A Port Moody woman’s kind gesture to connect with her community has turned into an unexpected business opportunity.
Carolina Paula moved to the city from Montreal just three months ago in pursuit of a more meaningful lifestyle.
To put her plan into action, she sought out a local organization that might appreciate a spontaneous act of kindness.
Before the holiday season, Paula reached out to the Tri-Cities Transitions Society and offered to create each of the women or families in their care a batch of brigadeiros, a sweet truffle confection that’s served at special occasions like Christmas and birthdays in her native Brazil.
The work of the Transitions Society — supporting women and families escaping domestic abuse — is close to Paula’s heart as she says more than 70 per cent of the female population in her homeland have suffered some sort of violence in their lifetime.
The connection made, Paula set to work in the kitchen of the apartment she shares with her husband and her dog, Charlie.
With Charlie at her feet, Paula started heating the evaporated milk and cocoa powder mixture that are the base for the soft treats, then rolled them into little balls and sprinkled them with various flavours like coconut, coffee and nuts.
The task brought back memories of her younger years in northwest Brazil, eating the sticky brigadeiros mixture straight out of the pan, watching her grandmother roll plates full of the chocolatey confections.
“She was responsible for all the goodies at the birthday parties,” recalled Paula, who likens brigadeiros to “a sweet taste of happiness.”
To make her gift extra special, Paula crafted colourful little paper caddies for each soft ball, then packed them into small cake boxes tied with ribbons.
She made enough to bring smiles to each of the eight families being helped by Transitions at the time.
A few days after dropping the truffles off, Paula was contacted by Transitions’ program director to thank her for her kind gift and enquire whether she made the brigadeiros as a business.
A light bulb went off above Paula's head and by mid-January she’d received her FoodSafe qualification, set up @sweetcarolina accounts on Facebook and Instagram and created a menu of offerings for sale, from a sampler box of eight brigadeiros to brigadeiros in a jar — each packed with a card that tells a little about their history and significance to Brazilian culture.
Paula, who once worked in the restaurant industry, said food has a way of bringing people together and she loves the opportunity to share a bit of her heritage.
She said she hopes her little enterprise won’t just tickle tastebuds but also bring smiles and bridge divides.
For now, Paula said, her confections are just a sideline gig to her full-time occupation in the security industry.
But her journey to get there has affirmed her decision to head west and land in Port Moody, that she chose after careful research on the internet to determine which Metro Vancouver community had the most to offer in terms of connection and fellowship.
“When we’re all together, we can make the world a better place,” Paula said.