Anna was deeply devoted to her confectionery business. She did the most beautiful food that also happened to be delicious- Her store was small but people came from all over the city and nearby towns to eat some of her signature products such as the strawberry shortcake with extra flavor and the home-made candy bars that could have any flavor that people wanted. They could be personalized at the request of the client. The strangest flavor she had ever been asked was a mix between curry and lemon, which actually tasted pretty goof. Business was great and she handled everything by herself, having no need of a partner or someone else to take advantage of an idea she had while in high school. Back then, she already knew she wanted to cook the best desserts possible and she even tried new recipes with her family every Thursday night.
Life was good to Anna. She was happy with her business and had recently moved to a small but nice apartment in order to be more independent from her family. She was also considering an offer that would make her candy bat available at a major supermarket chain, which would make her products even more well known and the amount of money she would make was going to be huge. But she wasn’t really sure if to accept the proposal or not. She was afraid of, with time, losing control of her business and finally selling to a large company that didn’t have any love for the art or respect for her creations. It was something she thought every single night before going to bed and it made her a bit crazy. She wanted an answer fast, to know what to do.
She asked the advice of every member of her family and some of her friends and most of them agreed that of her small store could handle the amount of work, they should definitely sign the contract with the supermarket chain. After all, it wouldn’t be an industrial sized agreement and her products would only be sold there. It wasn’t like she was going to lose entire control of everything. So in her next meeting with the guy from the supermarket chain, she accepted and signed the contract. According to it, her store had to provide a thousand hand-made candy bars of several flavors. As they were normally personalized, they just asked her to make her top five flavors, whichever they were. She accepted and started hiring extra hands.
They had to work on weekends and the amount of ingredients that had to be bought was simply huge. Only her employees, the three that had been with her since the beginning, would be in charge of the store as such, cooking what people had learned to expect from it. Once a month there was a new product, proposed either by Anna or by some member of her staff. In the other hand, six people worked on weekends to produce candy bars for the supermarket. She had only two weeks before having to surrender her products so everything had to be very calculated and controlled.
The flavors chosen were orange yogurt, spicy lemon, raspberries in dark chocolate, pineapple and mango and, finally, their classic passion fruit flavor. Those were the ones people had learned to love in her store since its opening only two years earlier and she was proud her clients proved to be such innovative people. They were always really open about the new sweets and were always very kind when submitting their opinions. Anna had created, with help from a friend, a web page where clients could see all of her products and also comment about every single one of them. She would normally use one night per week to read the new comment and use whatever she may find useful from them. Normally, she just laughed or felt proud but sometimes people had interesting ideas and she credited them for the ones that became successful products.
However, things began to decline after the second months of her contract with the supermarket chain. It all started when her weekend workers started to demand a higher salary. They thought they were exploited by Anna at their current salary, working like mad from dusk till dawn every Saturday and Sunday and even some Mondays. They argued that her store made enough money to pay everyone fairly. Apparently, they resented the fact that her store staff made more money than them, which she had explained once as been simply because of seniority. The thing was they didn’t want to hear none of that. They just wanted more money or they would stop coming and that would be the perfect way to destroy Anna’s creation, and pride, for good.
On the other hand, the supermarket chain had begun complaining about the quality of the candy bars that were sent to them the third week of contract. Apparently, they lacked the flavor and they accused Anna of sing less ingredients to make more bars which was ridiculous because her order was always the same. She didn’t even fake to be offended and stormed out of the office of one of the executives of the supermarket chain. Anna knew very well it hadn’t been her brightest moment but she couldn’t stand to be accused of doing something she would never do. Seeking a lawyer, she finally found a good one thanks to a friend. She had a meeting with him and asked about the possibilities of ending the contract with the supermarket chain.
The lawyer, a very serious and older man, browsed through the contract and finally advised her not to end it as the repercussions to her would be simply too difficult to bare. She would have to pay a lot of money and her company would be bankrupt even before paying all of what she had to pay, if she decided to walk away from the contract. Again, Anna had trouble sleeping at night with so much to think about. She finally decided to raise the salary of her workers but not as much as they had hoped. It was clear to them by her words that no more raises would be granted before the end of the contract. Some workers left but she hired new ones and the quality of the chocolate began to improve.
Anna also had a conversation with the supermarket chain, in which she announced her intentions of not renewing her contract with them but meeting their quotas and demands for the current contract. They really did not have anything to say because they couldn’t really pressure her into signing for one more year or even more time. The work relationship was tense there and they even threatened to sue if the quality of the candy bars was ever too low for their standards. But as she begun to closely watch the production of the candy for that damn contract, they had no base from which to keep annoying her. The candy bars where as tasty as always and her employees were finally happy or at least not aggressive. That was already an improvement.
However, she never expected one of her trusted workers in the store to go away. Her name was Linda and she had been by Anna for many years, as they knew each other from high school. Linda announced her intentions to leave but not for any salary reasons or because she had grown to dislike the whole thing. It was more like the opposite: she had learned to love making sweets so much that she had decided to became a professional. She wanted to study a full four-year career in order to learn everything there was to know and become the best candy maker ever. Linda had always been pretty ambitious but Anna had failed to see that because of her own ambitions. When Linda announced her departure, she asked her for forgiveness and hugged her tight. Anna also told her she had a place in the store any time she wanted to come back, even if she became world renowned.
Anna celebrated with everyone on her staff, both from the weekends and from the store, the end of the contract with the supermarket chain. There were rumors they had copied the recipes and now they were going to produce the candy themselves or that maybe rival stores would provide them with the candy that Anna had refused to give them ever more. One or the other, Anna was glad all of that ordeal had ended because she had realized that her dream was a place where she could do her own thing and experiment and be close to her clients. That contract had crushed the soul of her idea and now she needed it back in order to make it beautiful and bright again.
The following month, she released a whole new set of products, all with exotic fruits and ingredients that would surprise everyone. She had been doing research for weeks and cooking at home to finally come up with some sort of prize to her devoted store clients who hadn’t left her in the year she had been busy doing candy bar for a corporation. The flavors and the candy were loved by everyone and she even had to ask three of her weekend workers to stay and help in the store. Her family grew that way and she realized that her life was better than ever because now she knew what she really wanted to do and what really made her happy. Her heart was always sweet and, now, more than ever.