Take a Master’s Degree in Economics, an untapped passion for art, a 40th birthday – and you get Artfully Chocolate and Artfully Paper in Alexandria.
Now, the path wasn’t really quite that simple but each of these elements combined to create what are two of the most popular shops in one of the most popular neighborhoods in Alexandria – our very own Del Ray.
I’m going to let you read here about how Eric Nelson made the transition from high-flying lobbyist to hands on owner of a mini-chain of retail stores because what I want to focus on are the shops, Artfully Paper and Artfully Chocolate, or, to be precise, Artfully Chocolate/Kingsbury Chocolate (ACKC).
Located on Mt. Vernon Avenue between Howell and Windsor Avenues, Artfully Paper and Artfully Chocolate appeal to those who like both one stop shopping and special treats.
Artfully Paper is chocked full of ribbon, wrapping paper, cards, cocktail napkins, magnets, writing implements, costume jewelry, etc., etc. It’s the perfect place to pop in for that last minute gift or the “thing” you didn’t know you needed. Then, walk out the door, turn left for 10 or 12 steps and open the door on Artfully Chocolate.
This the place for special treats – the place where you can buy a single, exquisite chocolate or an entire gift basket of chocolate goodies. Eric and his business partner/chocolatier Rob Kingsbury have stocked Artfully Chocolate with the most amazing handmade chocolates, truffles, fudge, sugar creams, triple nut clusters, cashew toffee, Fleur de Sel Caramels, licorice, etc. etc.
And then there are the Divas! The Divas are chocolate specialty drinks that can be served hot or as an ice cream dessert or, perhaps in the heat of summer, as the most decadent milk shake on the planet.
For instance, the “Carmen Miranda” is a fruit mix of raspberries in dark chocolate with a whipped cream bonnet decorated with dried strawberries and mangoes. The “Judy Garland” is milk chocolate with a shot of hazelnut covered in whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles. And the “Bette Davis” is milk chocolate infused with almond syrup and topped with whipped cream and toasted coconut flakes.
Need I say more?
Oh, remember we mentioned an untapped passion for art?
Well, Eric found his own diva – a technique that uses translucent acrylic paint on Mylar – and his works are displayed on the walls of both shops and as table tops in Artfully Chocolate. He has sold over 200 pieces, a immensely rewarding acknowledgment of why he started all this in the first place.
What’s next for Eric and Rob? They are considering a Maryland location (there is already one in DC) but the idea I like best is a shop in Alexandria that would sell supplies for chocolate making and offer classes.
But don’t wait, indulge yourself now, at Artfully Chocolate and Artfully Paper, you’ll be glad you did.