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Women in Business: Eva Poloskey’s 30 years of sweet success at Penticton’s Accent Chocolates

Poloskey and her husband built the business from the ground up after moving from Vancouver Island
Eva Poloskey of Accent Chocolate holds one of her custom made Valentine hearts, a favourite of hers and many customers. (Brennan Phillips)

Included in the Wednesday, May 3 print edition is our Women in Business magazine where we highlight South Okanagan women who are making a difference in the community and in the business world. Below is a profile of Eva Poloskey, who is featured in the magazine.

For close to 30 years, Eva Poloskey has been making sweet success out of Accent Chocolates in Penticton.

She and her husband Les built the business from the ground up after they moved to the region from Vancouver Island. Getting into the business of making chocolate wasn’t even planned.

“I was a hairstylist, three years of school doing everything top to bottom, because in Europe it’s a different ball game,” said Poloskey.

Only three years into their marriage, the couple left Hungary during the Cold War, and moved to Canada. First living in Calgary before a visit to Vancouver Island changed things.

“My mother was visiting and one of our friends had a little garden restaurant,” said Poloskey. “He says ‘Don’t you guys want to buy this little chocolate shop?’ and I said no, but we looked at it and he said he could talk to the owner because he wanted to sell.”

At the time, Poloskey was running her own salon in Calgary and Les was busy working as a photographer. They figured that if the original owner was willing to wholesale the chocolate, they’d be willing to run the shop, which would take them away from the freezing winters in the Prairies. That plan didn’t last long.

“We didn’t have a clue, and then we had to learn in a hurry,” said Poloskey.

The couple learned from a professional chocolatier from Nanaimo, starting at 7 a.m. and working and learning all day until midnight.

They ran a chocolate shop on Vancouver Island for five years but then decided they wanted off the island.

They came back to the Okanagan where they used to holiday and there they decided to settle in Penticton and open Accent Chocolates.

Accent Chocolates initially opened up across the street from their current location, on the corner of Main Street and White Avenue, but it was only a couple years in and they had to move to a larger location.

“We slept a little every day because we were working up front, doing the chocolate after closing and then came over here to renovate.”

Eva’s favourite part of the business is doing the chocolate decoration, particularly the piping work.

“I look at it as a challenge, and there is no thing I cannot do if I set my mind to something,” said Poloskey. “It’s a challenge and you do whatever you want with your imagination. Then people come in and look and ask where is the template. There is none.

“Just like an artist, you draw or paint or do whatever your heart desires, there is no limit, you know?”

Through all of the ups and downs in the business, Accent Chocolates has created a loyal customer base that stretches from as far as Dubai and all over Europe to locals who come nearly everyday for her special coffees.

“When COVID hit, there were no people in town, I wondered what the hell are we gonna do. But then I figured that “Okay, you fall, you get up, keep going and you always do 120 per cent and do the best. You have to be very positive in life, because if I screw up I don’t blame you or God or whatever, I screwed up. You have to bear yourself out.”

One of the other most popular pieces, both for Eva and among her customers, are the the chocolate heart boxes and large Easter eggs she makes by hand. Every year she takes the time to decorate the hearts for Valentines to have them ready to be filled with other chocolates or engagement rings and other surprises.

Just make sure to check inside first.

“One time, a man came in and bought one for his girlfriend and put a ring in it,” Poloskey said. “She got the box, looked at it and gave it to her friend,” she said. She isn’t sure how that relationship went.

Making chocolates by hand is a tough business and they are often doing the work of four people. Even through all that, she has her ways of finding her moments of zen.

“I go to the back and scream,” Poloskey said with a laugh. Her humour is what many of her regulars come for. That and her lattes and speciality hot chocolates that are topped with chocolate whipped cream.

“I try to have the weekends. I like to read, I like to do crossword puzzles, I try to shut off.

“I have a motorbike, 500 Ninja — not a big deal, I wanted a bigger one — I like to go for a ride because then it’s just me. I don’t have to think of anything except the idiots around me.”

READ MORE: Women in Business: Former leader at Penticton’s Barley Mill reflects on 13 years of memories

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Brennan Phillips

About the Author: Brennan Phillips

Brennan was raised in the Okanagan and is thankful every day that he gets to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in Canada.
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