July 2005

The Sweet Life
By Laurie Pike

Valerie Gordon is a yoga teacher who’s more into toffee than tofu. When the 34-year-old instructor told her private clientele that she was going into the confection business, they came on board first as taste-testers, then as investors. To develop Valerie Confections with her boyfriend Stan Weightman, Gordon would bring samples to her students, who run the gamut from lawyers to Beverly Hills housewives to interior designers. “It would get very specific,” she says, “with different cocoa percentages in the chocolate and different kinds of butter used.” Between sessions of perfecting Angelenos’ bodies, she wondered how she could bring her longtime love and expertise of candy-making to the competitive world of specialty chocolates. Toffee, she decided, needed its own makeover.

“Ganache had come to its pinnacle with flavor infusions, like curry and other esoteric elements,” Gordon says. “But toffee had not.” Instead of tricking it our post-modern style, Gordon and Weightman went retro, with the classic flavors (mint, ginger, orange and almond) and the kind of simple, well-designed packaging that makes people keep the box forever. Two of her yoga clients ponied up the cash to make Valerie Confections available in almost 30 stores, including Joan’s on Third and The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills.

Although Gordon doesn’t recommend a sugar rush before a session with her, she says there’s a “yogic mentality” to balancing both vocations. “The through-line between yoga and luxury chocolate is that both are about enjoying life.”

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