An entrepreneur in Dryden, Ont. has come up with a sweet solution to pay off her student debt.
Less than a year after launching The Bar Lady, her gluten-free chocolate company, Chelsea Szachury is close to reaching her initial goal of selling 10,000 chocolate bars – enough to pay off her three student loans.
"It's unbelievable," she said. "I'm so incredibly thankful of the support that the community has given."
"It just shows how great northwestern Ontario is in lifting up their younger generation so that they can succeed."
Szachury graduated last year with a degree in nutritional sciences. After seven years in school, she was excited to begin a new chapter in her life.
Creative solution to 'overwhelming' debt
Then she received a letter reminding her of her responsibility to pay off her loans.
"It was so overwhelming," she said, and more than she would be able to handle with just the income from her day job.
"That's when I decided I needed to get creative."
Szachury turned her attention to what she saw as a lack of gluten-free food options in her northwestern Ontario town.
She began perfecting a recipe for homemade gluten-free, dairy-free chocolate bars, made with dark cocoa, organic coconut oil, and maple syrup. The natural ingredients make them "guilt-free," she said.
She started advertising her chocolate bars on a local classified site, and sold more than 100 on the first night.
Szachury is now selling her chocolate bars at markets in northwestern Ontario, she's also launched a website, and is eyeing markets in other parts of the country.
"I feel like it's going to be very well received," she said.