If there’s one industry that is booming at the moment, and tempting ever more people to try their hand at entrepreneurship, it’s the artisan food market. The public really have developed a taste for loving crafted, and unique food products, and this has opened up a huge range of possibilities for the food-loving, enterprising individual.
Meg, first up pitch to us about Raw Halo - keep it brief but give us a taste of your business.
Raw Halo is an artisan raw chocolate brand. We are organic, vegan approved and refined sugar free, but unlike your mass produced products, Raw Halo chocolate is handmade and hand wrapped. We source the finest Peruvian cacao; it has such rich and indulgent flavour which means I only need to add a touch of raw coconut sugar to naturally sweeten it. My dairy-free 'mylk' chocolate recipe has only half the amount of total sugars compared to other leading raw chocolate brands - which is really important for me. I find that chocolate preferences are very personal so I've created 9 different bars, meaning there's something for everyone whether you like your chocolate dark, creamy, pure, with added crunch, flavoured or fruity.
We appreciate you have a love of Chocolate, but how did you end up developing an artisan raw chocolate brand - that doesn't happen by accident!
Yep, so you're absolutely right that I love chocolate, however I cut out refined sugars from my diet a few years ago and wanted a healthy alternative. That's when I started making raw chocolate and healthy snacks at home. I knew that I could bring variety to the market and offer something which tastes delicious but has less sugar than other brands so I set out to create Raw Halo.
Artisan products seem to be very much of the moment - why do you think that is?
I think consumers are becoming more aware of what goes into their food and where it comes from. Artisan producers have a real focus on high quality ingredients, often certified organic like Raw Halo, meaning that you get the amazing flavours without the need to add anything artificial. It's great that customers can look at the back of a wrapper and actually recognise all of the ingredients - something which unfortunately rarely happens with mass producers who become driven by maximising profits at the expense of quality.
Becoming a young entrepreneur can be a scary process - how did your family and friends take it when you explained your plans?
I won't lie - they were a little surprised at first as I'd been very driven in my HR career but once they understood more about my motivations and what my plans were, they were very excited for me. For many of them, raw chocolate has been a new concept so they've really enjoyed learning about all of the amazing health benefits of raw cacao. I think they've enjoyed sampling my recipes too!
What was the hardest part of the process in becoming market ready?
I would say juggling the business set-up alongside a demanding full time career was the most difficult time. Let's just say there were many late nights. I quickly realised that launching 9 different chocolate bars and superfood packs was quite adventurous as it meant that the packaging design itself became a pretty large project. Luckily I found a great printing company who helped me bring my packaging to life.
Give us an indication of the feedback you've had since you launched the Raw Halo brand?
I've had such lovely feedback on the packaging. Everyone loves the colours, which makes all those hours I spent matching colours in my Pantone book all worthwhile. Everyone has been so positive about the variety across the Dark and Mylk bars and it's exciting to hear which flavours are their favourites. It's hugely gratifying when customers tell me it's the best chocolate they've ever tasted.
12 months from now - where would you like the business to be?
My hope is for Raw Halo to establish itself as a leader in the Raw Chocolate market. Over the next year I'll be focusing on my online presence and building upon my growing list of stockists. I have my favourite shops here in London and also back home in the Peak District and I'll be working on getting Raw Halo stocked in all of them. Most exciting for me, I hope to expand my range to include more flavours - the hard part will be deciding which ones!
Thanks for the chat Meg, and best of luck with Raw Halo!
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Mi-IDEA Manchester Networking Event
27th Sep 2016
The teams from CISCO and Manchester Science Partnerships have teamed up to create Mi-IDEA, a post-accelerator designed to foster and nurture digital innovation in the North West of England.