, including wine and beer pairings.

[Read More: Sweets Apothecary Owner: ‘Take the Chance’ on Your Business Idea]

French Broad Chocolate

Now a mainstay of Asheville, North Carolina, the origins of French Broad Chocolate started a bit further south. After a fateful trip to Costa Rica, Midwest residents Dan Rattigan and Jael Skeffington purchased an abandoned cacao plantation there, studying chocolate and crafting different recipes to serve in their café and dessert shop. The duo eventually made their way to Asheville, launching French Broad Chocolate out of their home kitchen and expanding to a brick-and-mortar location in 2008.

Since 2012, French Broad Chocolate has been a bean-to-bar chocolate maker, using sustainably sourced cacao from trusted farmers. The chocolatier offers nationwide shipping for bonbons, chocolate bar sets, hot chocolate, and other cocoa-based confections — but those in the Asheville area might want to see the magic for themselves by attending a chocolate factory tour or tasting.

[Read More: 10 Food Business Ideas]

Lonohana Estate Chocolate

Located on the island of O’ahu, Lonohana Estate Chocolate was developed from the shared dream of two families with a passion for chocolate and transparency in business. Co-founders Seneca Klassen and Lawrence Boone, along with their families, set out to launch a vertically integrated chocolate company in Hawaii. The Lonohana team controls the process from start to finish, from farming cacao along the North Shore to producing small-batch chocolate bars in a Honolulu factory.

Combining traditional techniques with local flavors, Lonohana Estate Chocolate specializes in dark and milk chocolate featuring Hawaii-inspired inclusions like sea salt, chili peppers, and even hibiscus. In addition to nationwide shipping, Hawaii visitors and residents can stop by Lonohana’s small retail shop at SALT at Our Kaka’ako to pick up a sweet treat.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Applications are open for the CO—100! Now is your chance to join an exclusive group of outstanding small businesses. Share your story with us — apply today.

CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

Apply for the CO—100!

The CO—100 is an exclusive list of the 100 best and brightest small and mid-sized businesses in America. Enter today to share your story and get recognized.

Get recognized. Get rewarded. Get $25K.

Is your small business one of the best in America? Apply for our premier awards program for small businesses, the CO—100, today to get recognized and rewarded. One hundred businesses will be honored and one business will be awarded $25,000.