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We’re sharing stories from some of the vital women who keep Serra in motion at the top of her game, starting with Holly Hukill.
The self-taught chocolatier was among the first bean-to-bar chocolate makers in Portland, intrigued by the bouquet of flavor and texture she discovered when diving further back into supply chains of raw cacao. Now Serra’s Product Development Director, Holly oversees all product development for the kitchen, including the creation of the Serra x Woodblock Chocolate lines and our fruity, jewel-toned Gumdrops.
In between keeping up with Gumdrop orders, experimenting with Woodblock Chocolate’s latest round of cacao beans, and new projects on the horizon, Holly took a break to talk inspiration, recreation and why modern edibles are the most controlled way to experience cannabis.
What kind of music puts you in the right, productive mindset for work?
HH: In a way, the work dictates the music, as it’s often task dependent. While the genres vary wildly, I tend to gravitate towards instrumental, as it allows me to focus and find my rhythm. Here’s a recent Friday playlist:
Yo-Yo Ma: Bach Cello Suites
El Michels Affair
Cambodian Space Project
Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra
What does self-care look like for you?
HH: I try to set daily intentions each morning with a quick stretch and evaluation of my day. Going into the day in the right frame of mind can impact everything. Beyond the daily, I try to find balance doing the things that give me joy; as a single mom, spending time with my kids is number one. From there, I try to make sure I also get solo time, immersing myself in art, music, books, and nature. Getting myself out of the bustle allows me to come back and approach things with a fresh perspective.
What’s your favorite part: imagining recipes, experimenting to find the right flavor/balance, or seeing others enjoy your final product?
HH: Such a hard question to answer! Playing with flavor combinations is a highlight, while collaborating with other producers brings the community together in such a rewarding way. In the end, though, it really is all about making something that people can enjoy on all levels. I think there’s still a stigma around edibles because we’ve all heard (and/or experienced) stories of eating too much. But the truth is that legal edibles provide the most controlled experience, and making products that benefit people by being precisely dosed—and delicious—gives me great joy.
It’s a Friday, work is done by noon with nothing to do. What’s your next move?
HH: Go hiking! Then grab some friends for happy hour before heading home.
Sometimes relief means a break in the negativity that can build up around us in trying times. What’s something you saw or read recently that made your day?
HH: I have two teenage daughters, and through them, I am surrounded by strong, independent thinkers full of passion and drive. It gives me great hope to see a new generation dedicated to progress.
Sixteen-year-old Greta Thunberg [the Swedish teen serving up UN speeches, TED Talks, and reality checks to climate change deniers] is an inspiring example of this, speaking her truth and advocating for immediate action on climate change. And people are listening. It’s a powerful reminder that one voice can make a difference.
What’s next? Does it feel good to pivot to something new, now that Gumdrops are off in the world?
HH: It’s gratifying to see a project come to fruition, and even more so when it’s as well received as the Gumdrops.
Our next big thing celebrates the spirit of collaboration with caramels. It’s a fun challenge to take on, and we’re starting with the highest quality ingredients from our favorite local partners: Woodblock Chocolate, Stumptown Coffee, and Jacobsen Salt Co, altogether the perfect platform for developing an amazing line of caramels. After that, we’ll be re-launching our chocolate bars, adding new flavors, dosing, and packaging featuring art by local painter Maja Dlugolecki. Exciting, delicious things ahead.