The Chocolate Manor

Crafting Success: The Chocolate Manor's Sweet Journey

Author Avatar

Updated on March 20, 2024

View transcript

Did you know that The Chocolate Manor, a small artisan business in Northern Ireland, has seen an impressive 50% increase in turnover in the last year alone?

The founder, Jerry Martin, turned her passion into profit from her home kitchen and has been crafting a sweet success ever since.

This story isn’t just about chocolate; it’s about navigating the tricky world of entrepreneurship, standing out in a competitive market, and innovating in ways you’d never expect.

So, how did she do it? Why not stay a while longer and find out?

The Chocolate Manor’s Early Stages

httpss://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N39oF-A58xU

Finding her inspiration amidst the chaos of maternity leave, Jerry Martin embarked on a sweet journey, transforming her passion project in a home kitchen into the thriving enterprise known today as The Chocolate Manor. Her creative beginnings were marked by a fervor for chocolate artistry, coupled with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

With no business plan or background, Jerry’s leap of faith was fraught with challenges. Yet, she stood firm, her resolve fueled by a vision of business expansion. Balancing creativity with business acumen, Jerry transitioned from her home kitchen to a dedicated production unit, gradually evolving her passion project into a well-planned venture.

This early phase of The Chocolate Manor’s journey is a testament to Jerry’s resilience and unwavering dedication.

Growth Through Support and Mentorship

The Chocolate Mantor

As The Chocolate Manor began to take shape, Jerry soon realized the importance of external support and mentorship in facilitating her business’s growth. She sought business mentorship, which proved instrumental in navigating the complexities of a nascent venture. Her mentors provided guidance, helping her to not only tackle immediate challenges but also to plan strategically for the future.

This mentorship, paired with wider entrepreneurial support, allowed Jerry to confidently transition from a passion project to a full-time business commitment. Invest NI and the Causeway Coast and Glens Council provided invaluable support, enabling her to expand operations, hire additional staff, and increase production. Jerry’s experience underscores the vital role of mentorship and support in the successful growth of The Chocolate Manor.

Innovation in Chocolate Product Development

The Chocolate Mantor

While growing her business, Jerry also turned her creative energy towards product development, introducing a line of bespoke and personalized chocolate offerings that set The Chocolate Manor apart. This creative move not only responded to market needs, but also added a unique touch that consumers appreciated.

Jerry’s ingenious approach to product development extended beyond the chocolate itself, with creative packaging playing a significant role. Each personalized treat was thoughtfully packaged, enhancing the overall customer experience and setting a new standard in the industry.

Jerry’s innovation didn’t stop there. She continued to expand her line, constantly infusing creativity into her products, from the design phase to the final packaging. This forward-thinking approach has undoubtedly contributed to The Chocolate Manor’s success.

Overcoming Chocolate Making Challenges

Navigating the intricate process of chocolate making, Jerry faced numerous challenges that demanded patience, meticulous attention to detail, and a deep understanding of the temperamental nature of chocolate.

Maintaining consistency was an art, as each batch required the same level of care and precision. One crucial challenge was temperature control. Chocolate is sensitive to heat, and even minor fluctuations can affect its quality and texture. During hot weather spells, Jerry had to ensure the kitchen stayed cool enough, a tricky task that tested his adaptability.

Despite these hurdles, he remained committed to producing top-quality chocolates. His adaptability, combined with his passion and expertise, allowed him to overcome these challenges, ensuring The Chocolate Manor’s sweet success.

Supporting Artisan Producers: The Future

The Chocolate Mantor

In the rapidly evolving food industry, supporting artisan producers like The Chocolate Manor is more important than ever, paving the way for a future filled with quality, authenticity, and unique offerings that you can’t find anywhere else.

The Chocolate Manor’s future plans revolve around a workshop revival, focusing on educating consumers about the nuances of chocolate making. This educational approach not only fosters a deeper appreciation for artisan products but also nurtures a loyal consumer base.

Meanwhile, product expansion remains a key strategy. The Chocolate Manor continues to innovate, introducing new offerings that cater to their customers’ ever-evolving tastes while preserving the essence of artisan chocolate making.

This blend of education and innovation underlines the importance of supporting artisan producers in shaping the future of the food industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Were Some of the Initial Marketing Strategies Used by the Chocolate Manor to Gain Visibility in the Market?

Initially, The Chocolate Manor used social media’s influence to gain market visibility. They’d post engaging content about their products, which built a loyal following.

