Next Stop – “Adult Colouring Books”

I have always believed in ‘Healing through art

So in keeping up with my philosophy, I have decided to launch my collection of “Adult Colouring Books”

It has been proven that colouring can be beneficial for adults; namely for its de-stressing power. It generates wellness, quietness and also stimulates brain areas related to motor skills, the senses and creativity!

Coming soon….

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The night

Jamie was sweating profusely. Her room at this ramshackled, old motel inn wasn’t worth much, but the least you would expect was an air-conditioning system that functioned normally. But no! That was way too civilised for this run-down inn.

Getting out of her bed, she decided to go outside and have a ciggy on the veranda. Unlocking her door, she stepped out into the cool, dark air. It was so silent here, and the parking lot facing her room was completely empty.

Lighting up her cigarette, she realised that this was her last one, she’d have to go downstairs and buy a packet from one of the cigarette dispensers she had seen earlier. Taking a long slow inhalation of nicotine-filled air, she allowed the air to enter her lungs. After what seemed like a minute, she exhaled it out. Wow! That felt so good, so much like home. Going in for the second round, she let her eyes wander around the scenery surrounding her.

Thick woods covered the outskirts of the property, full with trees, shrubs and green leaves. The sound of the rustling leaves, moving gently in coordination with the light breeze was so relaxing. It actually was much cooler here than inside that furnace like room of hers. It was a good decision on her part, coming outside to cool down!

Strangely her eyes settled on something white far ahead, in the bushes. It seemed like a statue of some sort, a little girl maybe, she could tell because it was the only thing that wasn’t swaying with the wind, in her line of sight. What an odd place to have a statue she thought. And white? It was covered with thick brown shrubs around it and that pale colour didn’t sit well! Odd! She thought, how come she hadn’t noticed it before, and it was right in front of her room?

Taking in another puff of her cigarette, she realised that her ciggy was nearly reaching its end, and it was getting chilly out here! Nodding her head, she smiled at herself thinking this to be so typical for her, never satisfied with anything….too hot, now too cold. Trying to close the front of her night coat, she decided to grab some change from her wallet on her bedside table. Deciding quickly that she would buy that pack…maybe two packs of lights, before calling it a night.

She entered into her room, rushing towards the table, grabbing her wallet and room key. Stepping outside her room, she closed the door and inserted the key into the slot, locking her oven-room, it really was too warm in there. Turning around, she looked around her, trying to figure out if she should take a left or right to get to the stairs leading downstairs to that cigarette-dispenser. Her sense of direction was horrid, so she tried to think logically, trying to orient herself, when a movement caught her eye suddenly. She looked straight ahead from where she thought she saw something move. She couldn’t miss it, it was that white statue again, only it wasn’t in the bushes, covered with shrubs. It was right at the centre of the parking lot, standing there, this little white stone girl, looking up at her.

Jamie wasn’t easily scared, but there was a strange feeling creeping up in her. Was this fear? She could swear that those eyes looked so real…even from here she could see the eye-lids close and open, like normal people did. But…this wasn’t a person, it was white stone…or wasn’t it? And how did it move? It wasn’t moving now, it just stood there, looking at her.

Still trying to figure out what was happening here, Jamie’s wallet slipped from her hands. Without even thinking, she bent down to pick it up. Straitening up, she looked back in front of her, searching for those eyes. But it was gone….nothing…no statue, the parking lot looked bare and empty. Jamie felt like she was losing it. Could she have imagined all of this?
Hesitantly she decided to get moving and buy that pack of cigarettes and get back to bed. It must have been quite late, or early in the morning, she could see the full moon shining it’s light onto the parking lot. Moving steadily on she walked to her right and after what seemed like ages, saw the top of the stairs, leading to the ground floor.

