I met last week with Neil Jarvis, International Director of Quality and Industrial Operations and Ethical Trade of The Body Shop. Neil’s responsibilities include making sure all of the community trade suppliers and partnerships in developing countries around the world manage to deliver product that meet the exacting standards of the organisation. It involves a high degree of reactivity, people skills and understanding, and of course international travel. I caught up with Neil in the Sussex headquarters to find out how the organisation is growing its commitment to community trade, and how it’s doing since the acquisition by cosmetics giant L’Oreal. Read More
Category Archives: Podcasts
Award winning founder of Choc Chick Galia Orme talks about her journey from chocaholic to successful entrepreneur and founder of a raw chocolate brand, her commitment to supporting farmers collectives in Ecuador and her ambitions to make cacao a staple in everyone’s cupboard.
When did your fascination with chocolate begin?
My fascination with chocolate started as a young girl when my Argentinian mother used to make chocolate for the whole family at home. It was a time of enjoying the sweet treats my mother produced but I also remember that it was quite hard work to temper and produce the chocolate properly. Years later as a confirmed chocaholic, I just started making chocolate from raw cacao at home for my own family – primarily as a way to reduce my own spending on chocolate treats! One key surprising by-product of making family treats turned out to be an unexpected weight loss, clearer skin and more energy, which set me on a mission to share what I had discovered for myself, with a wider audience.
Was it a hobby or a business from day one?
Definitely a business; I set myself a target of a year to create a sustainable business. I started selling ChocChick online in plain and simple packaging. Attending major chocolate trade shows, I got a break early on – meeting the chief chocolate buyer for John Lewis Parntership – although it took a year of constant calls leaving educational and amusing messages for him before one day we connected in person. Because he took me under his wing, the brand then started to develop into a shelf-ready consumer brand with stylish packaging and messaging – proving the value of gaining the support and mentorship a key national buyer can offer.
Today, ChocChick is stocked in John Lewis stores nationwide, Holland & Barrett and many independent farm shops and delicatessens.
What’s the most satisfying aspect of your business?
There’s another aspect to ChocChick which is sustainability. I source all my raw cacao in Ecuador (apparently the best tasting beans for chocolate) through farmers collectives where my business is a key support to independent farmers who are trying to keep their agriculture biodynamic and out of the hands of major palm oil plantations. By creating employment and income for many families in different regions, ChocChick is contributing to sustainable agriculture in a part of the world where precious soil is under constant threat from intensive agricultural practices. Visiting our farmers this year and being able to see that they are able to fund University education for their children – in part due to the sustainable commercial income they receive from us – is very satisfying.
Any recommendations on investment for startups?
I recommend thinking carefully about the balance between the personal support you can gain from an investor who takes a deep interest in your purpose and mission, can help you with personal contacts, is committed to your success – and the amount of equity you ‘give away’. Although I feel I may have given more of my business away than standard startup advisers might recommend, I believes the constant support of my investor and business partner has been critical in my sustained growth and success. Investment is a dark art; how do you value a startup? It’s really only about its potential for growth.
What’s next for ChocChick?
In 2017, the ChocChick business is set to expand with a new range of products, has a focus to promote the use of cacao butter to fry and cook with, and new content which encourages more people to use cacao as a staple in food production.
If you would like to get in touch with Galia at ChocChick, here are all the details:-
Website: Choc Chick
Facebook: Choc Chick
Sharon Lawlor Jackson, founder of the European Sustainability Academy is one of those remarkable people who genuinely walks her talk. Walking out on a highly successful career in the electronics industry in 1999, she has spent 15 years creating executive sustainability experiences all around the world to act as a catalyst for change at the highest levels. Now based on the beautiful island of Crete, she shared her rich experiences and insights into the successes and failures of the sustainability agenda, the challenges of organisational change, what she has learned from nature and why she believes organisational adaptability is key for future leaders, entrepreneurs and communities alike. Read More
There are so many ways we can give to ‘deserving causes’. A click of the mouse and money can be winging its way across the world; a cheque from a large corporation is still prized. But Paul Dunn, founder of B1G1, believes that giving impacts is a more sustainable model for future giving, primarily because pure donations offer so little long term engagement with the end result. He also believes that giving has to be made even easier, especially for SMEs who may not be able to afford the high ticket cheque donations of larger corporations. In this Connected Conversation, he shares why giving impacts works, along with the story of how this highly successful social enterprise got off the ground and how they overcame some of the challenges they faced. Read More
It’s difficult to over-estimate the importance of your start in life in how you thrive in the long term. More and more research shows us that early years learning and experiences shape our lives. June O’Sullivan, MBE and CEO of London Early Years Foundation has made it her lifetime legacy to try to improve that early experience for many children in the most deprived communities in London with the worst start. Her mission: to try to even out the life chances of those who are unlucky enough to be born without the best of starts. In this candid interview about her hopes she shares how inspired she has been by the Victorian philanthropists, how she created a model of community inclusion and what government and business need to do next for families. Read More
There’s a surprise round every corner in life. Last week I was listening to global brands talk about the future challenges of sustainability with an outside chance of becoming purpose-led. Today I heard the story of an entrepreneur who has been running an entirely purpose-led business for 10 years. Meet Hattie Hasan of Stopcocks: an energetic crusader for the right of people everywhere to have clean water. And a woman plumber.
You might think choosing to be a plumber and cracking the male dominated trade a big enough challenge for one lifetime. But underlying the decision to train to become a plumber lies a lifelong relationship with water. This is Hattie’s story. Read More