Alumna Spotight: Paula Novacki, `14
Ever wondered what life after graduation will look like? Meet Paula Novacki!
As a child, Meg O’Malley worked in a chocolate shop. Now, this 2016 public relations graduate is running her own.
After being laid off from her public relations job last year, O’Malley decided it was time.
“It was always my plan,” she said. “I planned on working a normal PR job until I was older, saved up some money and got some experience. After I was laid off, I realized it was a blessing in disguise and it was time to do it.”
O’Malley’s chocolate shop Sweet Revenge Custom Chocolate, located in New Jersey, offers traditional products like chocolate-covered pretzels and nuts, and custom products like wedding and corporate favors. Her bestseller is called the Lackawanna Rod.
“My first job was at Carlo’s Bakery in Jersey City,” she said. “The factory used to be the old railroad factory and was called the Lackawanna Railroad. When I started this business, I wanted to name a product after the Lackawanna Factory because it was really a great experience for me and taught me a lot. It’s a pretzel rod dipped in caramel, coated in Rice Krispies and dipped in milk chocolate.”
O’Malley’s mother helped come up with the name ‘Sweet Revenge.’
“It’s kind of a play on words,” she said. “After I was laid off, my mom told me, ‘The best revenge is happiness.’ Then we were talking about sweets, and it hit me: sweet revenge!”
One thing O’Malley hadn’t anticipated when starting her company is that she would start at the onset of a global pandemic.
“Going through the process, having certain guidelines like wearing masks and allowing only a few people in the store at a time was a challenge. It was brand new to me, but it was new to everyone. I was very lucky that I was able to keep my business going. So many businesses didn’t survive.”
Her most memorable experience so far was opening the storefront last September.
“I opened the business in January but didn’t get the shop until September,” she said. “In New Jersey, you can’t sell something you make out of your home. For a while, I was renting space out of bakeries and doing a lot of deliveries. I really felt a sense of accomplishment when I got the shop. I built it out, installed all these sinks, and I got to make the shop how I wanted it. I got to paint it, put the furniture the way I wanted, and it was really exciting for me.”
O’Malley credits her family for their support of her business.
“My whole family really pitched in to help me with this,” she said. “I had my mom, dad and brothers doing deliveries. We also did a lot of curbside pick-ups because in New Jersey, that’s mainly how we got our food.”
Thanks to her experience in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, O’Malley felt confident in starting her business.
“It really prepared me for the business aspect,” she said. “I learned so much about marketing and social media. When you start a chocolate business, you don’t think it’s going to be a huge aspect. But customers have said to me, ‘your marketing is excellent! Who do you use?’ And I tell them I do it, because that’s what I went to school for. I do pretty much everything. It’s definitely a lot of work, but for now I like having control of every aspect.”
September will make one year since the opening of the store, and O’Malley hopes to host a grand opening.
“I want to host the grand opening to say, ‘we’re here and we’re staying for a long time.’ And I’d really like to invent some new creations.”
O’Malley has grown immensely as a result of starting her business, and she advises young entrepreneurs to “just go for it.”
“Don’t let anything keep you from doing it. It’s going to be scary and you’re going to be hesitant, but if it’s your dream and what makes you happy, then it’s all going to be worth it.”