Chocolate and ice cream dreams help the Vance family build a hempire.
Written by Natasha Bourlin
Photos courtesy of Vance family
First, there was chocolate. Then came specialized ice cream. Now, expertise in those realms has branched into a totally new endeavor for Dorinda Vance and her sons: LiveKAYA.
Chocolate has been treasured since around 2,000 BCE, when the Mayans in Central America first discovered cacao and its deliciously invigorating benefits when ingested. In the millennia to follow, it’s morphed into many a pleasurable delicacy, from potable to edible.
In 2008, Dorinda Vance turned her passion and experience working with chocolate into a Truckee-based business, Dorinda’s Chocolates. Five years later, in 2013, she moved her business to Reno, along the Truckee River, with her son, Dustin.
From left, Dillon, Dorinda, and Dustin Vance, the three family members behind Dorinda’s Chocolates, Rolled Mountain Creamery, and, most recently, LiveKAYA
Today, her two bustling retail stores drive demand that’s met in a large locale where her chocolates are crafted. That demand can’t be met with machinery alone, however. Today, with a team of chocolatiers, customer-service specialists, and two more businesses under the Dorinda’s umbrella, it’s become a full-fledged family affair.
Fresh from the U.S Marines, Dillon Vance joined his mother and brother by forming Rolled Mountain Creamery in 2016. Reflecting on freshly crafted ice creams he read about while in Asia, where power grid issues often necessitated á la minute ice cream creation, he brought the technique to Dorinda’s Chocolates, and a new business was born.
Dillon Vance produces ice cream on the spot at Rolled Mountain Creamery in Reno
At Rolled Mountain Creamery, the Vances and their team make ice cream to order using fresh, raw cream combined with Dorinda’s high-quality ingredients. A stainless-steel plate serves as a freezing mechanism, then the solid cream is rolled and served to salivating customers. Vegan options also are available, and all varieties are made with mostly locally sourced ingredients. The ice creams are available at both Dorinda’s Chocolates locations in Reno (the second is in the SouthCreek shopping center in South Reno).
Capitalizing on Cannabinoids
Blending business savvy with health benefits, the family just launched a new venture in April 2019. The Vances already knew of the positive effects that the high-grade, 70-plus-percent chocolate they used had on people’s well-being.
“The amount of cocoa solids in dark chocolate is important because it can be an indicator of the amount of dietary flavonoids, which are antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables, and certain drinks. Research suggests consuming more dietary flavonoids is linked to a lower risk of coronary heart disease,” states an American Heart Association article entitled “Are there health benefits from chocolate?”
“Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults,” the article continues.
While white-labeling chocolates for local dispensaries upon marijuana legalization, Dustin learned distillation and math equations necessary to dose chocolates with desired amounts of cannabidiol (CBD), removing the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds. The Vances began experimenting on their own, adding CBD to high-quality MCT coconut oil and, of course, flavoring it with French chocolate.
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials … There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions,” says a 2017 World Health Organization report. “There is unsanctioned medical use of CBD-based products with oils, supplements, gums, and high concentration extracts available online for the treatment of many ailments. CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
With the advent of a federal bill legalizing hemp, the plant from which CBD is derived, as an agricultural product in 2018 in all 50 states, it could now be added to a plethora of products.
A New and Delectable Enterprise
During their efforts with the dispensaries, Dorinda began trying CBD. She wanted something that could help with pain and inflammation but without the high. Dorinda discovered firsthand that it helped dramatically with both aching from her bone-on-bone knees and difficulty breathing that resulted from a broken nose.
After personal validation of its efficacy, much recipe experimentation, focus groups, shared therapeutic effects by those testing the products, and, finally, enormous demand, the family launched LiveKAYA.
Organic CBD infusion from LiveKAYA
After their peers and focus group members tried samples, they began knocking on Dorinda’s door for more. They began sharing their notable improvements in everything from gout to the pains of chemotherapy after regularly ingesting the chocolates, which inspired the Vances further.
As a network marketing veteran, Dorinda wanted to create a business model outside of the usual retail realm for the vegan, keto-friendly products they make from Valrhona chocolate and organic, U.S.-sourced hemp.
“I wanted to be able to help other parents. I was always able to be there for my kids, and wanted to be able to help our community and others unlock more time with their families,” says Dorinda, co-CEO and founder of LiveKAYA. “Here, we can control the product. When you take our products, you know exactly how many milligrams of hemp are in there.”
In fact, the Vances guarantee the contents, thanks to the third-party testing they do — the results of which they provide to the team of brand partners they’ve built for LiveKAYA. To get the CBD chocolates, a customer must purchase from one of the brand partners or become one him or herself. But it’s not your mother’s multilevel marketing biz. They joined forces with a network marketing expert, Marc Schenkel, to create a model in which everyone thrives and there is no income pyramid involved.
It’s the biggest endeavor the family has ever undertaken. The very CBD products they were working to bring to market helped them get through the process in a calm, anxiety-free fashion, they say.
“We’ve created a superior product and a superior compensation plan,” Dorinda says. “It helps so many people, and that’s one of the fun reasons we’re in this business. It’s changing people’s lives, one bite at a time.”
“I believe we can actually make a difference to people’s well-being,” asserts Dustin Vance, chief operating officer of Dorinda’s Chocolates and vice president of product development for LiveKAYA. “The opioid crisis is terrible, so we created a product that’s natural, organic, tastes good, and is of the same quality as Dorinda’s chocolates.”
From left, Dillon, Thom (Dorinda’s husband and father to their three boys), Austin (the Vances’ third son), and Dustin Vance outside of the Riverside Dorinda’s Chocolates location.
A one-month supply of 30 CBD-infused MCT oil runs close to $100. To become a brand partner, it’s a $24.95 annual fee.
In LiveKAYA’s first week of operations, people were already getting checks, and the Vances have been cutting them ever since. Dorinda has been doing presentations on the business across the U.S. since its launch and now has brand partners in 38 states.
With goals of expanding LiveKAYA while keeping Dorinda’s Chocolates and Rolled Mountain Creamery thriving, the family businesses are set to get sweeter by the day.