If chocolate is the answer, who cares what the question is!
If you haven’t heard of ChoconChoc, it is a handmade chocolate company started in 2003 by father-daughter team, Kerr Dunlop and Flo Broughton. Kerr is an accomplished inventor (in the 1980s he designed the immensely popular hedgehog boot wiper), and was inspired when he was messing around with chocolate in the kitchen one day, with recently graduated Flo. Together they were filling rubber moulds shaped as noughts and crosses thinking that that they would make rather nice presents for the family. The rest as they say, is history and over the past ten years ChoconChoc has become a firm fixture in a number of big High Street retailers including John Lewis, Selfridges and Waitrose to name but a few. Recently we had the pleasure to talk to Kerr, the Founder of ChoconChoc.
Where did you get the motivation to start Choconchoc?
Panic! No seriously, retirement loomed and my interest and passion for design meant I wanted to keep going. So, we filled some of my old moulds with chocolates and then Flo became involved almost immediately and began bossing me about!
What did you do before Choconchoc?
In the 70's I invented the magnetic cat flap so only your cat could come in. I was then an interior designer and then created the hedgehog boot wiper that sat outside your front door, which was a very successful business.
What have you enjoyed most about creating Choconchoc?
The fact it brings a smile to people faces and they say “is that really chocolate?”
Have there been any funny moments along the way?
When we filmed for 'Mary Berry Cooks' she came here and I got completely tongue tied. I’m no good on camera so left it to Flo!
What’s been the most pivotal moment for Choconchoc?
In our first year we got listed in John Lewis and still are today 13 years later; it has really given our brand kudos and helped us to grow the business.
Have you faced any difficulties along the way?
[The] greatest difficulty is cash flow as we are a seasonal business. But when the recession hit in 2008 the bank suddenly without notice withdrew a chunk of our overdraft - that proved a tricky time.
What advice would you give other people who want to start a business after 50?
It can be tiring, you think you are full of energy but you aren’t. Having said that, surround yourself with young people - that really helps.
What challenges do you think people changing career direction might experience?
It's great being your own boss but if you’re not working you’re not earning. If you've always had a steady salaried job this would come as a shock. Also tax – this shocks everybody who has been employed then becomes self employed - you have to save.
Who do you most admire in business and why?
Dyson. He owns 100% of his business, how he did that I’ve no idea.
What three qualities do you think make a good entrepreneur?
Passion, self belief, disciplined.
You’ve obviously got lots of verve and vigour for life, what’s your secret?
Full English breakfast every day.
What’s your mantra that you live by?
It has to be perfect or don’t do it at all.
What’s your favourite type of chocolate?
Cadburys Fruit and Nut or though recently the Polish staff have given me chocolate cherry liquors and they are fabulous.
What’s your favourite Choconchoc product and why? The cheese board, when it all came together it worked and everybody who sees it says “wow”.
Choconchoc is also giving White Hot customers an exclusive 15% off with any Choconchoc purchase, visit www.choconchoc.co.uk and enter the code ‘CHEESE’ at checkout and your discount will be applied.
And exclusively for White Hot customers, if you buy any White Hot products from Wednesday 8th June, you’ll receive a delicious Choconchoc treat in your parcel worth £4 (while stocks last, of course!)