Former Nashvillian opens New Jersey chocolate company

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“It is said that time is the one true luxury, and we believe there’s always time for chocolate,” said Robert Bowden, the owner and founder of New Jersey chocolate shop Vivere.

Though he now resides in New Jersey, Bowden says that Nashville is where he truly grew up and became an adult. Bowden lived in Nashville after college, working at Church Street’s LGBT institution, OutLoud bookstore. Bowden’s move to New Jersey landed him an even more comical address: “From Church Street to Chocolate Avenue,” he joked. “The irony that I now live on a street with the honorary name Chocolate Avenue isn’t lost on me!”

Bowden’s interest in chocolate isn’t new. He explained, “Well, it has always been an industry that fascinated me. My dad worked as a contractor, and two chocolate companies hired him to build out their store fronts when I was a kid. I tagged along. Most of my adult life, though, was in luxury sales: horses, spas, hotels, etc. Shortly after moving to Jersey from Nashville, I met a local chocolatier looking to grow his business, and I jumped at the opportunity to learn from him.”

Vivere has been in development since last fall, and it finally opened on September 21, 2014. When asked why he named his business Vivere, which doesn’t immediately scream chocolate, he said that “the driving force behind the business is daring to live, hence the name: To inspire people to live in the moment and make the most out of life.”

Though only two months old, sales of Vivere’s artisan, handmade, gourmet truffles—with no preservatives or artificial flavors—are booming. “Our signature caramel, ‘Salted Fennel Caramel,’ recently won Bronze at the International Chocolate Salon this year for Top Luxury Caramel, so we are now having to make sure we stay on top of the growing demand. It is a great problem to have.”

Bowden said that in order to stay on top of their game and to keep their business growing, Vivere is going to “beef up our product line by adding new flavors. We are currently in negotiations to open a second retail shop. We are also looking to expose the product to Nashville through participating and partnering with LGBT events in that area. Our goal was to create a successful business that is connected to the LGBT community.” Chocolate AND charity sounds like a winning combination! What could be better?

When asked how Nashville could support one of its own, Bowden said, “I am totally open to the possibility of partnering with organizations and venues. I used to work at OutLoud back in the day, and being involved in the community has always been important.” He wants to continue to be active in Nashville and give back into the community that helped him to become an adult.

So, go check out his goodies at http://cocoavivere.com and on Facebook, and sample some truly delicious chocolate!

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