The Highland IFBWs 2013 Woman of Achievement, Jen Libbra, is no stranger to accomplishments.
Libbra, a 2001 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in restaurant and hotel management, worked as an assistant manager for Les Bourgeois Vineyards in Rocheport, Mo., while completing her degree. She continued her career in the restaurant industry, working as an assistant general manager at Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood, Mo., and at J. Bucks in Fairview Heights.
But owning her own restaurant was always a goal, and on Oct. 31, 2007, she purchased The Chocolate Affair, a gourmet candy shop and a three-room bed and breakfast in Highland.
Since buying the business, she has crafted The Chocolate Affair in her own image. She has redecorated all of the bedrooms in the bed and breakfast adding her own unique touches, many of which were handmade by Jen herself.
She also makes her own candy, whereas the previous owner purchased most of it, and has added many new creative products to the candy line. In addition, she has secured a wholesale account with Robust Wine Bar to expand her business.
Libbra has also reached out to local artisans to offer them an opportunity to sell their various hand-crafted gift items in her shop. In addition to all the sweet treats available, the business also offers crafts, jewelry, textiles, pottery and more.
Libbra said of all her achievements, the expansion of her business is the one shes most proud of.
Growing as a business as much as I have, Libbra said. Expanding the services that I offer and expanding the candy that I offer. Expanding the holiday business as much as I have. Just taking the same concept but growing it.
Outside of her business, Libbra also volunteers her time for various causes. She conducts candy-making classes for various Girl Scout troops, where they earn a Sweet Shop badge. She has given presentations at the middle school and high school for both Highland and Triad, presenting programs that teachers have worked into their curriculum; plus, each year she works with a special education class at Triad High School.
She has also donated gifts and time to local fundraisers like the Relevant Pregnancy Options Center Banquet and the Lory Theatres Kickstarter campaign. A member of the Highland Chamber of Commerce, she also supports the Farmers Market as a consistent vendor.
Theyre always very charitable causes, Libbra said. A lot of times people ask me to do things with kids, so thats always fun. Theyre always really excited, so that makes it an easy job to do. And the fact that Highland has so much to do makes it easy to participate in things. Theres a lot of things to take part in.
Libbra became a member of the Highland BPW in 2008 and has since served as the club secretary, vice president and recently as president for the 2011-12 year. She has also been a chair or co-chair for many of the clubs events over the years.
Jen is admired and respected, not only by IFBW members, but by others in the community, nominator Paula Redman said. She is enthusiastic, kind, caring, positive, and always willing to help others. Her achievements are many, both personally and professionally she is definitely a Woman of Achievement, a.k.a., Wonder Woman!
Libbra said she was shocked when she found out she won the award and thanked her friends and family for helping her out in all her endeavors.
I was surprised and flattered, Libbra said. Theres a lot of good members in the group, so I was flattered that I was nominated and chosen.