The Oh-so-sweet dreams of Jackie Millington
Jackie Millington’s long-standing love for making chocolates reaches back to her high school days when she would spend a lot of time in her mother’s kitchen concocting a variety of flavors and styles to give as gifts and treats.
She can’t say where it came from, but it’s a passion that flavored much of her teenage years. She remembers being on a Caribbean cruise as a 16-year-old and rather than joining her friends on land excursions she spent much of her time in the kitchen learning how to master the fine art of chocolate making.
At the back of her mind then, she contemplated making her “hobby” a part of her plans for the future. An idea that became even more enticing when friends and family would gush over the quality and taste of her creations.
“Almost every time I gave my chocolates to people around me, they would ask, ‘where did you buy this’? And they would be so surprised when I told them that I made it, and they would always be encouraging me, saying that I should be selling it,” Millington told the CONTACT during a little sit-down at her delightful little store on Somerled Street in NDG.
The store has been open for a little bit more than a year. It’s cozy and welcoming, and carries a variety of artisan homemade chocolates and other sweets along with different types of gourmet cupcakes and other baked treats, all hand-made and expertly packaged and presented by Millington.
She says her customers value the choices available to them at Festive Creation.
“It’s definitely not like buying the pre-packaged chocolates,” she says. “Here they’re allowed to choose six different types, twelve different types… white, brown, dark… their choice.”
What’s important she says, is that once they’ve tried her products, people are coming back for more.
That show of support and encouragement is empowering to the young Montrealer in these early days when the foundation of her business and her confidence are a little shaky.
“There’re days when I wonder if I did the right thing… starting this business,” she says. “But it is my passion, and I’m not sure that I can do a ‘nine-to-five’ with a boss looking over me anymore.”
She says when it seems a little overwhelming there’re friends that she can lean on, and mommy and daddy are always there as rocks of support. Mom Janet Brown and dad Clarence Millington are both from Jamaica and have always encouraged her to go after her dream.
Millington, who was born in Montreal, says she nurtured her idea of becoming an entrepreneur throughout her time at Wagar High School, then at Vanier College, right on to Concordia University where she completed a degree in Communications. But she knew she needed to have some money on hand if she wanted to go into business.
She took a job in the accounting department at IBM and set about padding her nest egg that was to be her business. After eight years, she felt that she had enough of the job and was ready to answer the call of entrepreneurship only to find out that she wasn’t quite ready.
“While making my preparations, it didn’t take me long to realize that I needed more money if I were to make a successful go at the business. I needed money to pay my bills.”
The enterprising Millington decided to work for two years as a manager at Jean Coutu, during which time she picked up a lot of what she considers to be valuable tidbits about business and management that continue to help her these days.
She says she decided to set up shop on Somerled in western NDG because she grew up and lives in the area and noticed that when she wanted a chocolate treat or other delicacies there was nothing nearby.
As it is with most start-ups, Millington struggled to get Festive Creations off the ground, and when she did the never-ending work the responsibilities and uncertainties that came with the business were more than she could have ever imagined.
“But you know what?” she says, bubbling with the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store ,“I think I’ve grown accustomed to doing what I have to do, and at the same time I don’t think I’ll ever get use to the financial uncertainties. That for me is very troubling, but I’m learning to adapt.”
That said, Millington is excited about the journey that she has embarked upon as she turns her hobby into a business, and she remains confident that she is adding her special touch to the culinary potpourri that is the food scene in this city.
And she extends an invitation to the community and to Montrealers far and wide to visit her little chocolate emporium on Somerled Street in the westend.
Festive Creations: 6570 Somerled, Mtl. H4V 1S9…438-384-6874