They also formed strategic partnerships with local businesses to showcase their chocolates. This boosted their brand’s exposure and attracted more customers.

Their marketing savvy, combined with a high-quality product, helped them carve out a niche in the market.

How Did Jerry Martin Juggle Her Responsibilities as a New Mother While Starting up the Chocolate Manor?

Balancing motherhood and startup challenges, Jerry Martin launched The Chocolate Manor. She’s juggled late-night feedings with early morning business meetings, proving it’s not easy, but possible.

She’s faced sleepless nights, both from a crying baby and a demanding business. But, she’s also experienced the joy of watching her child and her business grow.

It’s been tough, but Jerry’s determined that both her roles as a mother and entrepreneur will succeed.

How Has the Chocolate Manor Incorporated Sustainability Practices Into Their Business Operations?

The Chocolate Manor’s adopted green initiatives, including sustainable packaging, to lessen environmental impact. They’ve switched to biodegradable packaging, reducing plastic waste.

They’re also mindful of resources used in production, striving for efficiency. Their commitment to sustainability doesn’t stop there. They’re continually seeking ways to further their eco-friendly practices.

This dedicated approach shows The Chocolate Manor’s commitment to not only crafting delicious chocolates but also to preserving the environment.

Can You Share Some Interesting or Unusual Chocolate Flavor Combinations That the Chocolate Manor Has Experimented With?

The Chocolate Manor’s recipe innovation has led to some unconventional pairings success. They’ve experimented with unique flavor combinations like chili and chocolate, and even lavender and chocolate. These unusual pairings show the Manor’s commitment to pushing boundaries and continually surprising their customers.

It’s not just about the classic flavors, but also about exploring new, exciting taste experiences. This approach keeps their offerings fresh and interesting, attracting a wide range of chocolate lovers.

What Are Some of the Unique Challenges Faced by the Chocolate Manor in Sourcing Quality Raw Materials for Their Chocolate Production?

The Chocolate Manor’s faced unique challenges in sourcing raw materials of high quality. They’ve tackled issues like ensuring the chocolate’s sustainable sourcing, maintaining its rich, distinctive flavor, and securing consistent supply.

Additionally, they’ve grappled with the ethical implications, striving to use fair-trade chocolate. Despite these hurdles, they’ve remained committed to delivering premium, artisanal chocolates, underlying their dedication to quality over quantity.

Conclusion

Jerry Martin’s journey from home kitchen to The Chocolate Manor is an inspiring tale of passion turned successful business. Through mentorship, innovative product development and overcoming challenges, Jerry has shown that artisan producers can thrive.

As she continues to prioritize customer satisfaction and support local artisan producers, the future of The Chocolate Manor looks extremely sweet. Her story underlines the value of determination, creativity, and the power of a dream.

Video Transcript

Speaker 1 (00:07)
So good morning and welcome to amazing food and drink today. We’re delighted to have Jerry Martin, owner of the chocolate Manor, with us. Welcome to the show, Jerry.

Speaker 2 (00:16)
Morning column. How are you? Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1 (00:19)
We’re so pleased to have you. So, Jerry, tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

Speaker 2 (00:24)
Well, my background couldn’t have been much further from food. In reality, whenever I left university, I started a career in media, pr, events and marketing. And over the course of 17 years, I worked through the voluntary sector and then the public sector, mainly working on pr and events. And that’s what I was actually doing part time for a number of years whilst I started running the business as well.

Speaker 1 (00:51)
Bernice, what gave you the idea about the business and how to come about?

Speaker 2 (00:55)
Well, like all good things, it wasn’t really well planned. I was actually on maternity leave. I had just had my second child, my eldest was three, and whenever my youngest was four months, I decided that I would go and do something for myself. So I went and did a ten week chocolate skills course at Northwest Regional College. And before the ten weeks was up, I actually had the house approved by environmental health and we were started selling that Christmas. So I started in September, and by December of 2012, I was out doing market selling my own chocolates. I had a little inkling whenever I went to do the course that I wanted to try and see if this would give me enough skill and knowledge to be able to start a business. So there was a little inkling there, but it wasn’t particularly planned that that was exactly the route I was going to take.

Speaker 1 (01:55)
Unbelievable. And had you had any idea that you wanted to go out in your own, or was this something that had been festering for a while? I’m interested to find out what brought it about.

