Heather K. Terry
Class of 2001
Founder of NibMor Chocolate
Actress, author, and speaker
Heather Kendzierski ’01 Terry is creative — any other label is just too small.
“I don’t ever think of myself as just the founder of NibMor,” she says. “When you pigeonhole yourself, you lose creative possibilities.”
That dedication to creation has steered her career academically and professionally, through roles from singer to CEO. She came to Valpo on a music scholarship, but in her first semester she was passed over in the auditions for the prestigious Chorale. That rejection came as quite a shock to a young woman who had spent years thinking of voice as her primary instrument.
Heather’s family encouraged her to look for another way to get involved on campus, and shortly afterward, she saw an advertisement for The Servant of Two Masters. The play’s auditions required students to perform a monologue, and although Heather had never done that before, she found a book of monologues and chose one that looked interesting. It entailed getting down on her hands and knees and barking like a dog. John Szostek, a Valpo alumnus and the play’s guest director, gave her one of the leading roles.
After that show, Heather was hooked on the theatre. She switched her major and held leading roles in productions throughout her college career. She eventually pursued an MFA in Acting at Rutgers University, one of the country’s most prestigious programs, and performed in New York for seven years.
Heather was acting on Broadway when her horizons opened yet again. She enjoyed cooking, and her castmates enjoyed the homemade chocolates she brought with her to rehearsals. When the show was nearing its close, those same castmates encouraged Heather to turn her creations into a business.
“If I had known what it entailed, I would have run,” she says. “I was naïve and young and I love to create, so I went with it.”
Since Heather co-founded NibMor in 2009, the company’s distribution has expanded to 4,000 stores, from Whole Foods and Amazon.com to the Valparaiso University bookstore. The organic, Fair Trade chocolate has also caught media attention from Oprah, The Wall Street Journal, the “Today Show”, and more.
Heather has put in plenty of hard work to launch the business, which she recounts in detail for her forthcoming book, “My Life in Chocolate: Cautionary Tales of an Unlikely Entrepreneur”. She also shares her insights as a public speaker and a blogger. In those outlets, Heather counsels other entrepreneurs never to discount the lessons they learn in life, whether they are learned in an MBA program, backstage, or on Broadway.
“The foundation that was laid in the theatre department at Valpo is a solid ground that allows me to make creative life decisions wherever I end up,” Heather says. “I have seen that with every single person I graduated with.”