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Hello from a Newbie
December 23, 2008
1:27 pm
Dow Jones
South Brent, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
December 23, 2008
Offline

Hi 70%ers,
I'm a trader that's struggling in these harsh economic times ('good' I here you say!) I'm only small fry, trading from home, so I'm not one of these flash banker types in braces and a pin stripe suit. Anyway, through necessity, I'm scaling back my trading activities and I'm looking to add a second string to my bow. The common advice from many people is to focus on something that you really enjoy and can genuinely enthuse about. In my case, besides trading, this means wine and chocolate! So, these are the two avenues I'm exploring and hope that you good folk here will help me to decide which of the two will be most fun. Fun is a key word - I really want to do something that I really enjoy, so that I wake up each morning with a smile on my face and excited about what the day has in store for me. I think a new career as a chocolatier might be the answer. So, any thoughts or ideas as to where I should start, what to do / not do, pitfalls to avoid etc. would be much appreciated. Thanks for any input and season's greetings to one and all.
DJ.

Chocolate was my first love and it will be my last, chocolate of the future and chocolate of the past.

Chocolate was my first love and it will be my last, chocolate of the future and chocolate of the past.
January 2, 2009
7:53 pm
Dow Jones
South Brent, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
December 23, 2008
Offline

Well, I'm shocked. Almost 60 views (at the time of writing) and, to my huge surprise, no replies. No one appears to be a passionate advocate of chocolate, bursting with ideas and suggestions to help. There's me thinking (mistakenly it seems) that members of this forum would be chocolate evangelists, fanatisists even, to the extent that religous extremists might question their own committment. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps none of you have the energy to post after the excesses of Christmas and I just need to be patient. But I doubt it. The reality, I suspect, is that most of you are just as happy with a box of Terry's All Gold as you are with a selection box of from TheoBroma. And, let's face it, if that's the common denominator among 70% members, then it's little wonder that I've not had a reply.
DJ.

Chocolate was my first love and it will be my last, chocolate of the future and chocolate of the past.

Chocolate was my first love and it will be my last, chocolate of the future and chocolate of the past.
January 3, 2009
10:21 am
choko
Tokyo, Japan
New Member
Forum Posts: 2
Member Since:
March 3, 2008
Offline

Hello,
I read your post twice.
Because English is not my mother tongue, it was not readily answered.
This is one hopeful suggestion from Japan.
The delivery of the fine chocolate bar from 70% shop is finished. Such a delivery is necessary for us, because purchase of the bar with the variation is difficult in Japan.
Good luck!

January 3, 2009
2:39 pm
jifar
United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 35
Member Since:
May 28, 2006
Offline

Dow,

If I were you I would take a look at this site http://www.egullet.org, find the pastry and baking section and then read through some of the numerous posts from people starting out or continuing with running chocolatier businesses.

If you are giving up on trading purely because the profit in it is no longer good then I would not even think about turning to chocolatier work as an alternative. There are lots of success stories of people doing this but these do not come overnight and you may well find in the current market only those that already know what they are doing survive the next couple of years. Thats my opinion anyway. Doing chocolate work part time is not so easy. Most sales happen at peak times and it can be hard to meet those demands and keep up with a day job.

If you want to learn about making chocolates again the web site above is excellent. There are also some posts here about courses, suppliers etc. Books by Jean Pierre Wybauw and Peter Greweling will also help. There are lots of professional courses but I wouldn't spend a lot of money on training until I had a better plan of what I was trying to achieve. The Callebuat Institute run many including more business management related ones.

I have no knowledge of wine except how to drink it so cannot even start to comment on its merits vs working with chocolate.

Your question is not easy to answer, I think that is why you did not get much response. Which country are you in?

regards

Jill

January 3, 2009
2:50 pm
Marcellus
Member
Forum Posts: 70
Member Since:
January 16, 2006
Offline

Hello Dow,
Maybe everyone's still suffering from Christmas indigestion. I was going to reply to your post before Christmas but was distracted.
I can't help you on the wine but the first thing I would suggest is to attend a chocolate course. Some are one day and some are two or three day courses and will give you a better idea of whether you really like the practical side of chocolating (is this a new verb?). It seems there is a romantic element in your posting which is not a bad thing for a hobby enthusiast but some of this will wear off after a few days or weeks of churning out thousands of truffles or moulded shells. It can be very tedious! I prefer to make personalized chocolate lollipops, name settings, dessert cups and other novelties for local parties & dinners. They give more scope to the imagination as well as being more profitable and requiring less equipment. There are many websites which feature chocolate sculptures if you want to be more adventurous.
I work from my home kitchen and I would definitely advise against renting any retail property for the next year or two (for obvious reasons) unless it is on a very short lease. If your kitchen is not suitable try hiring out a commercial kitchen as I did at one time. A local pub, for instance, may have their premises available during morning hours. Again, try to keep to a short lease; I was lucky and rented my kitchen unofficially as I knew the pub owner. Retail rents must fall just as domestic property prices have fallen. Landlords just haven't accepted the fact of it yet.
Don't start buying expensive equipment at the early stage. Learn how to temper using a microwave oven as this can be a big time saver. Chocolate equipment from small to large is very overpriced in my opinion. I saw a plastic chocolate scraper for sale somewhere for about £3 which was exactly the same product sold as a wallpaper scraper in Homebase for less than £1!
Quality chocolate and wine, in fact quality anything, look like being a very hard sell over the next few years so you may find it difficult to make much of a living to begin with but the best of luck to you.
My best advice is - commit yourself to spending as little as possible.

