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Friday 27 December 2013

2013 in bullets

In a sudden realisation that this blog has been slightly unloved, this is a very quick catch up of what we’ve been up to in Cocoa this year. Often blogging is a great way of reflecting what has happened that week, day, hour etc but when you are so ‘in it’ there isn’t always a window to reflect anything and this is what kind of happened here. So in the style of Camilla’s Butterscotch and Beesting blog ‘6 months in bullets’ which I LOVED! I am totally stealing this idea! So in case we didn’t tell you THIS is what happened this year in Cocoa:

  •  Kate and I braved it out the shop for a trip to Hebden Bridge to see retail guru Kate Hardcastle, talk on behalf of Welcome toYorkshire. This was actually the best talk we have ever been to.  Ever!

  • Faye from Keep you Fork kindly hosted a party in Cocoa which was so popular there was no room to sit down and I ended up networking in the kitchen while washing up!

  •  Kate discovered a new chocolate bar made from tree to bar in Vietnam from a You Tube video. One thing led to another and we started selling our first ever Asian chocolate bar, called Marou. It’s also totally gorgeous.

  • A customer asked if it was OK to propose to his girlfriend and he got his mates to hold up signs saying ‘will you marry me’ outside the shop and he and his girlfriend looked from the Butterfly Boudoir. She said YES!! And she even had her hen do in Cocoa at a Chocolate lock in. Beautiful moment.
  • We met local lady Jane Stammers and started selling her Tipple Tail cakes in our shop.

  • There was nearly snow at Easter.

  •  I learned what a Twitter DM was, who knew! There was A LOT of unread messages.
  •    I agreed to do a Pecha Kucha talk about ‘the ethics of chocolate’ where I spoke to about 100 people about the subject. I was actually more nervous than I was on my wedding day but it went really well (as did my wedding day).

  • We arranged an Easter egg hunt on Ecclesall road including as many local shops as we could get on board to raise money for Neurocare. It was great!
  •   Bit of a shock when we saw Ladbrokes had opened opposite us!

  •  Met Joanne Harris at a book launch in the local Library. Got her to sign a copy of our book ‘Chocolat’.

  •   After much demand we created a dairy free hot chocolate, which is currently my favourite one.

  •   I went sign mad and could not stop making more and more arrows around the shop!

  • We used the money we had saved over Easter to finally buy a tempering machine (this is perfect for making chocolate)

  •   We did a photo shoot with Boneshaker, which was bonkers and loads of fun!

  •   Found out that our good friend from Grenada, Mott Green had died suddenly. Completely gutted.

  •  Camilla of Butterscotch and Beesting designed an absolutely gorgeous Cocoa pattern, which we are slowly creeping into the business but soon will be everywhere!

  • Got a new oven installed in our very tiny kitchen.

  •  Finally produced our own cakes for the cafĂ© in our kitchen AND starting making our own chocolate experiments in our tempering machine.

  •  Cocoa turned 9!

  • We had a crazy heat wave, which is usually really bad for chocolate sales but it didn’t seem to stop anyone.

  •  We started hiring out jars full off sweets for wedding sweetie bars and they came back in one piece!

  • We had a boy for work experience over the summer! A boy in Cocoa!

  •   Kate and I were invited to 4 hen dos and 4 weddings, which gave us plenty of reasons to make our own hen do and wedding gifts from the chocolate we were making. We forgot to photograph any of it but the highlight for me was Kate’s sister in laws chocolate L plate.

  •  Sheffield Hallam asked Kate and I to be part of a case study for students who have done well (at least I think that’s what it was about) but it was really nice to be asked.

  •  Our website shop died no real explanation. It just died.

  •  We agreed to do a weekend stall at the Folksy Summer School in Ecclesall woods, despite saying that we would never work at the weekend or do stalls and to add to it we had just been to a wedding and were pretty hung over. BUT it was beautiful and we met loads of lovely people including Gemma from the Button tin.

  • We became the case study to about 40 school projects and some uni ones, ranging from business, journalism, food tech, design and geography. When did this happen?

  • We also started recruiting for a full time apprentice, something we have never done before.

  •   Kate and I escaped the shop to dash off to London for the day to go to a Chocolate fair.

  •   Our new full time apprentice Megan started and slowly we actually had a lot more time in the week thanks to her help.

  •   I discovered chocolate paint and proceeded to paint everything and anything.

  • Our amazing Cocoa girl Evie left to go to university in Leeds. There was an Evie shaped hole in the building.
  •   There was a food festival in Sheffield and we got people painting their own chocolate lollies in the shop.

  •  We finally got a new Cocoa sign on our canopy thanks to Lord Bunn.

  •   I cried in a meeting. Camilla asked me what I thought (as in about the design work) and I replied ‘I think I’m going to cry’. I realised later I was a little bit ill and stressed and could not make sensible decisions about anything that day. Lesson learnt it’s OK to have an off day.

  • There was Chocolate week, where we got our customers to suggest chocolate concoctions that we could make. We made a lot of mess.

