Conversation with Mary Eritsian and Armine Pilojan Vrteska: From a simple coffee chat to a unique small business

la ganash
La Ganash's Owners / Photo: Private Archive

Two women from Armenia met in Skopje and started creating real art from handmade chocolates

We bring you the story of two friends from Armenia, who live in Macedonia - Mary Eritsian и Armine Pilojan Vrteska.

Mary and Armine reveal to us that their "chocolate journey" started with a simple coffee chat. They began to learn and master the art of handmade chocolates, made from original Belgian chocolate, filled with a variety of flavors, creams and fillings.

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Mary Eritsian and Armine Pilojan Vrteska / Photo: Private archive

We talked to these inspiring women about what it is like to own a small business far from home, what challenges they faced and what is the secret of fascinatingly designed chocolates with great taste and amazing shapes.

Who are Armine Pilojan Vrteska and Mary Eritsian? How did the road bring you to Macedonia and what made you stay?

- Armine and Mary are two friends from Armenia, who meet for the first time in Skopje. Our meeting is the result of our family stories.

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Some of the chocolates in La Ganash / Photo: Private archive

How did the idea for handmade chocolates come about? Is creating art a team effort or is one of you responsible for the taste and the recipe and the other for the aesthetics and decoration?

- The idea for handmade chocolates was born because of our desire to create something in which each of us will find ourselves. The years of socializing with our friends in Skopje and throughout Macedonia, enabled us to get to know the traditions and tastes of different cultures. Chocolate little pleasure plays a significant role in our lives when we want to share our happiness with loved ones, to give smiles and pleasant emotions, but also when we want to comfort someone, encouraged us to explore and penetrate deeper into the world of chocolate. The road took us to Antwerp, Belgium, where the chocolate makers from the "Chocolate World" introduced us to the secrets of handmade chocolate creations. Our chocolate making is a combination of individual creations and teamwork in terms of both tastes and aesthetics.

la ganash
La Ganash's Owners / Photo: Private Archive

Can you draw a small parallel between life in Armenia and life in Macedonia? What do you miss, and what do you get here? Were you also involved in making chocolates there?

- Both countries, although similar, have their own authenticity. It is normal for us to miss our homeland, especially when it offers great opportunities for artists, arts and crafts. In Macedonia we met a new language, culture, people and among other things we dared to start a business. The idea for making chocolates was born here.

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Some of the chocolates in La Ganash / Photo: Private archive

How do people react to your unique chocolates? Do they recognize the gastronomic moment of Belgian chocolate or do they need more information?

- The very fact that in a year and a half we have a growing number of supporters of our work and consumers, who are ambassadors of the uniqueness of our products, makes us happy and satisfied. The gastronomic moment of Belgian chocolate is recognized by our consumers, but mainly more information is needed about handmade chocolate products.

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Some of the chocolates in "La Ganash" / Photo: Private archive

From the selection you offer, what are your favorite flavors? What would you recommend to those who have not tried your chocolates before?

- Our product range covers more than 25 flavors in different designs, including classic caramel, various caramelized nuts, coffee-flavored pralines, crunchy salty caramel, toffee, various fruit pralines, raffaello, sneakers… Those who have not tried them, will find pralines for every taste and we are sure that they will become part of our chocolate family, and the pralines of "La Ganash" will be an indispensable gift for their loved ones.

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Some of the chocolates in "La Ganash" / Photo: Private archive

What challenges and successes do you face as women entrepreneurs?

- The challenges that "La Ganash" as a chocolate startup has faced and is facing, are the pandemic and the constant growth of operating costs. The pandemic was the reason for the delay in the beginning of our operation and the small number of buyers. At the moment, the current growth in the price of raw materials and electricity is putting strong pressure on the profitability of our operations. To be able to meet these challenges and to be able to continue to meet the needs of chocolate lovers, we currently need the support of our chocolate family in spreading the story of our chocolate products. We expect that in the coming period, appropriate funds will be available to support the operation and development of our chocolate startup.

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