Six years ago, Cindy Karrels was happily ensconced as a flight attendant for Midwest Connect, the regional carrier of Midwest Airlines, when fate threw her life off course.
"It was all I wanted to do," Cindy said. "But when operations were taken over by another airline, I was laid off and had to reinvent myself."
Following a job skills assessment test offered by a local re-employment service, Cindy enrolled in the pastry arts program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. A subsequent field trip to a chocolate store sparked her true calling and, after three more years of studying, last November Cindy opened Fazio's Sweet Moments Sweet Life.
Located in the Elm Grove Park & Shop on Watertown Plank Road, Fazio's (Cindy's maiden name) offers traditional items, such as truffles, nut clusters and bark, along with a signature line of Italian-themed, artisan chocolates.
"I've always enjoyed baking and art, so owning a chocolate store allows me to incorporate these loves," Cindy said. "Through Fazio's, I honor my Italian heritage with a number of specialty chocolates."
Her husband, Mark handles the packaging duties and keeps the books, and daughter Erica leads the production end of the business.
Each individual chocolate is handmade, including Fazio's own Spumoni, Maria's Bellini and Leonardo's Favorite creations (the latter two named after Cindy's immigrant great-grandparents). The process — from delicately buffing the chocolate mold with a cotton ball to decorating — can take up to two hours to complete, but is time well spent, Cindy said.
"It's great when customers say it's like putting a piece of chocolate artwork in their mouth," she said. "We take special care in making attractive and delicious products, whether it's for our display cases, seasonal arrangements like Easter bonnets filled with chocolates, or special occasions, like baby showers and weddings."
Now a half-dozen years removed from the loss of her dream job, Cindy is content and philosophical about the path that led to her second career.
"Things happen for a reason," she said. "But, I've found that making chocolates is my passion. Life as a chocolatier is pretty sweet."
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JUST THE FACTS
NAME: Fazio's Sweet Moments Sweet Life
ADDRESS: 13425 Watertown Plank Road, Suite 7, Elm Grove
PHONE: (262) 923-7166
OWNER: Cindy Karrels
TYPE OF BUSINESS: chocolate shop
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