The Tuck Shop Sets a High Bar for Chocolate

PHOTOGRAPHY BY LACY KIERNAN CARROLL • STYLED BY FARRELL CROWLEY & GRACE HARRIS

Tuck Shop

Sarah Michler and Caroline Witmer are giving new meaning to the term sweet spot, with a chocolate business that melds work and friendship, cacao and cranberries, cherished destinations and artful packaging.

The Tuck Shop founders grew up just a few miles apart—Sarah in Riverside and Caroline in Greenwich—but met in boarding school at Deerfield Academy and shared a love for Nantucket. “We always said we wanted to do something together. The catalyst for Tuck Shop was the closing of Sweet Inspirations, our favorite little chocolate shop on Nantucket,” explains Caroline. “That was 2019, but it was really 2023 when we looked each other in the eye and said, ‘Let’s do this.’”

Sarah came up with the name: “We wanted to honor Nantucket. I think I was in London at the time, and there they call a candy or confectioner’s shop a ‘tuck’ shop. I heard my nephew say, ‘I gotta get my tuck.’” And so, tuck stuck.

Both were 33, embarking on motherhood and looking for a change. Caroline had an Economics degree from Brown and a career in finance. Sarah a degree in anthropology from Cornell and a film background. They combined their strengths and catapulted from idea to product in a mere four months. “We balance each other in a great way,” says Sarah. “We are both very driven and work really hard, but we laugh a lot.”

right: Tuck Shop founders Sarah Michler and Caroline Witmer

Caroline gives Sarah the credit for spurring her on. “Sarah is the ‘let’s try, let’s see what happens’ person, and historically I’m more cautious,” says Caroline. “I had left a job in private equity and was doing consulting to help female founders in consumer products secure funding, and I was at this crossroads. I’d just had my second child. Sarah is incredibly high energy and positive. She said, ‘What are you waiting for?’ The combination of Sarah and my mom gave me the courage.”

The duo dug into their networks to cull any chocolate expertise. “We tasted so much chocolate!” recounts Caroline. “Then Sarah went to a wedding and serendipitously was seated next to a man who had run a chocolate business for twenty years, which had closed during Covid. He linked us to his partner, an incredibly talented woman in Brooklyn who knows how to create products but needed a business arm. It was a match made in heaven.”

Heavenly is an apt description for the three bars in the Nantucket Collection: 70 percent Dark Chocolate with Touch of Sea Salt, 40 percent Milk Chocolate, and 55 percent Dark Chocolate with Cranberries ($38 for three 100-gram bars). The packaging is adorned with sweet drawings—by artist Tess Ramirez of My Father’s Daughter Designs—of the Brandt Point Lighthouse, a Sconset trellis, a sailboat, a beach cruiser and other images that conjure summer days on the idyllic island.

As the Tuck Shop founders both live in New York, the Big Apple was the next obvious inspiration for a few chocolate bars—one of which blends pretzels into the mix and another a hint of coffee. For the new L.A. bar, the pair had fun picking drawings for the packaging. “We had to use a car,” says Sarah, whose husband’s job as a director takes them to L.A. “As a New Yorker, I tried to walk everywhere, and you just don’t do that in L.A.!” Along with a vintage car are palm trees, the Santa Monica pier, Capitol Records, an old-school movie camera, a Sunset Boulevard street sign, the Hollywood sign and a surf shack.

left: As little girls, Sarah (top) and Caroline (bottom) spent summers on Nantucket. (Both girls are on their Dads’ laps.) right: With adorable hand-drawn wrapping, the chocolate bar’s outside is as sweet as the inside.

“We both love chocolate—obviously,” says Sarah. “It’s hard to find chocolate here that compares to European chocolate. We wanted to use whole ingredients and have an indulgent chocolate.” The bars are made from Colombian-sourced cocoa, and some are vegan. A smaller bar will debute soon.

Customers have the option of customizing their packaging with text and/or an image, which is a memorable touch for a baby shower, wedding or corporate gift. Sarah says, “Caroline and I started this in part because chocolate is so joyful. It’s so fun to be a part of these different celebrations and help people envision their message and design.”

Caroline notes, “Everyone from Greenwich has been so supportive. We’ve done amazing pop-ups, with our friend Avery Carpenter, who wrote the book Social Engagement, and with Ashley McCormick, who runs ASHA, and others. It has also been fun to do this with little kids who get to watch their moms working and doing something they love together.”

Sarah adds, “My daughters pretend to send her daughter emails about their work.” They are two- and three-years-old, and no doubt have big futures ahead of them.

 

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