When I set up a tea date with Tatiana of First Date Confections I was anticipating that I would be writing this blog about the ingredients of her delicious date-filled and dairy-free (aka Sam-friendly) chocolates, or about the process of developing new flavours. In reality, I’m going to talk about Tatiana herself.
I met her on a sunny afternoon on a patio in the middle of the suburbs. Tatiana instantly dove into stories about her life and how First Date came to be. She shared with me her journey of getting a Bachelors degree in Circus (I had no idea that was a thing) and how she pushed herself and her body every day to be the best she could be. It wasn’t family pressure, dreams of getting into a fancy post-grad program or another external pressure that drove her to work so hard, it was entirely her own personal drive. In addition to physically training all day in hand standing, she was also completing yoga teacher certification AND doing her nightly academic courses. Four years of this later she graduated and landed her dream job being a performer in Europe.
There’s a certain attitude that comes with being young and passionately pursuing your dreams – a little bit of ignorance and a lot of confidence in your indestructibility. It’s easy to think that you’re invincible when you’re in the best shape of your life and continually crushing your goals. Tatiana was no different and admittedly didn’t listen to her body the way she has learned to now. A day before she was supposed to leave for Europe she was diagnosed with a severe arm injury and would likely never perform again.
So what do you do when you’re driven and goal-oriented and wind up being told that your plan is officially de-railed? If you’re Tatiana, the answer is you find strength in positivity and make it happen for yourself in other ways.
My favourite part of the First Date story is that Tatiana created these chocolates for herself and never to be an entrepreneur. With a casted arm and a slew of food intolerances, she would wander the aisles of grocery stores looking for chocolate within her dietary restraints just to be disappointed again and again. So instead of complaining and missing out on her favourite dessert, she grabbed ingredients and a whisk (because that’s all she could use with her left hand and no help from her dominant right arm) and started mixing until she found something she loved. She kept making the chocolates for herself as the one treat she could have without any side effects and slowly started sharing them with friends when they joined her for a meal. They started asking to buy her chocolates and before she knew it more and more people in her life were encouraging her to start a business. Eventually she did and First Date was born. She still keeps true to her dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free recipe and keeps coming up with new flavours and collaboration items. It’s been less than a year and First Date is now in several stores in Calgary and rapidly growing.
I asked Tatiana what’s next for First Date and she told me that she now likes to keep an open mind and welcome all the possibilities. And while she still strives to be the best she can, she’s accepted that you can’t predict the future and life rarely exactly aligns with your expectations, so why stress over meeting every milestone when you can enjoy the journey? She credits yoga with helping her recognize that we live our lives in the future when what we really need to do is accept that where we are right now is exactly where we need to be.
I wouldn’t be doing First Date and Tatiana any justice if I didn’t talk about how AMAZING her chocolates are. Not only do they taste amazing, they are full of antioxidants, minerals and free from nuts, gluten, eggs, soy, refined-sugar and other common allergens. They still magically taste creamy and rich and I love that I can eat them without guilt and without fear of cross-contamination.
There are a variety of flavours offered including ones perfect for those who love to get their sweet fix first thing in the morning and don’t mind a hit of caffeine or matcha. She even has a ‘hot date’ with chile spices!
You can find First Date at Vitality Tap, Outside the Shape, Amaranth Market on 4th street, and Raw Eatery and Market