She took the curved stairs and was delighted to see the cigarette dispenser at the end of the corridor. She went ahead and dropped the coins into the slot to purchase 2 packs. She heard the machine start up and the coil started moving around her packet, to release it from its hold. Like dutiful soldiers, two packets fell from the shelf onto the bottom of the machine. Jamie, pushed open the sliding door and grabbed her packets and slipped them into the pockets of her night gown. Looking up, what she saw in front of her startled her…

A few steps ahead, stood that little girl statue in front of her. Jamie was speechless and she started trembling. So this was what fear felt like? Jamie wanted to run, so she stealthily looked to her right and started moving in the direction her eyes had already marked. But she felt herself stopping dead in her tracks, because there was another one of these statues standing there. Reacting quickly, Jamie turned and started running towards her left. From the corner of her eye, she saw that the two states were slowly moving in her direction, they seemed to be following her.

Her heart was pounding strong in her chest, she felt like her legs might just give in and crumble, because the panic was getting to her. She saw stairs up ahead, which relieved her temporarily. Running up the stairs, she reached the first level and saw that the corridor leading to her room was empty. She continued running towards her room, which was now a few feet away. Reaching for the key in her pocket, she grabbed it and shoved it into the key slot, turning it to unlock her door.

Pushing open the door, she ran in and quickly shut it, turning the key into the slot again to lock the door. Panting she felt the heat emanating from her and from the room. But she had other things to worry about because sitting on her bed were the two little white statue girls. Their skin was beginning to peel off, or was it melting? It looked like drops of molten wax, now falling onto the brown carpet of her room.

Jamie slowly turned around, reaching for the key, trying to unlock the door and escape this insane night. Tears forming in her eyes, lips quivering, her sight was getting hazy, when she heard a little voice from behind her say: “Mommie, why did you do this to us?”

Flash Fiction by ©Chriselda Barretto

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Interview with Laurence Koutny – Founder of ‘Art of Chocolate’ & Winner of 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman Award

Laurence Koutny – Founder of ‘Art of Chocolate’ & Winner of 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman award

Hello Laurence, it is such a pleasure and honour to have you speak with me today! You have over 17 years in the chocolate industry…Truly amazing! Could you tell us some more about you, the woman behind all this knowledge and experience?

Hello, nice to meet you. Indeed, I am passionate about chocolate. As a kid, I was a fan of my Cote d’Or, as a student I started to discover the world of the candy-bar, when I finished my university, what a dream……Mars employed me on the campus. I worked there for 3 years understanding the world of multinationals and chocolate.

I then moved to Levi’s and travelled a lot. After years, my passion for chocolate came back and I got the dream job @ Godiva Chocolates. I was in charge of Marketing, the Retail design and then the entire innovation internationally.

I realised how much the Belgian savoir-faire was highly respected and recognised around the world. I then thought about how important it was to continue to claim our savoir-faire.

Your experience is overwhelming considering the various fields you have worked in, to mention a few: Accessory, Fashion, Sport, Education….Which one of these fields spoke to you the most and why?

I love fashion as it’s a continuous innovation process. You need to reinvent all the time and make people feel good in what they wear.

I love sport as it’s a must to live and to feel good and more importantly experience nature.

I love chocolate as it’s the best indulgence in life and then finally what’s best to pass legacy and educate people on what you love.

Which project has been the most difficult for you in your entire career?

On the 30 years of my career, there have been several.

Probably, the most recent one was the celebration of the 90th anniversary of Godiva in February 2016, where I organised an event with 150 journalists from all around the world. This event happened between the terrorist attack in Paris in November 2015 and the one in March 2016 in Brussels.

The level of stress was very high at our event, with everybody thinking that an attack might occur while we organised a week of events for these very important journalists.

You also were the winner of the 2013 Belgian Business Manager Trends Woman Award! That is a prestigious title to have! What were your feelings when they announced you as the winner?

I felt so thrilled as I had no idea I would win. It was a tough process to get there but when they call you on stage, I felt so proud……..amazing experience!

You are the founder of “Art of Chocolate”. Tell us about your journey in getting this huge project started?

