Posted on May 31 2021
Caro and Pablo met at the art institute. Not the wholesome story of college lovebirds, but rather a salacious tale of teacher and student! Obviously, we’re putting a lot of pepper and hot sauce on it, but Pablo really was Caro’s teacher at some point. THEN, they fell in love, and then they started a business together.
Caro – a professional graphic designer and art director for ad agencies with an irrational fear of buttons (the glossy ones that go one your clothes). Pablo – an illustrator and animator for TV, magazines, and publicity that shared his expertise at the local art institute in Caracas, Venezuela. Whoever said love and business don’t mix wasn’t working with the right batter.
And speaking of stale batter, Caro and Pablo’s passion while working for corporate overlords was as bland and tough as a three-day-old scone. While making toothpaste ads, Caro was thinking about the knick-knacks at her grandmother’s house, and while he was at the whiteboard, Pablo was thinking about his growing collections of Star Wars paraphernalia, squeaky toys, and other assorted curios. Eventually, they decided to stop just reminiscing about past nostalgia and instead to make it their daily obsession. Rather than at least one of them holding on to a steady paycheck, they thought they would be more successful together. Plus, the pie is always sweeter when you cook it together.
So, they decided to turn their love of all things vintage, weird, and collectible into a funky sugary business. One day, they were brainstorming names for their new business over a cup of hot chocolate at the local churro chain. Something was missing, however, and it wasn’t the snacks – those were crunchy, sugary, and chocolatey; but the names were not. In the midst of a heated discussion, Caro knocked a cup of hot chocolate off balance and all over Pablo making a sweet chocolatey mess. And if there’s one thing to know about Pablo, it’s that he hates messes. After a sticky, grumpy, unproductive hour they were at their wit's end. “Let’s just call it Hot Chocolate Design. I’m over it!” complained Caro. Pablo, drenched in chocolate, had no complaints.
With every passing day, the name got sweeter and sweeter – perfectly fitting for a couple of children who never learned to eat their vegetables working out which of their toys and childhood memories they could turn into designs. They still didn’t have a flagship product, but the idea of shoes was floating around somewhere. Not sure what design to choose, they decided to start with what is arguably the best flavor: red cherry!
If you’ve been a fan of Hot Chocolate, then surely you own or have dreamed about a pair of Chocolaticas Cherry, one of our most popular designs. Imagine these, but both covered in cherries, both the same. Unthinkable, right? Well, that was the original idea for Caro and Pablo’s newborn business.
Even at that point, there were plenty of naysayers. It’s 2004, nobody is gonna buy shoes on the Internet, they said. The designs are too weird, nobody’s gonna wear ‘em, they said. Not only were Caro and Pablo so certain of their vision that they didn’t let these voices stop them, but they wanted to make an even bigger statement.
“Why does each shoe have to be the same as the other? It’s not like we walk with both feet at the same time. One always goes ahead of the other.” Pablo philosophized at Caro, as he often did. Half listening but half intrigued, she kept doodling. “Each shoe needs independence, emancipation from its other half!” At this point, Pablo was yelling and Caro was starting to interpret a veiled commentary about their relationship between the lines.
“What exactly are you proposing?” Her tone implying great caution.
Sensing the possible danger, Pablo decided to explain his idea visually, mocking up a shoe next to the original print with a simple single cherry. Caro looked at Pablo, eyes wide and grinning. “One shoe is different!” She echoed.
It worked! It was fun and new and the perfect symbol for their union: messy but perfect, just perfect. Ever since then, they’ve been sharing their quirky wild love for nostalgia with their entire country and eventually the world. Supported by people who want to be different and show it, for people who want to leave conventional and what “should be” behind, taking a risk to be themselves. The rest is a hot cup of history!