How one woman found her passion and uses it to bring happiness to others
When you walk through the front door of Robin Chocolates, an indulgent experience awaits you. The gently embracing aroma of chocolate. The beautiful chocolates on display. The mouth-watering samples set out for the taking. You find yourself wanting to linger in the store—especially in that indulgent feeling—even if you’ve never been interested in fine chocolate before. When Robin, the woman behind it all, confidently enters the bright storefront, you would never guess that her unconventional journey to chocolatier has been one of many twists and turns.
Hailing from a line of strong women that included her mother and maternal grandmother, Robin Autorino’s journey began while attending college on a music and theater scholarship. Due to a merger with another university, her program was cut, so she moved to New York City with the aspiration of becoming an actress. That aspiration, along with others in the upcoming years, was left unrealized. She was left wanting something different, different from her previous experiences and from the paths her friends were taking. “I eventually got tired of my lifestyle,” says Robin, “so I decided to join the Navy. I was going to see the world.”
In the Navy, she was placed in the electronics field with a focus on heavy earth terminal satellites. It was an area foreign to her and a far cry from her desire to work as a Naval journalist. “I was a female in a man’s world, but I wasn’t going to view myself as a victim because of it; it made me work a lot harder.” During her time of service, she also became a single mother, and while she continued proudly serving until her son was a teenager, she ultimately chose to leave the Navy rather than pursue her original goal of becoming an officer.
Post-Navy, she found work in the IT field, which eventually led her to Colorado. And while her job provided financial stability, she realized it did not satisfy on a personal level. Deciding to try something new aside from her day job, she attended a home cook program at a nearby culinary school. Because of the enjoyment it brought, she then explored the idea of applying for the school’s professional program. Something clicked within her. “I was looking for something to be passionate about,” says Robin, “and going to culinary school was that thing.”
At an age when most were pursuing job security with an eye toward retirement, Robin instead walked away from her stable job to begin a completely new endeavor. Fortunately for her, she was no stranger to ignoring societal expectations. She had learned to do just that, as well as how to work hard and with determination, from her mother and maternal grandmother. Her mother, a geriatric nurse and director of nurses in nursing homes, had also been an Ironman triathlete. “She wasn’t a natural athlete,” Robin says, “but she was determined, very hard working, and an incredible woman.” Her grandmother also displayed strength and generosity her entire life despite being blind from birth. “I just adored her. And the way she cared for people—she would give the shirt off her back to help somebody less fortunate,” Robin fondly remembers.
Following the strong example set by both women, Robin took the risk and embraced the hard work of attending culinary school and then completing an internship at a pastry shop in France. She eventually came to the conclusion that she wanted to specialize in chocolate and in 2008, her journey culminated in the opening of Robin Chocolates in Longmont. While she knows her shop could fare well in the nearby city of Denver, she proudly states, “I like being Longmont’s chocolate shop,” and adds, “I like Longmont. I like living here and like the people here.”
Over the past ten years, Robin has continued studying with some of the top chocolatiers in North America and Europe, and has built in Longmont an award-winning business. However, when talking to her it’s clear that it's not just about excelling at chocolate-making for its own sake. Rather, it is ultimately about the people she serves. “If I make a chocolate that I love and nobody else likes it, what’s the point? My goal is to make others happy.” And now, after the many twists and turns of her life journey, she is doing just that—making fine chocolates and providing the feelings of happiness and yes, indulgence, to the people of Longmont and beyond.
One group of people Robin particularly values is the senior community. As a result of observing her mother enrich the lives of her nursing home residents and the fierce love she continued having for her mother and grandmother as they aged, she learned that seniors were worth investing in for the entirety of their lives. Because of this, Robin is partnering with us to bring happiness to our senior neighbors by delivering her chocolates to seniors already receiving grocery delivery through our Carry-Out Caravan program. She looks forward to bringing a sense of indulgence to the everyday lives of our community’s seniors, earnestly stating, “There shouldn’t have to be a reason to help seniors, it should just be something we do.”
Help seniors flourish by reconnecting them—as recipients and contributors—with their surrounding communities.