How many of you dream of setting up a chocolate business?
My chocolate business in the early days was very different from now. I began Amelia Rope Chocolate very much as a bespoke chocolate business. All the handmade chocolate truffles and unique crystalilised chocolate dipped flora were made to order.
Did I see myself setting up a chocolate business? The simple answer is no I didnt!
I found myself creating Amelia Rope Chocolate really by chance back in 2007. I had always loved cooking, eating bounteous amounts of chocolate and designing. I watched the gorgeous Juliette Binoche and divine Jonny Depp in ‘Chocolat’ many many times and ……… well my chocolate business is very different from the movie but I am in the world of chocolate.
Here is a snippet of my early days …..
The chocolate business was set up in the reverse of how you should set up a business. A product with minimal shelf life and zero scalability and not a business plan in site! Not something I would recommend at all.
Inspired by a good friend who was involved in the world of Conde Nast, I decided to do a drop off to all of the top London Food Editors at that time. I thought if Rachel, who has very high standards, has given them amazing praise I must take heed of her advice and see if the Food Editors would give them the thumbs up too.
I stayed up until 2am (making numerous samples), took the day off from my ‘proper job’ as Practice Manager, loaded up my car and went for it. My hope was to get one mention in 6 months. They seemed to hit the spot and were immediately featured in The Telegraph’s Stella magazine and from there were in almost every national paper, seriously amazing magazines and Dragons Den even approached me to appear on their show. They made it onto Paul O Grady’s chat show and Vanessa Feltz’s radio programme. They had the ‘it’ / grab factor.
With forward momentum I decided to go for it and set up Amelia Rope Chocolate.
A basic website was created (I had no need for ecommerce as it was all bespoke) and my family, much enthused by the response, very kindly put some cash in. I fitted out a space in Borough to be my chocolate kitchen. Air con in, special paint on the walls and a seriously slick truffle fridge unit which set me back £7,000 (9 years ago!).
First learning curve ….. overheads. The space was incredible, I was all ready to go but then realised I had no means of getting the product effectively to market. The petals were so fragile they would need incredible packaging to make sure they arrived in one piece.
Second learning curve….. scalabilty. They took so long to produce – each one being its own work of art.
I was extremely fortunate and with a wonderful mention in ‘Brides’ ‘fit enough for Marie Antoinette’s table’ I landed my first major bespoke client. This was fantastic but there was a limit on how much I could produce.
I went on to develop mint leaves, pansies and violas. They were stunning, even if I say it myself.
The key turning point in my business came in November 2009 with a commission for chocolate bars. More on my next blog!