January 4, 2009
8:01 pm
miss coco
coleraine, United Kingdom
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Forum Posts: 57
Member Since:
March 3, 2008
Offline

i agree with marcellus and would say think long and clear about it.

i started my small chocolate business about a year ago and it did stem from a life long love afair with chocolate. i believed, as i now find everyone outside the chocolate business does, that it would be "the best job in the world". on the contrary, its damn hard work. making truffles is tedious. getting staff you can trust with your methods and recipes. getting staff full stop. it is impossible to run on your own if you want to sell enough to make a good living, unless you like being up to the wee small hours every night.

unless you have a retail unit you have to rely on corporate work, weddings, food markets etc. advertising and marketing yourself correctly is expensive. trying to get your feet through the right doors. it doesn't happen quickly and you will be out a lot of money in the first year.

when equipment fails you are left powerless or at a much slower pace than you need to be.

faith is all that keeps me going somedays. but i do believe in my product and there are no chocolate shops in the large town i live in (or within a 50 mile radius, except some home chocolatiers). i have a good pitch at my local speciality market and have just signed a lease for a small shop in the centre of town. but everything is on a shoe string budget. if i had £25,000, i would spend it, but you dont have to. as marcellus says, spend as little as possible, because it is a huge risk, especially if you give up your full time job.

on an up note - when someone tells you that your chocolate is the best they have tasted, when customers return again and again, and when you realise that hundreds of people are sitting on christmas morning opening a box of your chocolates - it makes it all worth while

blessings for whatever you decide to do x

January 5, 2009
4:05 pm
Dow Jones
South Brent, United Kingdom
Member
Forum Posts: 3
Member Since:
December 23, 2008
Offline

Wow! Blow me down with a feather, there is not only life among 70%ers, but very helpful advice as well. Thank you all for your interesting and instructive comments. In case any of you are interested, I'll update you with my current thinking and offer a few more details about my circumstances.

Firstly, trading. I've been a full time trader for a year now and, although I've not lost any money, I've not made any money either. Understandably, Mrs. DJ isn't overly impressed, nor is the person on the checkout at Tesco's when I can't pay for the shopping. So, from now on, trading will revert to being an evenings and weekend hobby. This leaves me with my next career which, hopefully, will generate some cash. Please don't get the wrong impression: I'm not interested in money over and above paying the bills and having food on the table. Give me a £10K p/a job any day that I love, in preference to a £100k p/a job that I hate. I thought of chocolate and wine for these very reasons - both are things I am naturally interested in and can enthuse about. The results of my investigations into the wine trade are a tad disappointing. It's having to contend not just with the economic downturn, but also the falling value of the pound (GBP). Consequently, opportunities are few and far between. The best merchant to work for is Majestic, and there are no vacancies anywhere near me. (I live just outside Plymouth, Devon, U.K.) The other thing that concerns me about wine is that the main career options are running an off licence or being a wine waiter / somelier. Both of these are fine in the short term, but I don't really fancy either of them in the longer term. So, enough about wine and back to chocolate. (About time too I hear you cry!)

I take on board and accept completely that the romantic gloss newbies have about making chocolate soon wears off when you do it every day and that the current climate is as tough - if not tougher - for chocatiers as it is for any other business. That said - and please correct me if I'm wrong about this - I would have thought that chocolate is easy to sell IF - big if - you can get the product in front of people for them to taste? I say this as someone who once sold life insurance door to door on the mean streets of Bristol!

Some years ago, my wife and I lived in a suburb of Malaga in southern Spain. There was a delightful old man who used to go from bar to bar every day selling his wicker basket full of very neatly packed almonds that he'd peeled, toasted and lightly salted. Delicious, but not cheap at one euro a pack! That's all he did; nothing else. Simple, but highly effective direct marketing. It strikes me that many of you here will make a fantastic product that people will buy (even in hard times like these) if they can see it and try it.

Sorry for rambling on. If any of you live and work anywhere near my neck of the woods and would consider allowing me to visit your business to gain a greater insight into the life and work of a professional chocolatier - please PM me. I'd love to meet you and take my research to the next level. Thanks again for the great replies and I hope that 2009 brings mountains of chocolate generated profits to you all!
DJ.

Chocolate was my first love and it will be my last, chocolate of the future and chocolate of the past.

Chocolate was my first love and it will be my last, chocolate of the future and chocolate of the past.

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