Entrepreneur Sarah Anyieth of Nhair Chocolates Shares Tips for Those Scaling A Side Hustle
May 23, 2023
Sarah has over 15 years of experience in accounting and financial leadership roles including leading large-scale transformations programs, adoptions of new accounting pronouncements, and targeted close acceleration/cycle reduction projects focused on the record-to-report process.

Previously, during her tenure at Ernst & Young LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Deloitte & Touche, LLP, Sarah served in multiple roles including leading ERP cloud implementations resulting in the reimagination of the finance functions, close assessment projects resulting in reduced close timelines, SOX design and testing, public and private company financial statement audits, and operationalizing requirements in response to newly adopted accounting standards.

In March 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Sarah wanted to share with people a bit of sweetness during a difficult time. She channeled her passion for s food which brings as a basis for human connection. Food is art, food is connection, food is love... food is Nhiär.

She recreated a recipe her mother used to make to create a unique chocolate experience for any occasion or no occasion at all. Her chocolates which are dairy-free, gluten-free, refined sugar free, and sourced from fair trade certified organic producers allowing people to enjoy an elevated chocolate experience.

Why did you start Nhiar?

I lost my father in mid-March 2020 (yes, literally at the start of COVID) and I received the news while being in lockdown in New York City.

My mum told me early on in my life that when you are sad, it is important to be of service to others because by doing so, you will feel better and also put positivity into the world through your actions.

During the lockdown, I found passion in making little chocolate creations that I could ship to friends also in lockdown in NYC.

What did your background in management consulting teach you that you had to unlearn as you focused on chocolate?

My background actually helped me to be better at growing the chocolate company. Understanding the financials, the barriers to scale, distribution and how to run a business. I will say, however, that it is very different running a multi-billion dollar organization compared to a start-up chocolate company.

Why vegan chocolates?

This answer has many layers. The high-level answer is that I wanted to create something that brought sweetness to people while reimagining what chocolate could be and making it accessible to people who had dietary and other restrictions:

I acquired a dairy allergy in 2016 to the point of hospitalization. I thought I could shake it but it only became worse and I realized that I needed to become very serious about my health. People usually turn to something sweet in stressful situations. So when originally thinking of my friends in lockdown, I wanted to share something that was without refined sugar and without dairy milk and that would remind others of childhood treats and sweeten their days while replacing cane sugar with monkfruit and dairy milk with oat milk (we LOVE using oat milk due to its neutral taste and flavor).

As I dove further into the chocolate industry, I also realized the terrible conditions many cacao farmers work under and the deforestation due to planting of cocoa trees. There is a pretty good Netflix documentary called “Rotten” in episode 5, season 2 the topic is ‘Bitter Chocolate’ that has an episode that discusses this.

Cacao is like wine… the taste varies depending on where it is grown - the soil, the climate, etc.. I believe I can change the world, one bite at a time, by providing awareness, education and information to consumers while elevating their chocolate experience in a way that is better for us as humans by using high quality, organic, and locally sourced (where possible) ingredients. I also am focused on providing farmers with a fair wage for their produce; and the environment through our use of eco-friendly and sustainable packaging as we deliver the package from our chocolate factory to your home.

What are your top lessons for being successful that you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?

Be honest with yourself and run the numbers. While you want your vision to grow the way you imagine, you also need to be aware of what people actually want and need. Run proof of concepts, test, test, test and use this data to inform your decisions

. A buyer once described how she would buy things she liked for her store, but also had to close her eyes and pick things she didn’t like because because the data showed people wanted those items and it would be a disservice to her customers (some of who may not share the same taste) to not offer that to them.

How do you manage a busy consulting job and a growing side hustle?

Scaling as fast as possible. When you start out, it’s just you - the start-up CEO (chief everything officer). In order to focus on the business, you need to be able to replace certain aspects of what you do and focus on the high value items (which is usually business development and sales growth). Finding talent is hard but you have to treat people well, and find people who believe in your story, the company’s story because all of a sudden the ideas really expand and grow. Read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight for inspiration.

Who are women you admire?

Thassunda Duckett (current TIAA CEO), Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Shonda Rhimes, Michelle O’Bama, and Melody Hobson. I feel like these choices need a mini explanation:

  • T (as many refer to her) from TIAA is a trailblazer and really advocating for people to be able to #retireinequality,
  • Oprah’s story from interviewing the Carvel ice cream man to landing a role in The Color Purple to who she is today.
  • Shonda for shining a bright light into an industry that was not always as representative and helping Black women, young and old, see a part of themselves in her thoughtfully curated content. My hat is off to her for creating Shondaland, a place where magic can happen through the creative elements of her trusting herself and sharing it with all of us.
  • Melody for breaking barriers down in the world of finance leading Ariel Investments and being authentic in how she shows up every day.
  • Serena for letting so many young Black women see themselves in someone who played in an industry where she wasn’t initially welcomed but has subsequently dominated.
  • Michelle brought awareness to health and education for children. Especially around nutrition. Being a mother, in the spotlight the way she was - handling it with grace. The courage she had to endure what she did, it’s admirable.

In reflecting on this list, I think it is women who break down barriers to make a path for others to thrive and be the best version of themselves. I think there’s a hidden theme here around authenticity and being who you are and feeling as though you have the grace and space to be. I may never meet these women, but I am so fortunate they dared to be and by doing so, gave me the space to do the same.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

Spending quality time with myself - meditating, singing, running. I have to return to myself to replenish my energy so that I can show up as the best version of myself for others - ready to pour and help elevate others on their life journeys.

What’s one trend you think will greatly impact us in 2023?

The shift to using AI more freely in the day-to-day activities that we engage in. I think some are afraid but if we remember that change is a constant I think any time something comes what we resist persists so to focus on how to embrace the change will be a more inviting and approachable and likely tenable way to handle the shift. If you have not yet thought this, I would ask the question “how can I leverage this technology to help me in my day-to-day?”

Do you have one great piece of advice on networking that you’d like to share?

Be genuine and authentic and an easy ask of people you meet isto ask the individual to connect you with one person the individual thinks it would be good for you to meet. Your network will expand infinitely with interesting people and be open to do the same for others.



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