Speaker 2 (02:06)
Well, I suppose at that stage in my life, I was at a point where I had two small children. I had been working full time in the public sector in a role that was very demanding in terms of time and commitment. And I suppose in the back of my mind, it was probably more in relation to do with family. And thinking about maybe being self employed might allow me to have more time, which in actual fact, it doesn’t. You work longer hours and you work much more than you would ever do for anyone else. But I wanted to do something for myself as well. I was a very creative person. I probably would say that my former managers would say I’m not an easy person to manage because I’m quite headstrong and I know what I want to do. So probably from that point of view as well, moving out to be doing my own thing was something I wanted to explore and see how I did it. But being really honest with you column, I was very afraid in the beginning to say that I wanted this to be a business. I played it down a lot.

Speaker 2 (03:13)
I think we are all very afraid of failure. So, oh, this is just a hobby. This is just something I’m going to try. I’m going to have a go. This is going to be a hobby for me. And it took me a while to actually admit to myself and to others that this was something that I was really committed to as a business, and I wanted to make it my livelihood.

Speaker 1 (03:35)
Well, understandably, you’d given yourself a comfort blanket there. I think that’s pretty normal. And as you say, we don’t even like the idea of change. Never mind saying I’m starting a business because you’re setting yourself up for a fall, and I fully understand that. But you’re very entrepreneurial because it’s only people who are entrepreneurial who actually go about doing that, I have to say. So what were your challenges? So you started the business of the chocolate manner. What were the challenges you faced when you started?

Speaker 2 (04:02)
Well, I suppose one of the big challenges was that I didn’t make a plan. I didn’t have an idea of, I didn’t have a business background in any shape or form. I was very lucky to have the experience that I had in PR and in marketing. So I had a fair idea of how to promote the product. I also had the creativity. But the challenge was to really see how to be profitable, how to look at this as a business and not just something that I was having fun, being creative and making all these lovely little chocolates. So the challenge really that I found was not having those business skills and not having the plan. And whenever I actually, and as I said earlier, not admitting to myself, and once I did that, once I knew that it was something, I asked for help and it was getting that help to be able to really make a plan and look at what is this costing, what is the profit and how to actually make this a real business. And I think that’s the thing that was a turning point for me, was being honest with myself that this was something I was going to commit to and getting the help in terms of the business skills.

Speaker 2 (05:19)
I’ve read an amazing business book by Michael Gerber, the e myth, and it talks about the technician, it talks about the manager, and it talks about the entrepreneur. And I was very much the technician. For the first few years, I was the one who was really careful about how every single chocolate was made. And we still are. We’re very much about the artisan side of it. But I started to develop an entrepreneurial passion at that stage and that was really. I realised then that’s what I needed to have to make this more than a job, because essentially it’s a job if you’re just making and selling and that’s it. If you don’t have a plan and you don’t have a look towards the future, then it’s literally just a job you get up and do every day.

Speaker 1 (06:06)
Brilliant. I’ve actually read that very book. It’s a very good book indeed.

Speaker 2 (06:10)
Great. It was given to me by my brother, who could see what I was doing. He could see from the outside that I was working very hard and not really going anywhere. In fact, I think his words to me were, you’re a busy fool. And he was right. He’s very honest, my brother, and I really appreciated his honesty because it made me step back and it made me think about how much I loved it and the passion was there, but when you’re putting your own time and taking time away from family to do it, it has to have a purpose. And that book really did. I still think about it in many ways in terms of how I run the business.

Speaker 1 (06:51)
Siblings are great for being supportive and very honest, aren’t they?

Speaker 2 (06:55)
Very much so.

Speaker 1 (06:56)
So what help did you actually get? Did you get help from maybe the council or invest Ni? I’d be interested to hear about that, yeah.

Speaker 2 (07:04)
So over the years I’ve been very lucky to have some amazing support. I was probably in the right place at the right time with the council because they started up a business mentoring programme which actually ran across a number of council areas at the time and I had a mentor for an entire year and that really helped me transform the business. The very first day, the first thing that Ian, who was my mentor, did, sat down with me and said, okay, let’s learn how to price a know. And people don’t understand that you can start a business without knowing these things, but when you’re the technician, when you’ve the passion, that’s the bit that you focus on. So I had a full year’s mentoring through Pinesville and that was totally transformative in terms of helping me to see that really, it was all well and good, me making lots of lovely chocolates and actually I was very reactive back then. If someone said they wanted a chocolate cowboy boot, yes, you can have a chocolate cowboy boot. If you said you wanted something else, I would order the stuff and I would make it. And that mentoring really did give me a basis for the complete journey that we went on from that.

