It's been a while since I've updated my blog. Things got busy! But I've taken a minute, out of what has so far been a crazy week, to write down a few of my thoughts.
In November 2019, when I opened the doors to La Chocolatrice Newcastle for the first time, I had no idea what the next 18 months had in store, and I couldn't have imagined the ways in which my tiny business would grow and change. The plan was simple, to run chocolate making workshops, hopefully enough so that I didn't have to do supply teaching to top up my income, and to make and sell a little chocolate too, but I didn't have a plan of what and how.
The first few months of La Choc were so much fun! Our workshops were pretty busy, the customers I taught workshops to were genuinely a dream, and I felt blessed to be having such a good time. Don't get me wrong, some of it was stressful. Running a business can be so challenging and I don't want to pretend that it's not, but I absolutely love running Chocolate Making Workshops and feel very lucky that my job is basically chatting to lovely people while making delicious handmade chocolates.
When the pandemic hit last March, I was one of the people who believed we were on a three week (albeit restricted) holiday. I spent the first two weeks sunbathing in my garden (thank goodness for nice weather), reading, cooking, going a little crazy at times, and playing a silly amount of Monopoly Deal. About two and a half weeks in, the realisation hit that this wasn't a short term thing, and I decided that I couldn't do no thing indefinitely - that's just not something that works for me.
So, when I was checking La Choc, to make sure that everything was okay, I grabbed a few bowls, a few essentials, and a big sack of chocolate, and started what became a huge chocolate production run. The first week I made enough chocolate to fill 20 treat boxes (60 bars and 20 bags of buttons). I popped them online without a clue as to how they'd sell and within 7 minutes, to my surprise, they'd sold out.
Over the next couple of months the volumes massively increased and chocolate making became my full time job. Each week I decided to create new and exciting bars of chocolate and each week I was absolutely overwhelmed when everything I'd managed to make (working full time and more that week) sold out within a couple of minutes every Friday night.
My mum started working with me full time too, wrapping and packing orders, and together we were absolutely blown away by the support we received during that time. It was so exciting to see our parcels of chocolate being sent out to all corners of the UK and heartwarming to write your lovely notes to send with them.
I soon realised that we wouldn't be able to maintain our current levels of chocolate production and run chocolate making workshops side by side in our small studio in Newcastle, once the world began to reopen. That's when I started to think about expanding our business and opening our Chocolate Factory in Coxhoe, Co. Durham, where we now regularly make over 300 bars per day (which still blows my mind to think about!)
There is loads more to the story and I am going to try and update this blog more regularly to share more of our journey with you. But for now, I'd just like to say how grateful I am to every single one of my customers for their continued support. We reopened for workshops a couple of weeks ago and the response has been fantastic! It is great to be back. We are still sending our chocolate our all over the UK via our online shop, our chocolate is stocked in some wonderful shops, and we have lots of exciting plans in the works that I can't wait to tell you about soon.