This week we take the time to meet another of our newest crafters, and this time it’s Katie from Cocoa Belle of Folkestone. Just in time for Easter, this talented chocolatier has filled several of our shelves with her imaginative and delicious chocolate based treats. Take a look at her interview to see what it takes to make be in charge of a deliciously creative business.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Katie and I am a chocolatier and run Cocoa Belle, making handmade chocolates in Kent.
How did you get into crafting?
From a young age I was always in the kitchen and reading cookery books, and in 2010 I started a cake making business making celebration and wedding cakes whilst working full time. It was when I was making cakes and sometimes working with chocolate that I fell in love with it. In January 2015 I completed a three month chocolate training programme and shortly after left my day job and set up Cocoa Belle!
Who and what inspires you to create?
I get my inspiration mainly from what I like to eat or drink and try and work this into my chocolate creations. My other love in life is travel and some of my chocolates are inspired by my adventures abroad. I once tried mango with lime, chilli powder and parmesan cheese – and it worked! One day I will make a chocolate version. I also listen to my customers about what they want and am always willing to give new ideas a try.
Which crafters/artists/designers do you most admire?
None chocolate related, but I really admire people who can paint. I have come across many really talented painters since Cocoa Belle started.
When did you decide to make the leap from making for friends and family to creating your own business?
I made the leap in April 2015 and it was the scariest and most exciting thing I have done. Every day brings a new challenge.
What five things would you say were essential when you set up your craft business?
Support – Someone needs to be able to give you the confidence in what you’re doing and push you further. Having your own business also takes up a lot of your time. Your friends and family need to support you in every way.
Self-belief – If you don’t believe in yourself, that will come across when you are trying to sell your product.
Passion – I work very long hours at key times of the year and wake up early and stand in the freezing cold and rain every weekend at markets. If it wasn’t for the fact I love what I do, I wouldn’t be able to do it.
Hard Work – Its not just making the product, it’s also creating good packaging, selling, doing the accounts, stock control, marketing, meeting with stockists, and quite often waking up in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea.
Confidence – You need to be able to sell your product and to do that you need to talk to people. I often see people at craft fairs who don’t talk to customers at their stall, and so they don’t sell anything despite it being a great product. People like to know about the producer as well as the item.
Name three of your most popular designs.
The Lemon and Lime bar. Most people tell me they are unsure the flavours will work before they try it, but it’s very citrusy and refreshing, and it’s by far my best seller. The Rose Bar – turkish delight in bar without the squidginess – and the Salted Caramel Discs – the sweetness of the chocolate followed by the salt that melts on your tongue – ate also very popular.
If you weren’t a chocolatier, what would you be doing with your time?
I would be doing something creative and most likely with food. Or travelling the world.
Do you run any workshops or take part in any groups?
I run several workshops for both adults and children. The children’s ones are generally for birthday parties where they make chocolate pizzas. For adults I regularly run chocolate truffle workshops or one to one tuition, as well as hen party chocolate making sessions and corporate workshops.
What’s new with your craft for 2016? Tell us about some of the exciting things we can expect to see from you at the Emporia this year.
I am working on a new range of chocolate bars with more unusual flavours – watch this space for things like salt and pepper, wasabi, and strawberry and pink pepppercorn.
And if you would like to try some of Katie’s amazing chocolate combos for yourself, you can get your hands on her Easter eggs, flavoured bars, and fresh chocolate truffles now. Plus, there will be a special chocolate tasting session taking place at Emporia on Wednesday 23rd March around lunchtime – keep your eyes on our Facebook page for timings – so pop in and try out her amazing flavour combinations and see if you can’t satisfy your Easter egg cravings all in one.