Speaker 2 (08:21)
Then I was advised by another fellow business owner to approach invest Ni for an innovation voucher because we were starting to do things that nobody else does. And whenever I had contacted council, they said, oh, yes, you need to have the official labels if you want to stock your products in other places. But there wasn’t anyone there at that point who would have been able to sit down with me and say, this is how you do it. And as I said, I don’t have a food background and to be honest, there would be very few food producers who could actually complete a full, proper nutritional label the way that it has to be done. And of course, I started a business in 2012 and in 2014, they changed all the food labelling regulations. So I was literally coming at this at a time where it was becoming so much more important. So I was very lucky to receive an innovation voucher from Invest Ni. And at that point, I worked with Caffrey and their team there and that took the business to another level in terms of having a product that was ready for the retail area as well.

Speaker 1 (09:30)
Brilliant. So it’s been great that you’ve had help from both Invest NI and indeed the council. Which council was it, incidentally?

Speaker 2 (09:36)
Causeway coast and Glens.

Speaker 1 (09:37)
Very good. Brilliant. And that’s actually good for maybe our viewers to know as well that there is help out there, because, like yourself, I started a business with no help and I did very similar things. I didn’t really know about pricing. I started a pizza business and I learned after the event, much like you, a technician, but the help that’s available now is brilliant. And it’s great to hear that you’d avail magic. So how has your business evolved over the last number of years, then, Jerry?

Speaker 2 (10:09)
If you’d said to me back in 2012 when I was here in the kitchen, that I would be fully self employed, that I would have two staff and I would have my very own premises in one of Northern Ireland’s most picturesque village locations on the coast, I would not have believed totally, you know, starting from the home kitchen with just myself making lots and lots and lots of chocolates and responding to lots and lots of inquiries, the business has completely transformed. It’s been an amazing journey to be on and you learn as you go along what more you’re able to do. So I have established the chocolate manor as one of the leading bespoke chocolate organisations and our companies in Northern Ireland, because we do very much work with our clients to deliver a product that they want. Through my mentoring and through the work that I did with Ian, I realised that we really needed to go into volume, that that was going to be one of the big areas for us. And not long after working with him, I got my first order and my first opportunity to work with the Hastings Hotels group.

Speaker 2 (11:21)
And from that one opportunity, then we were introduced, basically, to all of the hotels within the Hastings group. So we now supply all of those with bespoke chocolates. And being able to have that sort of regular work then allowed me to take a step back from my day job and to commit to the business full time. I did move out of the house in 2014 and I moved into a small production unit, which was basically completely for production. And I worked there on my own until last year. I took on my first member of staff, a casual member of staff, who was fantastic, and I just needed some help with production. And then in the summer of 2019, I became an investor and I client, where I was able to get support from them in terms of hiring more staff. So, unfortunately, Gloria, who was my casual, had to leave us due to family reasons last year. But I now have two staff members and we moved in January to a very exciting new premises on Main street in Castle Rock, where we have production room, we’ve our kitchen, we’ve got a packaging mean, we’ve gone from one room to five rooms.

Speaker 2 (12:43)
So where we’ve gone in terms of our location, but we’re actually now based in this wonderful village. We’ve got a space now for our workshops, which we didn’t have before. I always would have delivered workshops in other venues, maybe had to hire a hall or go to local hotels to actually have to deliver workshops. So we now have our own space for that. And thanks to the year that 2020 has been, I also became a chocolate shop and an artisan food emporium, because we couldn’t run our workshops, but we had this wonderful location, so we decided to. That great word that’s been a big word this year is pivot and adapt, and we decided that we would open as a shop. So on the 1 July, I opened a chocolate shop on Main street in Castleron. So it’s been quite a journey.

Speaker 1 (13:35)
Absolutely amazing. So when I asked that question about how the business is involved, it’s flipping. It’s gone bazookas. That’s amazing. That is brilliant. And how’s the shop gone?

