Nobody can anticipate when a life change will occur. While many people travel a fairly easy-to-anticipate path, others take complete detours that change their lives. Shawn Askinosie, founder of Askinosie Chocolate, for example, was a criminal defence lawyer with a hobby for baking just five years ago. He certainly didn’t anticipate melding his law career with a chocolate making factory.
Shawn Askinosie originally graduated from college with a degree in political science. Fully intending to start law school, Shawn began applying to universities, with eleven schools ultimately rejecting his application. Thinking he was giving up his dream of being a lawyer, Askinosie moved to Texas to become a real estate tycoon, focusing on commercial properties. He met his wife Caron and she encouraged him to pursue his previous goals and take one last shot at entering law school. In 1986, Shawn Askinosie began class at the University of Missouri law school. Despite the fact that Shawn squeaked in by the skin of his teeth, he graduated with honours and began practicing in Texas. After a short stint in this law firm, he returned to Missouri with his wife Caron and began his own law practice.
Shawn Askinosie spent several decades successfully practicing law. He focused on criminal defence, starting with moderately serious felony cases. As his career progressed, he gained fame and notoriety in the field and was even featured on several television documentaries with high profile criminal cases. Shawn has had clients and their cases appear on Dateline, Inside Edition and several other television series. In all cases, the clients featured were acquitted.
The entire time that Shawn’s career was heating up, Caron supported and encouraged his success. The couple have deep religious roots and a strong belief in God, which helped them make it through some hard times. Because Askinosie was a well-known lawyer who often worked high profile cases, media attention was sometimes overwhelming. In addition, the couple received death threats and dealt with a great deal of stress and pressure through this time. There were victories as well, however. In 2000, Shawn Askinosie helped found a grief counselling centre for youth called Lost & Found. The Ozark regional centre helps children who have experienced death and loss. This project was particularly important to Shawn, who lost his own father at the tender age of 14. He maintains involvement in this charity to this day.
When Askinosie first began playing around with baking, he had no idea that this diversion would turn into his new career. In fact, his foray didn’t even include chocolate. It was, actually, an apple pie. This apple pie recipe, given to him by a defendant’s mom, was baked in a brown bag. Intrigued, Shawn copied the recipe while they waited for the verdict to be read and later gave it a try. From pies, Shawn Askinosie quickly moved to cupcakes, spending a good deal of time playing and perfecting recipes. At one time, he seriously considered pursuing cupcakes as a career. In the end, however, the fascination with making raw chocolate won the day.
Shawn began his journey with chocolate by studying the website www.chocolatealchemy.com. His law background was decidedly weak in actual science. However, the logic and careful processes that had supported his law career helped him to decode the magic behind chocolate making. Shawn originally processed all beans in his own home kitchen. Caron, however, soon became weary of the “war zone” that was in competition for family dinner time. Shawn moved his mini chocolate factory to his law office, officially melding his two ventures.
By 2005, Shawn was officially pursuing his career as a chocolatier and had founded Askinosie Chocolate. Many of his law colleagues thought he was downright crazy to trade a lucrative salary for this dream. However, working with his wife and son-in-law was appealing to the family-minded man, and leaving the high pressure life behind made sense.
Today, Shawn works closely with his growers, knowing all his suppliers by name. He regularly visits both Mexico and South America, often taking students from Chocolate University, an educational program founded in partnership with Drury University, a local religious college. Shawn promotes a social conscience in his chocolate production, focusing mainly on dark chocolate. He also makes a white chocolate bar that incorporates goat milk.
Askinosie is still a licensed attorney. He occasionally dons his suit and tie, which he keeps in the Springfield, Missouri factory, to argue a case with his law partner.
You can connect with Shawn on Linkedin.
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