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