By Anastasia Iamachkine
My name is Anastasia Iamachkine, I am a tennis player and a college student-athlete at Pepperdine University. I founded Choconastu 2 years ago, the summer before starting college. Choconastu is a delicious chocolate bar made with organic cacao beans from Tingo Maria, a beautiful city located in the Peruvian rainforest. Currently, the Choconastu bars are available in 6 flavors (coconut, raisins, peanuts, aguaymanto (cape gooseberry), coffee, and the original-classic flavor).
Recently, we have partnered with two non-profit organizations “Mi Casa de Angles” (My house of Angels) and Sembrando Juntos that work together with the same mission of improving the quality of education for the impoverished children of Peru. For every chocolate bar our consumers’ purchase, Choconastu donates one sol (Peruvian currency) which is roughly equivalent to 30 US cents. I know it may not sound like a lot, but as the company grows so will the contribution because supporting organizations with such selfless purpose was always extremely important to me.
As of now, I’m only selling the chocolate bars in Peru, but the goal is to one day make it available worldwide. In 5 years, as my long-term goal, I want my chocolate brand “Choconastu” to be worth $5 million.
The idea of starting this new business happened when I was working out with my fitness coach at a gym and we started a conversation about food in general and then we transitioned into talking about deserts and how they are not very healthy whether its pastries or some snacks like chocolate bars of bad quality. As a chocolate lover myself, I thought how cool it would be to have a healthy chocolate bar and know the source of all the ingredients and how its made. Then he told me that he has a friend that makes chocolate bars with organic cacao in the city of Tingo Maria (an hour away from Lima by plane). So I was like let’s go and try that chocolate. I think that same day I booked the flight to Tingo Maria. I was very excited. Upon arrival, we met with Sergio, the owner of a small chocolate fabric. First, he took us to see the cacao plantations, and then he showed us how he makes the chocolate bars. I loved the taste of that chocolate. Since then we have partnered up. I asked my coach how we should name the brand? We thought for a while and then we came up with Choconastu (choco for chocolate and nastu - my nickname). My fitness coach designed the first logo which is a colored frog holding a cocoa bean. Right now I’m working with a designer that is creating a new logo and a new packing for my brand.
Many people ask me why do I have a colored frog holding a cocoa bean as a logo, and the story begins when I first joined a tennis academy. During fitness, I learned to jump the rope and I loved it. I was so excited that I got a rope and was jumping all the time around the club. That’s why my coach told me that in my past life I had been a frog. I liked that very much because I always identified with the colored frogs and the reason must be because they are agile and very versatile. In popular knowledge, the frog has been endowed with positive qualities. For the Mayans, the frog was a symbol of happiness that communicated with the gods and brought joy with their croaking. For that reason, my coach thought it would be a great idea to use it as a logo.
When I went to college I didn’t have much time to focus on the business because I had to take care of school and tennis. But during break I would work on it. Right now I’m in Lima and I’m working on the business as much as I can before school starts. I’m coming up with a new design for my brand and I’m adding additional flavors with a higher percentage of cacao (65%, 70%).
My passion for sports has guided me to find healthy foods that are grown in pure environments. Those that provide natural energy without losing its essence and flavor helping us to maintain performance and passion in everything we do. It is there where the CHOCONASTU project was born, a delicious chocolate bar made with organic cocoa beans which are grown in the city of Tingo María, Peru.