Sue Berliner sees herself as a "master of being a jack of all trades," because she moves from one sport to another. She also runs a successful magazine and recently became a chocolatier. The 53-year-old veteran bike racer, racquetball player, ultra-marathon runner and hiker says, "People know I'm kind of crazy."
Berliner moved to the Valley from St. Louis in 1983 and worked in the banking and mortgage industry for about seven years. Fueled by "two job nightmares" and a desire not to work for others, Berliner and a friend started SWEAT magazine in 1991 to fill a void for Arizona amateur athletes, fitness buffs and recreational sport fans who needed a place to get information about races, event results and news about the athletic and fitness community.
Without knowing much about publishing, Berliner says, she took the fledgling magazine from nothing to a circulation of about 50,000 per issue. She had been helping an athlete with his marketing and PR and had a "pretty good knack for that" and figured she could translate those skills to publishing. SWEAT is published nine to 10 times a year.
Before starting the magazine, Berliner was cycling 250 to 300 miles each week, which was very time-consuming. That's when she started running marathons. "It was just more time-efficient for me," she says.
Along the way, Berliner worked as a disc jockey on the weekends, doing private parties and weddings as well as a few regular gigs around Phoenix. Currently, she describes theater for the visually impaired through Arizona Theatre Company and has been a 25-year volunteer for Sun Sounds, a group that provides audio versions of printed information for blind and visually impaired persons. "I have a background in community theater," she says.
Berliner draws inspiration from her parents, who were "constantly in motion," and kept her very busy as a child. "I grew up at the JCC in St. Louis," she says. "I had acting, dance lessons three days a week, gymnastics, basketball and volleyball. I was there every day."
Berliner's latest venture is making chocolates and macaroons. In November 2011, she launched "b naked chocolates," a one-woman operation that makes chocolates and macaroons from pure, "naked" ingredients. "I use whole products," she says. The chocolates are made from organic, raw cacao, cashews, pure maple syrup and a variety of other nuts, spices and natural flavorings like vanilla bean and orange oil. The "Slow Burn" is made with cayenne and cinnamon for "a bit of a kick on the back end." "My flavors are crazy," she says.
The Naked Lady Macaroons, "like the ones you get on Passover, but way better," come in seven varieties and are made from coconut, maple syrup and coconut oil with a variety of add-ins including lemon zest, macadamia nuts and organic blueberries.
The chocolates and the macaroons aren't inexpensive, Berliner says, because she uses vanilla beans that retail at about $100 a pound and other expensive ingredients. "But you don't need to eat more than two of my chocolates, they're that satisfying - 55 calories, 2 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fat," she says.
You can find b naked chocolates on Saturdays at Scottsdale Old Town Farmers' Market; on Sundays at the Ahwatukee Farmers' Market; the Bodega, 7125 E. Fifth Ave., Scottsdale; Jam, 6938 E. First St., Scottsdale; ASU Market every other Tuesday; and various upcoming events, including Tempe Festival of the Arts and Glendale Glitters.