Speaker 2 (13:46)
The shop has been amazing. Between you and me, I never wanted a shop. Everybody was like, oh, you’re moving into this fabulous place. Are you going to be a chocolate shop? I was like, no, we don’t want to be a chocolate shop. Some of the reasons why I didn’t want to be a chocolate shop have proven themselves simply because you’re tied in terms of the time, the big, huge commitment in terms of staff and time. Both of my staff are part time, we’re all mums and we all have children at primary school, so that was a big thing. But we realised, with the current situation that we had to do whatever it took to keep the business afloat. And so we had these premises and we had this space that was literally just sitting there and we hadn’t any plans for the actual space, which we’ve turned into a shop. So it has been incredible. We’ve had amazing support from the local area, we’ve had amazing support from people who have bought from us for years. We’ve had people travel from all across Northern Ireland just to come to Castle Rock to visit us in the shop.

Speaker 2 (14:58)
And we’re also supporting a range of other artisan food products as well, from taste causeway and the Anthrum glens, which is amazing for us to be able to help other producers who’ve really struggled this year, too. So, from a business point of view, it really has been such a positive experience and on a personal level, it’s been amazing just to see the people who have been so supportive and who are delighted to have somewhere to come. But it did mean having to create a range of new and different things to fill shelves at a very short turnaround. But the fact that we had to stay in late all throughout July in particular, just to keep remaking stock, there was stuff we couldn’t keep on the shelves. So the response has been fabulous.

Speaker 1 (15:42)
I love that complaint. That’s a brilliant complaint. But that’s been absolutely amazing again, that you’ve gone from bespoke to scaling up, denied maybe producing more standardised products to the shop, and you’re also helping other artisan producers, which is first class. Honestly, it’s been brilliant. Fair play. I’m very impressed, Jeremy. Very impressed indeed. Tell me this, the industry surely is competitive.

Speaker 2 (16:09)
How you find, I think, you know, when I thought about this question, yes, there is competition, but we are very much an artisan product, we are very much handcrafted, and northern Ireland does have a range of amazing chocolate ears and we don’t tend to compete with each other because we’re all so different. We have others, like Neary, Noggs, who are bean to bar, which is an incredible thing to be doing, to be bringing in the beans and starting from scratch. And we have others who are social enterprises and create award winning products. So, from my point of view, I always, from day one, wanted to do something that was unique, that was different, that you wouldn’t see anywhere else. And so, whilst it’s competitive in terms of people who want chocolate, we all do so many different things that there’s enough room for all of us and we are quite supportive of each other in terms of if there’s something that I can’t do, I will pass it on to others who can. Because I want people to support artisans, I want people to see what there is. We don’t ever see ourselves competing with the chocolate from the spa, or if that’s what you want, then that’s great, and we all buy it, including me.

Speaker 2 (17:34)
But we’re a different type of product.

Speaker 1 (17:39)
That’s good that there’s a support network there, too, and you’re able to pass on business and obviously, vice versa. Brilliant. So how do you see your products developing over time?

Speaker 2 (17:49)
Well, we’re very much looking at the bespoke, the personalised. We’ve done personalised chocolate now for a very long time, but we’re going to try and expand that more. And I think that certainly this year has shown us, in terms of what people want and about showing people how you feel, and if you can do that with chocolate, even better. So we’re very much looking at how can we expand that, and what else can we bring to that area of the market in terms of brand new products. We launched our chocolate postcards during lockdown this year, where it’s a postcard size bar of chocolate, but it has your message on it and it fits in a large letter box, so it can be posted through anyone’s door. And so that was something completely new for us, because before that, we were doing other bars and we were doing boxes and those sorts of things. So from my point of view, we’re really looking at that and also trying to encourage people to think about what can they do with chocolate at home. So we launched a chocolate making lollipop kit during the summer, and we’re going to try and expand that as well over the next few months.

Speaker 2 (19:03)
We have a few ideas for Halloween and for Christmas in terms of what you can be doing at home, because despite the fact that lockdown has been lifted, people are still spending a lot more time at home than they would be out. And so if we can help people to enjoy that time with their families, that’s what we’re going to try and do as well.

Speaker 1 (19:19)
Brilliant. That’s very innovative. I like the sound of those chocolate postcards. I might be talking to you after about those. That’s amazing. So tell me, when you’re thinking about chocolate, what makes the perfect chocolate? You tell me. Explain to me what it is.

