Park Forest woman’s specialty: chocolate-flavored inspiration
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent August 13, 2014 1:34PM
Park Forest businesswoman Helena Rogers founded Chocolate Therapy for Women in 2011. Her business offers women a series of seminars, specifically for women, with a chocolate treat as part of every session. | Ginger Brashinger/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 15, 2014 4:39PM
Helena Rogers is a businesswoman whose business benefits other women.
Rogers founded “Chocolate Therapy for Women,” a seminar series that combines information, inspiration and motivation with a touch of sweet chocolate indulgence.
“As women, we do everything for everybody else, so (I) try to get women to think about treating yourself,” Rogers said.
The idea to incorporate chocolate into a series of seminars came to the Park Forest resident in 2008 as she sat in her “favorite chair” in her bedroom, she said, musing about what career path to take next.
Rogers said she was forced to close down her two-year-old business as the franchise owner of the Chicago South Suburban Women’s Newspaper when the economic downturn of 2008 made it difficult to get ad sponsors.
Rogers bought the franchise in 2006 because she was encouraged by her success publishing a newsletter for friends and family called “Mother’s Wit.” The mother of two children — Aundrea, 24, and Jared, 17 — Rogers began sending the newsletter to a few friends and family who then requested she send it to other women. Eventually, Rogers said, her mailing list grew to “about 60 or 70 people.”
When she had an opportunity to head a publication for women on a larger scale, Rogers set about doing it, hiring an editorial consultant, a graphic designer and a team of women to deliver her papers to establishments in the south suburbs, as well as parts of Chicago’s South Side.
Rogers said the first issue was published in January, 2007. Her business grew enough to successfully pay her employees, but all profitability was gone by the end of 2008, she said.
Never a quitter, Rogers said she learned from the best about moving forward. Her mother, Myrna Brady, earned a bachelor’s degree from Governors State University at age 79, Rogers said. As a stay-at-home mom to Rogers and her five sisters, Brady encouraged each of them as they earned their college degrees, as well as her late husband, Hezekiah. When her husband died, Myrna Brady committed herself to getting a college degree.
If her mother is an inspiration, Rogers said, her husband Johnny is her motivation.
Rogers said while she researched her business idea and added to the “notebook of ideas” she always carried, it was her husband who told her she needed to move on with actually starting her business or it would just be “another idea in a notebook.”
Rogers said her husband told her, “If nobody shows up except your mom and your sisters — and you know they will — you’ve got to do this because you can make this happen.”
Rogers said her husband’s frank words got her moving. She found the Heritage Room at Prairie State College, a “beautiful room” that would accommodate the participants, as well as one Rogers could afford.
Then she set about contacting her speakers.
“I’ve had professional organizers, I’ve had interior designers ... I’ve had doctors, nutritionists,” Rogers said. “I’ve had women who are on the second act in their lives.”
In every seminar, Rogers said, two or three women speak on the same topic, an unusual approach that has proved to be successful.
“I always feature a local not-for-profit,” Rogers said. She said she was inspired to include them because her father, a pastor, began a nonprofit to benefit children in Pembroke Township, where Rogers was raised.
“I’ve always had that sensitivity to not-for-profits and the work that they do,” she said.
Rogers said the seminars are frequently interactive, each seminar has raffles, and gift cards and flowers are giveaways.
“Then at the very end, we have a chocolate treat,” Rogers said. “What woman doesn’t like chocolate treats?”
Although many of the seminars are still held in the Heritage Room, Rogers said, “I will bring Chocolate Therapy to you.”
Growing her business is a goal for Rogers. She believes her seminars can provide that time to regenerate that so many women need.
“Take this two hours on a Saturday morning and come and learn something new — get inspired, get motivated. That’s why I really pay close attention to the topics that I do and to the speakers, because I want this to be something they will remember,” Rogers said. “They’ll say, ‘I need to go back to that.’ ”
For more information, visit www.chocolatetherapyforwomen.com or visit the Chocolate Therapy for Women page on Facebook.