It was a natural journey…after 17 years in chocolate, passionate about it, convinced that we have major talents in Belgium on the matter, I thought it was a must to share this savoir-faire worldwide.

I talked about my academy with highly respected people in the industry, to teach everything about chocolate from the bean to the consumer experience, to buying chocolate. They followed me on my thinking and supported me in the adventure.

Has “Chocolate” changed your life, because I know that the masterclasses you offer, do train and change other people’s lives?

Yes it did. I saw so many things in life but the most amazing thing is to see every smile on each face when people taste chocolate, not only chocolate but good chocolate. The nice thing is to keep contact with the participants after they pass by our masterclasses and see how they applied their learning.

One opened a chocolate shop in Ghana, another one launched a food truck ‘bean to bar’, and another one re-merchandised his entire store….so many nice stories!

I am so curious together with all my readers, to know more about your masterclasses. Could you tell us some more on that?

In the heart of Brussels, ‘Art of Chocolate’ delivers dynamic masterclasses aimed at chocolatiers, chocolate entrepreneurs, chocolate professionals in any field or anyone with a passion for chocolate from anywhere in the world, and interested in learning from the best to take their chocolate skills to a new level.

The philosophy is to cover all the steps from the bean to the consumer experience and cover the entire chain.

Our interactive masterclasses are centred around the following themes:

  • The chocolate making process for starting chocolatiers
  • Advanced chocolate making – Bean to bar
  • Sensory – Creating innovative, premium products
  • Building a successful chocolate business through developing rich customer experience

Please share with us some of your expertise in building a strong, coherent team and its impact on one’s business!

People are the base of everything if you want to succeed in business! It is crucial to have people with the same passion, respect and vision. With “Art of Chocolate”, I only met fully passioned, talented people who are ready to share their knowledge with others.

Everybody respects each other for their competency and the way they complement each other towards one same goal to train about the Belgian chocolate savoir-faire.

I replicated a recipe that I used during the last 30 years with the large numbers of teams I have had to manage.

Have there been other role-models that you have looked up to, or that have influenced you in some way?

There have been many people who had a real impact on my life. From a famous side, it goes from Mandela to Madonna to MèreThérésa (Mother Teresa) to Arétha Franklin to Simone Veil to Jorge Donn to Stromae to finally some amazing chocolatiers such as Laurent Gerbaud, Pierre Marcolini, Jean-Christophe Hubert from Milenisme, Patrick Roger, Stephane Leroux  and many others for their beliefs and passion!

Then on my career side, with 23 different bosses, you have some who really show you the paths and those who you really don’t want to be like, and you learn a lot from that too.

What is your advice to young entrepreneurs?

I wouldn’t say enough, have the passion for what you do, believe in what you do with concrete facts to validate your idea and be honest to admit the skills you miss and surround yourself with others who have those skills, to allow you to shine in your best qualities.

You must have a very busy schedule. What does a normal workday look like to you?

After a good breakfast….. it goes from managing the social network to recruiting participants; having to contact them to understand their real motivation. To develop new courses with teachers and to meet people for consultancy jobs, to organise sessions and prepare all the material.

Days go fast…..I constantly meet new fascinating people with the same passion for food and more especially for Chocolate.

The other day, I met an incredibly passionate ‘perfume’ guy, who was developing the best perfumes you would have never smelled before, in his garage in Brussels .

What do you do in your free time, and how do you manage to make time for it?

After having been in corporation for 30 years moving to Independent is a challenge! I want to be outside all the time but so much to do ……..I spend time with my 2 kids (or they do with me as they become older😊) and party with my friends.

I walk a lot, bike a lot , play golf and travel when I can to discover new things.

What is next for you…your next big project?

I have seven sessions to organise from now till end October. 3 very exciting confidential consulting missions in the chocolate business and I am preparing the whole schedule for 2020 with new, exciting modules.

How can my readers contact you, find your work?

The best way is to visit our website: or contact me at


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