Speaker 2 (19:35)
Well, to work with chocolate, you need to have patience, you need to have care and you need to pay attention. It’s a very challenging medium to work with, because there are more ways for it to go wrong than to go right. As I say, we handcraft everything. We are basically taking the chocolate and creating the product. Usually, and certainly until we had the shop, everything was made to order, so we knew that there was a person who was waiting for this item. And it is a challenging ingredient, because, as I say, there’s so many ways it can go wrong, and especially when you’re trying to do volume, but we still have to pay care and attention every single time we have a bowl of chocolate in front of us. The other thing is that obviously, we work with white chocolate, we work with milk chocolate. Over the summer, we’ve done more dark chocolate than we’ve ever done, because obviously a chocolate shop has to have dark chocolate, whereas before, with personalised chocolate, we didn’t use it very much. We also work with an amazing chocolate called gold, which is a butterscotch toffee caramel flavour. And we also work with the world’s fourth chocolate, which is called ruby, which is naturally pink and naturally fruity.

Speaker 2 (20:58)
And every single one of those chocolates has a different working temperature, it has a different method in terms of how it needs to be prepared in order to make it work, because you’re looking for shine, you’re looking for snap, you want to make sure that the chocolate doesn’t bloom. And so every single one of those has its own working temperatures. So it’s quite challenging whenever you’re under pressure and trying to make sure that you get the product out on time, that you follow it carefully. And whenever we’re not paying attention, that’s whenever we have problems. And then, of course, we have the weather. And the weather doesn’t help chocolate making at all, because one day in Northern Ireland, it’ll be absolutely roasting, another day it’ll be freezing. And we have to adjust how we work in terms of the temperature of our workshop. So there are times when we literally have to make it and get it straight into the fridge. And then there’s other times that we are watching the chocolate nearly setting because it’s so cold before we can even get it out of the bowl. So there’s a lot of factors that make it challenging and it’s messy.

Speaker 1 (22:10)
It’s so much more complicated than I ever thought. All I can do, I can visualise and smell as you’re telling me about those chocolates. I would absolutely murder a bar now. But that’s amazing. I didn’t realise how even the weather has an impact on what you do. Have you got temperature control or something? How do you adjust?

Speaker 2 (22:31)
So we basically have to take a read of the kitchen each day. And humidity is probably. The moisture in the air can be a huge issue for us because moisture and chocolate are basically enemies. And so that does cause us issues. For example, before we moved, we were in a small production kitchen with no natural light, no windows. And last summer, when we had a really hot spell in July, we were trying to make 15,000 chocolates for a client and my fridge broke. So I actually had to go and buy a new fridge that day, because you couldn’t leave the chocolate sitting out at all. Whereas normally, if the chocolate is prepared correctly and there’s little humidity and the kitchen is at the right temperature, your chocolate should actually be fine setting at room temperature to actually set. But every day is different. Even every day over this summer, it’s been different. Some days it’s been really cold, some days really warm. Some days you’ve got the fans on, some days you’re rushing to get the stuff into the fridge. You just have to adapt and change every single day.

Speaker 1 (23:41)
Absolutely, Matt. This is getting my eyes open. Magic. So tell me, you mentioned workshops there a couple of times. I think it just still can’t do it with the COVID restrictions. Have you thought of evolving it online or what’s your ideas?

Speaker 2 (23:56)
Yeah. So, during lockdown, I ran a couple of online workshops where I prepared kits. And then either people came and collected them, or we posted them out to people and then I would run the workshop with them via Zoom. It was challenging because, as I just explained, there’s so much can go wrong with it. It’s not a simple recipe. Where do this, do that, put it in the oven for 20 minutes and we should all get the same result. So we tried it and it may be something that we’ll look at again, but I find it very difficult because the workshops are not just about the technique. The workshops are a social experience. They are about having fun, about showing the person what it is that they’ve done right, or how to correct it if it goes wrong. And I find that quite challenging because people were saying to me, we work with temperatures, and the temperature of the chocolate is key in terms of whether it’s going to be correct whenever it resets or not. So people were telling them they’ve all got different microwaves. That’s the other thing. So I have a rough idea of the microwaves we have in our workshop about how strong they are and roughly how long you should put something in for.

Speaker 2 (25:08)
But people were putting chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds and it was coming out nearly burnt. And I was like, oh, you must have it. So the online doesn’t necessarily lend itself particularly well, but it might be something that we’ll have to look at. Again, we are looking at how can we run some sort of experience over Halloween and then the run up to Christmas safely? It is such a hands on medium, it’s messy. And as a social experience, it’s sharing resources. For example, whenever we ran our workshops before, particularly for adults, I would have got group one to make, like, milk and honeycomb, and group two would have made milk and orange, and group three would have made gold, and group four would have made ruby, and maybe group five. So everybody was making different things, and at the end of the night, then everybody would get to go away with all of the different flavours. And obviously that’s just not possible. And I’m not sure anybody wants everyone come in to just everyone go away with 20 of the same chocolate or those sorts of things. So we’re still trying to get our heads around it.

