Women in Business
Take a memo: Delaware’s businesswomen have the vision, ability and tenacity to build thriving companies. Meet executives who’ve succeeded despite unthinkable loss, financial obstacles or resistance from employees in male-dominated fields.
(page 12 of 13)
Mary Sears, owner of Sweet Serenity Chocolates in Seaford, didn’t know that whipping up chocolate for her own wedding would change her life. But when friends tasted the confections, they encouraged her to start a business. Thus Sweet Serenity Chocolates was founded in 2005. “In preparing for my wedding, I researched the history of wedding favors,” says Sears. “By combining what I learned from my research with my secret-recipe truffles, I was literally creating tasteful memories, one sweet bite at a time.” Sears started small, offering product samples to local businesses. Her line grew, as did her truffle recipes. While Sears’ core products are buttercream truffles, she has developed a line of chocolate-covered pretzels and gourmet apples. Her online business has increased 10 percent each year since 2006, when she went high-tech.
True foodie “My passion for food came honestly. I cooked with my brothers and sisters and learned the meaning of sharing valuable time over a meal.”
What’s in a name? A lot of heart. Her close friend Arlene, who passed away in 2007, read The Serenity Prayer to Sears during a visit in 2005. “We just both looked at each other and said, ‘Sweet Serenity.’”
Joni Silverstein is known in Delaware business circles for her past work as vice president of market development for The News Journal. But fans of the Smart Talk Lecture Series at the DuPont Theatre—originally called Unique Lives and Experiences—remember her as its charismatic emcee, who introduced and interviewed icons such as Coretta Scott King, Lesley Stahl and Mary Tyler Moore. Silverstein has changed paths, working to “give back to a community that gave so much to me,” she says. As director of the Delaware Girls Initiative, Silverstein advocates for girls who are in or at risk of becoming a part of the juvenile justice system. She helps identify programs and opportunities that help girls find their voices. Silverstein is back on the podium, too, emceeing for Delaware Women, the lecture series she created for the Delaware Girls Initiative. The new program already boasts two successful lectures, both held at co-sponsor Pizza by Elizabeths in Greenville.
Serious role model Silverstein worked with several nonprofit organizations and businesses to create partnerships and programs that address community needs.
Her mentor Curtis Riddle, president and publisher at The News Journal and senior group president at Gannett. “He taught me that it’s OK to be me and that I could be honest with him about what I thought of different programs.”
Page 13: Women in Business, continues...