Cocoa was opened in 2004 by Rachell & Jon Burton. Rachell had a passion for nostalgia and loved old antique confectionery trinkets. While trawling on e bay for new finds she stumbled upon a truffle cabinet and ended up buying it. Suddenly realising she wasn't sure what to do with a truffle cabinet, it seemed the next obvious thing was to open a chocolate shop! Alas Cocoa was born. I (Anne) was at Hallam uni at this time and noticed a new chocolate shop, curiosity brought me in and I immediately asked if there were any jobs going while handing my CV in. From there Rachell took me on, they had only been open a month so it felt really exciting to be part of such a wonderful project. At this point it was just the front shop that was open to the public but the fixtures and fittings have stayed much the same. As Cocoa got busier I managed to get Kate a job in Cocoa (we had met in halls in the first year) and together we all made a great team.
In 2006 Jon's career as a sound engineer had boomed (excuse the pun) and Rachell wanted to spend more time with her children, together they decided to sell the business. Kate and I were really sad as we had fallen in love with the place and had so many ideas for it. As the months went by there was a lack of interest from buyers and Rachell said she may have to just take it all down and leave it empty, I then had a nightmare that it was going to be turned into a chip shop and this had genuinely upset me! She suggested Kate and I buy it to save the business since we loved it so much. This idea at the time seemed crazy as we were in our final year of university, had no money or business experience and were only 21 years old. But it actually took us all of 5 minutes to agree this was in fact a good idea, a lot of thinking through our hearts not heads here. The next step wasn't easy but Rachell helped us through the first part of borrowing the money, we had to write a few business plans on the spot with no experience of writing business plans! Fortunately this was pre-recession and we were able to borrow enough money from the bank and family to buy the business and start us off. Oh and finish our degrees at the same time!
Many people doubted us, thought we were stupid and assumed we would fall out. And it was actually them who spurred us on to really give it a go. The first year was definitely the hardest and we really did have to make so many mistakes in order to move forward. You can read as many books as you want but sometimes you have to just put it into practice. But we are still here and we are really proud of that. We are also still really close to the Burton's, we actually employ their eldest daughter Emily- keeping it in the family. And Kate and I are clearly still friends & we still love chocolate just as much if not more!
So let the celebrations begin...