Happy birthday Kokopelli’s Chocolate! My little business has turned one year old today, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s been both a quick year and a long year – having learned more than I could ever have anticipated, worked harder than I thought I could and having achieved more in just twelve months than I even dared dream.
The chocolate-making workshops have really taken off. I never set out to run them, but I just kept being asked if I would. And I kept saying yes! So I now run regular public workshops at The Make Lounge, I often run private ones for hen parties, birthdays, children’s parties, and I’m also booked in to run public workshops at three other organisations later in the year. I even ran a workshop at a primary school (it was one of my favourites, especially receiving a stack of handwritten, illustrated thank you cards in the post afterwards). And the most advertising I’ve done is just having a ‘workshops’ page on the website – all of these organisations and individuals wanting to learn how to make beautiful, delicious chocolates have approached me. Which is a pretty nice feeling.
I’ve learned how to scale up production (something which I’m still learning, as Kokopelli’s grows and needs to produce in ever larger quantities), which at first was a daunting, seemingly insurmountable prospect, but which I can now take in my stride. Our first Christmas was an especially huge learning curve.
We have exhibited at several market stalls, most notably, The Chocolate Festival on the Southbank Square (at Christmas and at Easter). We’ve taken bespoke corporate orders and donated boxes to charity. We’ve sold to a delightful and top notch chocolate shop. We’ve collaborated with a fantastic local restaurant on an Easter competition and done giveaways with a major chocolate review blog. We’ve had glittering reviews and some really good printed press, as well as food blogger coverage.
Not forgetting all the behind the scenes stuff, including working with our brilliant and dedicated designer on Kokopelli’s logo, packaging, menus and other materials; lots of website development; work on branding; photoshoots; video filming; and market research. I even sewed my own banner.
And the crux of it all – making gorgeous, delectable chocolates. From dreaming up flavour combinations to choosing mould shapes, from recipe testing (and re-testing) to learning how to paint with cocoa butter, from switching to using Valrhona couverture to choosing suppliers for the best ingredients, and beyond, this has been one of the best years of my life. There have been plenty of moments of frustration (when the ganache has split, or I’ve spilled almost half a kilo of hazelnut paste on the floor, or I’ve burnt a caramel, or the summer heat has prevented me from tempering properly… I could go on) – but it’s all been totally worth it. I’ve learned huge amounts and have had an absolute ball getting creative, tasting everything, and noticing how much my palate has changed.
Meeting new people has been another top highlight. Twitter has been at the heart of much of it – something I didn’t expect when I signed up. I’ve met a lot of fantastic people who have become customers and friends in real life (offline friends), many of whom have opened doors or helped me out in some way. I feel part of several different, but often overlapping communities who have been an inspiration and source of hope and support during this year of learning and exploring. I am enormously grateful to many people who have helped me come so far in just twelve months (I won’t list them all here – it seems like something for the back of a book, if I ever write one). It’s also been really satisfying and helpful to meet customers and hear their thoughts and feedback, and to watch their faces morph into smiles as they try my chocolates.
So what’s in the pipeline for this year? I’ve got lots on my ‘planning’ to-do list – including looking at having a permanent presence at a market in London, expanding Kokopelli’s product range and looking into hiring a dedicated workshop space. We’re growing, it’s hugely exciting, and I think it’s well worth watching this space.
I’m celebrating our first birthday by giving away a box of Kokopelli’s Chocolate to one lucky person. All you need to do to be in with a chance to win is leave a comment on this blog post with something you’d like to see from us in our second year. Entries close on Sat 20th April. The best answer will win a lovely box of fresh, handmade chocolates.