These three women have built Grocer's Daughter Chocolate into what is is today. Mimi Wheeler (center) as the business founder, Jenny Samaniego (left) who makes our chocolate in Ecuador, and Jody Hayden (right) who currently co-owns the shop with her husband, DC.
We’ve been making premium chocolate confections in the sweet little town of Empire since 2004. Mimi Wheeler, originally from Denmark, started Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate after making bonbons for her friends for holidays and events for many years. She was never satisfied with the chocolate she could purchase in the United States so, after a career as a social worker, she opened GDC in a small building just south of Empire. The name ‘Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate’ harkens back to Mimi’s youth, when her family owned the small grocery store in the rural village where she grew up.
Jody and DC Hayden, long-time friends of Mimi’s, purchased Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate in 2013 and moved the shop to its current location in 2018. Jody co-founded Higher Grounds Trading Co in Traverse City and brought her passion for ethical sourcing and progressive business management to GDC. DC, a trained videographer, transferred his keen eye for detail into chocolate production and photography.
On a trip to Ecuador in 2008, Mimi and Jody met Jenny Samaniego, born and raised in Quito, and quickly became friends. When the Haydens purchased GDC in 2013, Jody reached out to Jenny about making chocolate for the shop and the rest is herstory! We’re proud to make our creations with Jenny’s chocolate and continue Mimi’s legacy in our little chocolate paradise, nested in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.