XAUXA Chocolate might be tricky to pronounce, but that’s just part of the mystique for founder Rosaria Giorgi. Committed to producing unique and premium chocolate from only three singular ingredients sourced in Sicly is no small feat, but compound that with starting from scratch, in a new country and you’ve got the makings of a women-led Wonka-esque chocolate maker on a mission to make a better bar.

We didn’t want to get it wrong, so I hired an AI company to tell me the main trends would be for chocolate consumption for the next 3-5 years. Millions of terabytes of publicly available data was gathered and the machines did what the machines do! The data was analyzed and while we took inspiration from the 400 year old history we of course had to innovate!”

Rosaria Giorgi, founder, XAUXA Chocolate

Using artificial intelligence to pinpoint what chocolate lovers will be seeking in the future is a bold move from a brand new business owner. But Rosaria is no stranger to startups. After leaving her family home in Italy, she started her first company in Ireland, a fashion distribution business she later sold before relocating to Canada with her husband. This entrepreneurial spirit is steeped in her family’s legacy, her parents and grandparents were all entrepreneurs too.

For a few years I just kept looking for the right startup to invest in, I kept getting close but negotiations kept bringing up red flag after red flag. I couldn’t wait any longer, I knew I wanted something in food, something ethical and organic, so I started my own food business.

Rosaria Giorgi, founder, XAUXA Chocolate

And in 2019, XAUXA shipped out the first bars. With a mandate to use ethical and organic ingredients, clean label packaging, very minimal ingredients, all while being sustainable and vegan, XAUXA succeeded on Rosaria’s pledge to deliver on what consumers were after was just the start. Educating retailers and distributors that chocolate isn’t meant to look glossy and perfect, and it’s definitely not supposed to be so cheap (palm oil) has been a huge challenge. But the demand is there, and retailers are being forced to change their tune. “The grocery industry is very male-dominated- I have felt patronized, man-splained and undermined. Or made to feel like I’m not Canadian, I am Canadian! They would try to change the look, the packaging, making it cheaper. Why not use orange essence instead of hand-peeled real orange with hand-ground zest? Shortcuts. You go and compete on price, and you’ll lose. It’s really been a battle to get them to understand, you shouldn’t just concentrate on how to make it cheaper. A lot of people, who happen to be men, have been in the industry way too long, explains Rosaria.

Sound familiar? This same refrain has been shared again and again, and Rosaria’s story is no different. Trust in yourself, the process and push the doubts aside. And channel your inner Rosaria, “always move forward, it doesn’t get easier, you just get used to the challenges more.”

Antioxidant-rich and perfected with cold-crafted technology, XAUXA blends old-world ingredients with cutting-edge techniques. But the result? A gluten-free superfood with hand-harvested pistachios, sea salt and orange zest, exactly what Rosaria envisioned when she came up with the product. So what’s next? Look for new flavours, more shops, and a sugar-free chocolate for people living with diabetes. 

Thank you to Rosaria for being so candid and authentic! Our next Her Turn interview invites restaurant owner Anne Sorrenti from Oakwood Hardware to weigh in on the industry- you won’t want to miss that one!

Interview may be edited for length/clarity. All images by Libby Roach.