“Life is all about the leisure and happiness we find in food, art, and beauty.”
Maribel Lieberman, Chocolatier
Gosh, this sounds like an amazing way to live, doesn’t it? Leisure and happiness are challenging words for so many of us who feel tied to the grind of everyday life. But Maribel Lieberman of Mariebelle New York shows us the way to her simple truth – through food, art, and beauty.
Photo credit: News Whistle
As founder of Mariebelle New York, a luxury chocolate shop in the fashionable SoHo district, Maribel has reinvented the very definition of chocolate with her philosophy of life. Maribel is the inspired doyenne whose creativity and expertise with chocolātl (Aztec word for chocolate) are the very essence of art and beauty.
Opening the door and stepping inside Maribel’s venerable New York boutique means one thing: the enticing assault of rich chocolate aromas. You’ll experience a kind of delirium that might find you wandering around the store in circles, unsure where to begin.
A chocolate spell is cast under the store’s giant crystal chandeliers. They dazzle in adjacent oversized gold-gilded mirrors and keep tempo with the dizzying array of products, all layered at varying heights along the light Tiffany-blue colored walls.
There’s everything you could wish for, to take a cue from Willie Wonka, in this rapturous edible gallery of art. Except, in this case, everything inside and outside the glass cases in the shop looks like it belongs in Marie Antoinette’s boudoir. That’s because Maribel loves to present her food beautifully:
“The design is very artful. You are not just buying chocolate. You are buying art.”
The store’s French feel gives it an old-world style that Maribel combines with a new world design. In fact, when Maribel opened her successful buisiness in 2001, it did not have the range of lush handpainted chocolates, ganaches, and truffles, and bars of chocolate it has today.
Originally the SoHo store was a small store in the front area of the building; one that was formally an art gallery. When the back garden space became available, Maribel moved her sitting area into the back and now offers a special area that serves exclusively as a Cacao Bar for specialty, customized hot chocolate.
All of the decor in any of Maribel’s stores is done in artful scenes that accentuate her vision of leisure and happiness. Beautifully wrapped brown-ribboned boxes of hand-painted truffles and tins of Aztec, Mayan and other drinking and baking chocolates complete the specially curated look.
Photo of Dubai Mariebelle
Recently, Maribel has expanded her business to include a more casual-style Brooklyn Cacao Market as well as new Mariebelle stores in both Dubai and Kyoto, Japan. Her vision is consistent in every location, where she captures that special blend of art and beauty.
Over the years, Maribel’s success is a mixture of so many ingredients. As a young girl who started selling candies at just 8 years old in her native Honduras, Maribel moved to New York at 17 years of age to attend the prestigious Parsons School of Design. After flirting for five years with a career in fashion, she started an elegant catering company, Maribel’s Gourmet Cuisine where she learned to understand customer service.
Her first retail venture was actually a chocolate and eyeglasses store – an unusual combination that would keep me seeing chocolate all day. Maribel realized from this experience that she knew more about selling chocolate than she did eyeglasses so she took her $50,000 investment and moved it to the current SoHo location.
Focusing on the chocolate experience and infusing the business with her love of design, Maribel credits her success to a series of smart decisions, determination, a neighborhood of supportive clients and a loving family and marriage to her artist husband, Jacques Lieberman.
Maribel’s storybook creation might just be one of the most beautiful stores in New York. It’s an amazing escape for tourists and many visitors who appreciate her eye for artful details and beauty. Having experienced the stunning decor and enjoying a few meals at Mariebelle’s, it’s easy to see why Maribel continues to excel in the chocolate industry.
She is constantly introducing new and very imaginative products and packaging like the most recent history girls bars, and she understands people want more than a delicious preparation of cacao seeds.
Visit WomanScape tomorrow to see inside her SoHo store and to learn more about this trailblazing woman. She picks up where Mary See of See’s Candies left off: forging her own future and harnessing the transformative power of her story:
A little girl who loved sugar and wanted to make the world a more beautiful place with it.