Happy New Year! 2016 has been a roller coaster of a year with so many highlights, some challenging lows and amazing developments for me personally and for CHOC Chick. It’s been a very full on year with new product launches, a terribly devastating Earthquake in Ecuador followed by an epic trip to Ecuador to visit our farmers, new fabulous people have joined the CHOC Chick team, fantastic growth with CHOC Chick products stocked with new independent stockists and even more Holland & Barrett stores in the UK and Europe and amazing awards won.
It’s wonderful to be able to look back and review this past year and I’m excited about the new possibilities we can create and all the new opportunities still to come in 2017.
Wishing you all a very happy New Year, filled with love, laughter, good health, fulfilment and lots and lots of chocolate!
CHOC Chick x
The year started off with a bang. We were delighted when our CHOC Chick Organic Raw Cacao Powder won the Highly Commended in the Super Foods category at the Free From Food Awards 2016
Preparations for Valentine’s day and Easter took over and we also began production on our new Blissful Blends blended raw cacao range.
This was a difficult month when on April 16th a terrible earthquake devastated much of the coastal areas in Ecuador. We were in constant touch with the cooperatives and farmers we work with and decided that the best way to show our support would be to order more cacao and travel to Ecuador as soon as we could to visit our friends, the affected areas and help in any way we could.
We were absolutely excited to launch our brand new Blissful Blends range, blended raw cacao powder with cinnamon and mandarin exclusively at 400 Holland & Barrett stores throughout the UK.
The amazing Kate Ballard joined as our CHOC Manager, bringing with her an enthusiasm, wonderfully loud laugh and incredible singing voice. Oh and she is a superb sales person, events manager and is an absolute joy to work with!
It was important to me to visit our farmers and cooperatives in Ecuador, especially after the devastating earthquake and I decided to take along the utterly fabulous Mi Elfverson to video and photograph this visit. It turned into the most epic and inspirational trip. We were overwhelmed by the amazing people of Ecuador, the beautiful scenery and sites, the incredible wildlife and the wonderful generosity of spirit of everyone we encountered.
There is so much to tell about this life changing trip and I will share more in the New Year, but in the meantime will leave you with some of the wonderful photos Mi took.
Back from Ecuador and it was all systems go as we moved into new offices at the Knoll Business Centre in Hove. September was an incredible month and it seemed to just get better and better. It was our month of awards. I was absolutely delighted and amazed to have won the Women Empowerment Award at the European Sustainability Academy in Crete. It was such an emotional and profound weekend meeting incredible women and men who put sustainability first and I was honoured to be amongst them.
Then mid September it was off to the Janey Lee Grace Platinum Awards ceremony in London. A glamorous and delightful affair and I was even more delighted when CHOC Chick Cacao Powder won the Platinum Award for best organic food!
As if it couldn’t get any better, September ended with the Mum and Working Awards at the RBS building in Bishopsgate London. Another glamorous and amazing event and the amazement continued when I won the Business Mum of the Year award for London and the Southeast. It was a complete surprise and you can see how delighted I was!
In October we welcomed the wonderful Carole Ward as our CHOC Accounts manager, bringing with her an air of calm and collectedness that Kate and I really needed. She is the meticulous one, making sure we get our accounts and invoices right and has since become an indispensable part of our team.
We also moved all CHOC Chick production and fulfilment to a new outsourced warehouse in Thornton Cleveley’s near Blackpool and despite the stress of moving everything up North, it’s wonderful to be part of such a thriving business and manufacturing community both in Brighton-Hove and the North West of England.
We were inundated with Christmas orders and had one of our best months ever. Our new Cacao Butter Beans hit the shelves as well. Have you seen our cacao butter? It now comes in 3g cocoa bean shapes and is so much easier to use and more versatile. Makes melting cacao butter for raw chocolate making super easy and quick and is an incredible addition to cooking and frying. We use it instead of coconut oil and have fried eggs, fish and meat using only 1-2 beans (3-6 grams). We also love adding a cacao butter bean to chillies and stews to enrich the flavour. More recipes and idea to come in 2017!