Speaker 2 (26:15)
And because we had the shop this summer, there just wasn’t enough headspace to really think about, how can we do this safely and how can we do this? Because we have the space. It’s just trying to figure out, how can we make this the most enjoyable experience for the customers? Because that’s what it’s all about. I don’t want people to come in and feel like it’s all clinical and that sort of thing. So hopefully we’ll have something coming up in the next month or two that we’re able to run, but it’s another thing. We just all have to try and get our heads around.

Speaker 1 (26:49)
Yeah, you have to go back to that fancy word for top dance and pivot again. So, as an artist and producer yourself, I want you to extol the virtues of being one. Why should I, as a consumer, go to you, as opposed to one of the larger outlets.

Speaker 2 (27:06)
Well, suppose the key thing is that it’s local. We are here. If you look, you’ve talked to me about my journey and the whole idea behind all of the artisans that I work with. I’m part of the TS Causeway network, which is so important in terms of showcasing artisans. We are the people who are there day and night. We are the people who have researched every single ingredient, or in many cases, for example, the likes of Reuter gold, actually grow the ingredients that go into the product. You can be sure with an artisan that what they’re telling you is what is in the product. And it’s about keeping the economy local. It’s about helping us to grow our businesses so that we can then employ people that we can then spend. If you look at my journey, going from the house to a small industrial estate in Korean, where I was renting off another business and then being able to now rent premises and actually bring something new to the area. Every artisan has their own plan, and every artisan has their own idea of what it is that they want to create and where they want to go.

Speaker 2 (28:17)
Most of us don’t ever want to be sold in Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s because that’s not where we see our products. What we want is to build an understanding of what it is to create this product locally. And so, okay, we can’t grow the cocoa beans. That’s not going to happen. We have enough trouble with the environment in making the chocolate. But when you get a bar of chocolate from us, you know that we have taken care and attention and time to create that. And it means so much. It’s supporting a local family, it’s supporting two other families in their livelihoods. And that’s right across all of the artisans. And I said earlier, when you run a business, you don’t pick and choose the hours you work. You work when the work is there. And so we work long and hard to try and bring these new and exciting and innovative products to you.

Speaker 1 (29:07)
Well, I think you’ve done a good job selling that. So on that basis, how do our viewers buy your products? Where can we get you?

Speaker 2 (29:15)
Well, you can visit us in Castle Rocknoi. We’re open certainly weekends in September and hopefully October as well. But always cheque our Facebook or Google and we’ll have our opening hours updated there as it changes during the winter. And we also have our website, which is thechocolatemanor.com. And on there you can order your own personalised postcards you can order personalised chocolates. We’ve been doing some unique and different things. We’ve got our kits on there as well, so the website is probably the best place to go to.

Speaker 1 (29:46)
Then I may well be on there very soon now. Lastly, Jerry, and this has been absolutely amazing. What’s the future for the chocolate manor and yourself?

Speaker 2 (29:57)
Well, I feel really positive about the business at the moment. If you’d asked me that same question in June, I definitely would not have been so positive. But we have had a great summer. We are so grateful to every single person who has ordered online or who has come to visit us in the shop. We have so many great ideas. We want to bring the workshops back. We want to really develop a chocolate visitor experience in Castle Rock, which is suitable for everybody in terms of whether it’s families, whether it’s schools, whether it’s community groups. Come and learn a bit more about your favourite treat and where it comes from and then how to make chocolate at home. And as I say, we’re coming up with new and different products now with the shop and for our online. So the future is really bright. People love chocolate and we want to continue to bring great chocolate to people, to delight and impress them as much as possible for as long as we possibly can.

Speaker 1 (30:55)
Well, I can’t wait to taste this chocolate bar, so I will definitely be on your website. And thank you very much indeed, Jay, for coming on the show and I’m sure our viewers will absolutely love this.

Speaker 2 (31:06)
Thank you for having me calm. I really appreciate it. It’s been lovely talking to you and.

Speaker 1 (31:09)
All the best for the future.

Share with our social media

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *