THE LUXURY CHOCOLATIER JOINS THE TRIBE
Amelia is constantly looking into herself and never forgets where she is coming from, Her attention to detail
is powerful and her abstract palette and sense of what her clients desire is a key factor to her succes.
I would say they are sophisticated, stylish, and they are driven by my palette so they are all about taste or my preference on taste, my spin on taste, there for a treat, I hope they don’t make you feel guilty when you eat them. Some chocolates make you think “I shouldn’t have eaten that” my chocolates are a small snapshot of the taste and goodness, a treat and something special and With the packaging it’s quite an experience. I really love seeing people’s faces, when they see lime and sea salt. “What is lime and sea salt” and then they taste it and they are like wow! A lot of my personality goes into my creations.
How luxury chocolate found me
I’ll try to keep my story really short it’s quite a lengthy story because I’m a female that’s lived her life and done many different things. In my twenties and thirties I was involved in administration roles which frustrated me and bored me so each year I would change my role but my only qualification as such was in the secretarial field. I was frustrated with my father as he was old fashioned and didn’t believe in a job or education. In his mind you would get married to someone who would financially support you with the children and that would be it. It’s not a criticism on him but it really frustrated me as I wanted to go to university and have a career.
I studied nutrition herbal medicine, I qualified as an aromatherapist, I even sold mouse traps for a day, my last job was a practice manager of a doctor’s surgery, that was fantastic in the way that it taught me so much about managing people, they were interesting characters but it made me so frustrated and ready to do something for me. I went to see a life coach but in that time who knew what a life coach was? I eventually took her on as my own business coach and what she did was help me believe in me! The young generation today are all into that but I’m in my 40s and in my thirties no one was in interested in finding out who they really were, I went on master chef a couple of times, from there I went on to a chocolate course at Valhrona and that’s where I first experienced the life of chocolate and started to understand how it is paralleled to good wine and good coffee. Sadly I don’t drink tea, one sip and the smell makes me ill.
I still didn’t want a chocolate business because I was overweight, I think I probably used to be 2 stone heavier than I am now, mainly around my middle and so I would have never chosen a food business. The key Turning point in my business was in 2009, a friend of mine who was a successful entrepreneur called Pat Reed said to me “You should create chocolate bars” I said no to him for a year then he put a commission to me in November 2009 for a thousand chocolate bars. The plan was that each one would go out to one of his clients so he was immediately helping me with marketing, his criteria was he wanted it big and chunky, he wanted craft paper and I hand wrapped them all (health and safety would of hated me with his staffy by my side in the living room) I delivered them and he paid me in an extra thousand bars. I went out and sold them and I was lucky as my first proper retailer was Selfridges and my next store was whole foods who are brilliant!
The Amelia Rope client
I think the market has changed a lot, when I entered there was only 3 premium bars. There was a big education process to understand the price point, my market is very much a gifting one, I have a strong UK market and am also appreciated in other countries. I am looking to export to Asian markets as the subtle flavours along with the beautifully packaged products will work well. I think the Brits including me are reluctant to spend out on things, We like discounts and bargains
The “M” word
When I first started I had no money and was turned down by the banks, I complained to my local Essex mp. She was great! (I still see her) she got me to Vince Cable because I was so frustrated and I had 2 orders including one from Selfridges and the bank still wouldn’t lend and even If my mum’s father guaranteed the overdraft. I raised seven thousands through family and friends, they put in a grand each totalling 7 grand and they got 1% of the business per thousand they put in.
“Our childhood is a trigger for making us who we are”
The supply chain
I’m very loyal to my suppliers, if ever I need an emergency job done they will always do it, we have a good solid relationship. If a supplier lets me down more than twice I’ll have to change because the danger is that the lead times will grow and orders get backed up (Not an efficient way to work) with me everybody knows they will get paid unless they don’t do the job right and then I have to be a tough cow.
The reason why I don’t have my own kitchen is because of costs, for example you need an x-ray machine to pick up metal fragments in the bars which cost a huge amount of money. The kitchen I use is BRCA credited and they are at the top of their game, you have to delegate and trust people in building a business, this is the only way and also investors like to know that you can handle shed loads of orders, which I can.
Making bars at home is not really practical, it’s better to have what I call a converted shed which I would have in Essex, I couldn’t do that here it’s too expensive so I’ve never made my bars, I’ve made my truffles and my flora.
Learning is constant
I think I’m constantly learning, there are times when we become more reactive and more emotive with our response, so I’m learning everyday how to get it right. It makes you grow as you must when you own a business, the growth is in a very three dimensional space. when you are being employed by people it’s two dimensional, your true you is never leaked out, so if I was to snuff it this afternoon there are errors in my life probably my personal life where I feel frustrated that I haven’t sorted out but I didn’t have kids and stuff like that. But as far as me being stretched as a person I feel that I’ve been this elastic band that’s been pinged , I feel that I’ve been stretched but not enough.
He is truly missed…
I really miss my mate Pete, he’s my mentor and he was the most amazing man who I will never meet again I miss him hugely and nobody can fill his shoes as he was there from the start. Now I have had the British library they are fantastic and give fantastic support on the innovation for growth but I haven’t filled that gap left by Pete. I don’t have anyone to lean on or to off load on with that level with savvy advice, you get lot of people say they can help but it’s tiring going through the whole process as they don’t really know you or don’t understand brand, that is my challenge at the moment.
Three word that describe me
Loyal , honest & naughty
Our childhood is our trigger for making us who we are. I can be shy and can be a comedian, I like having fun but I can be serious. I hate it when I have to be a strong women were I feel like I’m being fleeced and having to be firm.