Dominican Sisters Janett and Erika Liriano Have Gone Back to Their Roots to Create INARU, an Ethical Chocolate Brand
Dominican sisters Janett and Erika Liriano have created an ethical chocolate brand with INARU. Born in Queens to Dominican parents, Janett and Erika decided to return to the motherland in order to truly bridge the gap between farm and table. Or, when it comes to chocolate, from seed to bar.
Although both sisters studied performing arts at the Fame School in Manhattan, their careers ultimately involved raising funds for start-ups. That is, of course, until they came up with INARU.
However, much is lost when exporting cocoa from places like the Caribbean to better-known chocolatier countries like Belgium. And not only in terms of quality, freshness, and taste but ethically, often negatively impacting the lives of hard-working farmers.
This is precisely the injustice that Janett and Erika sought to rectify.
For Janett and Erika, it was personal
“Growing up as the daughters of Dominican immigrants gave us a more global view on how and why things happened and who they affect,” Erika shared. “We believe that for something to be truly high quality, the ethical impact is non-negotiable.”
The sisters’ father was in the cocoa business himself. “My father retired to his cocoa farm about ten years ago,” Janett told us. Their father’s farming expertise and the sisters’ entrepreneurial acumen made for a promising partnership that could finally showcase the Dominican Republic’s untapped potential.
“There is an idea in much of Latin America that the land of opportunity is the US alone,” Janett began. “Meanwhile, our home countries have so much natural abundance, and the people are full of ambition and drive.”
They seized the opportunity to create an ethical business, and so INARU was born
The sisters spent some time in the DR to understand the issues plaguing the cocoa supply chain. Primarily, they wanted to know why farmers and producers, like their father, were being underpaid and undervalued.
“I’m motivated by the idea that doing good is not that difficult,” Janett reflected. “It simply takes courage, creativity, and commitment.” They came up with an unprecedented vertical system that prides itself on fair, dignified living for its workers.
“We partner and profit share directly with farmers,” Janett told us. “We process the cacao here in the country, creating jobs and economic opportunity.” So, when they say they know exactly what farm and farmer a batch of chocolate is coming from— they really mean it.
INARU is leading a revolution
The company is setting the standard for ethical and compassionate businesses. INARU is the only exporter of its kind owned by women of color who profit share with their farmers. This practice is “unheard of in the Dominican Republic and most cocoa-producing countries.”
But that’s not all. They’re literally sharing the wealth with other women, revolutionizing gender equality in the field. After conducting research, the sisters discovered that women are much more receptive to new techniques, which is essential to growth.
Moreover, both sisters are already monumental successes. Janett was one of 30 under 30 on the Forbes list in 2019. She was also the only woman of color to raise more than $1 million in venture capital twice. According to BBC, Erika was listed as one of the 100 women who changed the world in 2022.
The sisters’ main goal is to spread joy, compassion, and equality via their stellar product. “Chocolate is iconic and universal,” Jannett shared. “It would be great for people to choose INARU as that act of self-love.” She gushed. “And I would love for the world to be aware that INARU’s goodness is the result of empathy and intention at every level.”