  • We managed to make another website shop!

  • Went to Rotherham and discovered the Button Tin which is AMAZING.

  •  Got asked by a new hotel in Sheffield called theFlorentine to be their suppliers of local handmade chocolate for their guests. Got really excited and then got really busy making chocolate for them.

  • Then got asked by Reece of Urban Pantry to stock his shop with local handmade chocolate, so got back in our tiny kitchen and got really busy. He sold out really quickly which made our day.

  •   I ordered a ridiculous amount of Marmite chocolate, as I was so excited it was back. It turns out this was the right thing to do as we have nearly sold out.

  •  But we did sell out of our best seller THE SPANISH DRINKING CHOCOLATE a week before Christmas, which was a total disaster!

  •  We won best hot chocolate in Sheffield via Norton Creative. We have never won anything so we were happy to take this one.

  • This new chocolate making meant introducing something Kate and I never thought we would have to do, get up at 6am! Turns out it wasn’t so bad. 

What a year!

Monday 11 November 2013

A lovely day out at the Button tin


So last weekend Kate and I (and our friends) treated ourselves to an afternoon at the Button tin in Rotherham. We had met Gemma this Summer at the Folksy Summer school and had always wanted to visit. Gemma has created the most magical space in the centre of a gorgeous old building called The Imperial building, which has apparently been abandoned for many years. The Button Tin is the sort of place that's really hard to describe but it's basically an ode to vintage sewing with neat little piles of unique fabrics, thread and of course buttons. I stole this photo from Georgina Humphrey as mine were a bit rubbish and Gemma looks lovely in it. (please click on the link to look at more of Georgina's work)

So the first thing we did (after a cup of tea) was decide what to make and look at Gemma's work for inspiration.

 I really wanted to have a go at sewing words and so I picked a simple phrase to use, this is my first draft. The Best Is Yet To Come always makes me feel positive, especially if I'm having a bad day, so I wanted it for my wall.

 I then rummaged through the vintage fabrics to find the ones I wanted to work with. Gemma has been collecting these for many years and likes the idea of each piece having a history. I picked lots of earthy greens and neutral colours & placed them together.

 Now the work begins!

 This was my workspace.


And lots of tea to keep us going.


 This is Kate working hard on her nautical creation.


 She picked a lovely shiney fabric for hers.

 Then we had some cake!


 I finally finished my letters and used the sewing machine to attach everything together.

I even had time to add some buttons! This is my finished product which will now live on my wall at home.


Gemma kindly wrapped it up and tied it with string.

And just before we went I captured some pics of the Button tin at night.

 A magical place indeed.

When we got back to the shop I remembered we had some chocolate button moulds and so I had a go at making lots of different flavoured chocolate buttons. Here are the ones I sent to Gemma to say thank you. Please check out her blog here and make a trip for yourself.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Social Media Chocolate

This is just a silly blog really but I wanted to show you how we made this...

 It was an idea I had ages ago when I realised there was nothing in the shop that suggested we even had a facebook, twitter & blog account for the shop. It's so easy to get carried away using social media everyday & forget to point out the obvious. So I wanted to make a picture that had all our social media together that could live in the shop for customers to see.

First I started with my favourite thing in the world, chocolate paint! I decided to paint on white chocolate as the colours would stand out more & all logos had white in them. Here is my Facebook logo...

 I think this is my personal fave, the Twitter bird. I actually used the same facebook blue chocolate paint and mixed it with a white chocolate paint to get as close as I could to the logo colour...

& the blogger B

 This is my first trial of putting them together. I wanted it to look like a chocolate bar which had been opened, which it is! So I included the foil & wrapper from the bar...

This time I wanted a brighter background, so I got a candy stripe bag...

So from here I got our friend Phil (who lives round the corner from the shop) to take some photos on his much better camera and Cocoa Kate very kindly did all the technical stuff, as she is very good at  
that & from there we got the final piece...

 BUT then today I felt like completing this whole project with a bite! I really like the results but I do feel sick as I have eaten an entire white chocolate bar to myself!

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Jamie & Helen's Lovely wedding

Been meaning to put this up for AGES! So this Summer our good friends Jamie & Helen got married, Kate and I lived with Jamie many moons ago now. Then Jamie & Helen moved to China for 4 years (hence our trip to China back in 2011). Jamie's sister Emily was also our very first Cocoa girl back in 2008. Here is Emily as a gorgeous bridesmaid.

And here is me and Kate, having a tipple. I love this pic!

So as an experiment we made them a giant nib-a-licious bar (a huge version of the one we sell) for their wedding. This seemed like a good idea when I asked Jamie what his favourite bar was but in reality on the wedding day it was so hot I feared the bar would not make it!

This was my first attempt with edible paint (I'm now obsessed with it!)

And we included other chocolate moulds such as roses & buttons.

 Then Jamie & Helen very kindly sent a thank you card with this picture of it. This really shows the scale of the bar.

All in all a great wedding, a great couple & a massive chocolate bar!