Norman Love began producing beautiful, handcrafted chocolate in Fort Myers, Florida, in 2001. Known for artistry, premium ingredients and innovative flavor combinations, Love has been recognized for his ultra-premium chocolate and his unique chocolate shops, including the Chocolate Salon at University Town Center (UTC). This spot opened in 2020, bringing the company’s award-winning chocolates, specialty desserts, artisanal baked goods, coffees, novelty products, gelato and more to Sarasota. 

Love’s passion for the art of desserts came as a young child, when he visited his school’s book fair in the second grade and set his eyes on Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cookbook. From that moment on, he knew he was set to become a pastry chef. He followed his passion and began studying the art of pastry making in France and, from there, he began his career in the corporate world. After 13 years on the corporate side of pastry making at The Ritz-Carlton, Love decided to devote more time to his family. He left The Ritz-Carlton and moved into culinary events, specifically the first televised bakery competition, which became the basis for the TV series Food Network Challenge. He soon began making ultra-premium artisan chocolates by hand inside of a friend’s medical supply business. At first, he was just trying to make some extra money on the side and to sell to wholesalers. Eventually, though, word got out, and USA Today ranked Norman Love Confections in its top 10 list of places to buy chocolates for Valentine’s Day, putting the company on the map.

Norman Love Confections has grown throughout the years, opening four chocolate salons in Southwest Florida and one at UTC. The company has a thriving online and corporate business, with products in Whole Foods throughout Florida as well as in retail locations across the country. “I’m very proud of our roots here in Florida, and I’m most proud of my team and their dedication to the relentless pursuit of innovation, excellence and quality,” says Love. “As a business owner, providing jobs and opportunities for growth and career development has always been a priority. It brings me great joy to see our team grow professionally, even when that means they move on to bigger and better opportunities.”

At Norman Love Confections, the business strategy is simple and straightforward. “We come to work to be the best every day, and to be better than we were yesterday,” says Love. “I am very proud of the company’s continued growth. We now employ 125 people at Norman Love Confections, and that number is growing. I’m proud to say that our team shares my dedication to the relentless pursuit of innovation, excellence and quality, and we’ve been able to grow without compromising the caliber of our work.”

Since the opening of the first retail location, the Southwest Florida community embraced Love’s family and chocolates, and afforded them the opportunity to grow their retail business and their charitable efforts. “Supporting the community that supports our business has always been a priority,” says Love. “Norman Love Confections has always shared our sweet success by giving back to the Southwest Florida community. Although the company has an extensive national reach, we focus our charitable giving efforts in Florida, where our business was founded. As a family-owned company, we participate in a wide range of charitable giving efforts that touch the lives of people right here in our region.”

One major philanthropic effort for the company occurred following Hurricane Ian. After the devastating storm wreaked havoc throughout the local communities, Norman Love Confections created and sold 1,214 #SWFLStrong Florida Boxes online and in chocolate salons, with 50% of every purchase going to Better Together (a Southwest Florida-based nonprofit dedicated to serving families and children). “Our entire team at Norman Love Confections was so grateful to our customers for the overwhelming and generous response to our #SWFLStrong Florida Box and the chance to help our community,” shares Love. “So many families lost everything, and Better Together went door to door in the hardest-hit areas, distributing food, water and other relief supplies directly to families. They are still helping families to this day.” Love himself was able to join Better Together for a visit to a family, where he witnessed boots-on-the-ground support as the team helped a family that lost so much. Better Together gave the family a new bed for their toddler, provided them with food and essential household supplies, and even coordinated a dental appointment for the toddler. Thanks to the generosity of customers, Norman Love Confections donated $36,074 to Better Together to support the families hardest hit by Hurricane Ian.

More recently, through the company’s philanthropic work with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, Love met many families of children battling cancer. One young boy named Logan made an especially powerful impact on Love. “His mom reached out to me as he had recently ‘rung the bell’ to signify the end of his chemotherapy treatment. During his treatment, I had gifted Logan a chef’s coat and hat, along with a box of chocolates,” Love says. “When his treatment was over, his mom reached out and shared that Logan wants to be a baker when he grows up, so I invited him and his family to spend some time with me in the kitchen, learning the art of pastry. We had a fun time baking together. While I have supported the hospital over the years, I don’t know how this family has directly benefited from my support, but I’d like to think that I’ve played a part in making their experience just a little brighter. More importantly, meeting and spending time with Logan brought me joy. I think I benefited most from this experience.”

Over the past two decades, Norman Love Confections has provided tens of thousands of dollars of in-kind products to more than 200 local nonprofit organizations–something Love is proud of and honored to do. “My hope is that, over the years, the pretty, jewelry-like box in the little green bag represents ‘community’ as much as it does ‘chocolate,’ because giving back is the best way we know how to share the love,” Love says. SRQ  Every month in our Giving section, we showcase individuals who have made a real difference in the lives of others through their philanthropic spirit. This month, we are shaking things up and shining a light on a corporate good hero, Norman Love Confections, a for-profit company committed to giving back to the region. Norman Love Confections was honored as one of SRQ Magazine’s Good Heroes in March 2023.