...there was very little choice for real hot chocolate aficionados, then one woman decided to fight for her right to enjoy a steaming cup of chocolatey goodness, whenever and wherever she pleased!
(this is not me by the way, though I wish it was - she looks cool!)
Well, not quite. Though I'd like to think I'm some great rebel, the fact is I could make myself a reasonably good cup of hot chocolate at home (usually from real chocolate, but in a pinch from cocoa powder and sugar, or in a real pinch... "powdered drinking chocolate") or I could go to the ends of the earth to find a chocolate shop where they would melt real chocolate into milk. The problem though was that I still did not have real choice. My dear husband (hereafter to be "DH") would make me a special treat, especially if I was feeling under the weather, and stir cinnamon into my drinking chocolate. I don't know about you - I love the flavour, but hate the grittiness of cinnamon! The only other choice I had was adding syrups if I wanted a flavoured hot chocolate (blugh - too sweet!)
One day, inspiration struck! I went with my dearest mother ("DM") to a tea shop to buy DH a tin of loose leaf tea. Have you been to one of those brick and mortar shops? Lined wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling with so many flavours that you lose count? Beautiful and inspiring. I stood in that amazing shop and thought to myself "this is so unfair after just yesterday I left my hot chocolate undrunk at the restaurant because it tasted like lukewarm barely flavoured milk". As the weeks passed I started looking up the process of making chocolate - if my lovely mother-in-law (LMIL) could make delicious confections from chocolate, surely I too could learn?
I took an online course and had DH bring me a melanger (chocolate refining machine, now lovingly called "Abigail") all the way from the USA in his suitcase. After a fortune and some time I felt confident enough to try and make my own chocolate. What a disaster! I did not anticipate the process to be so costly, time consuming, and MESSY! Also doesn't help having a one year old (dear son #1 (DS1)) underfoot... So, Abigail was put away. The dreams, however, were not put away with her.
Fast Forward 3 years
Welcome to 2020- the year that will go down in history! I'm sure I don't need to waffle on about all the things that came out of the woodwork in 2020, but one thing that did pop up, was, well, the Pop Up Business School Aotearoa!
Simple enough - a 2 week online business course that I could sit in the comfort of my lounge doing via the internet. The 3 in-person days would be easy - I would just get DM to look after dear daughter (DD) and dear son #2 (DS2). HA! The lovely folks at Pop Up Business School Aotearoa decided that it would be fun to spring on us one the first day that we have 8 days to prepare for a live sales event. PANIC! So, in between attending classes I frantically searched for Abigail, sourced product, made a basic website, produced business cards, made posters, bought cups... lets just say, you can get a lot done in 8 days!
The Show Must Go On
Poor Abigail didn't make it through the process (but fret not - we sourced her a new motor and she's now well and truly recovered!) but she still accompanied me to the show. There were a few hiccups on the day (and many more to come over the coming months and years!) and I kept thinking to myself "the universe is telling me not to do this!". Luckily, inspired by all my fellow entrepreneurs and all their amazing products and services on offer, I forged on.
DH came to hold the fort and make hot chocolates as I frantically dashed from person to person trying to get as many sales as possible. My first sale became my first word-of-mouth referral - I was ecstatic! In 90 minutes I had managed to sell 26 hot chocolates, 3 of which were to persons wanting a second cup! My mind was blown! I also had a lovely gentleman from Ecuador come to me and say "this tastes just like the hot chocolates I had as a child". WOW! He grew up in the home of the amazing cocoa bean... for me this was a real boost! (I shall pause here to apologise for all the exclamation marks, but you really cannot imagine my excitement on the day).
I walked away a few hundred dollars out of pocket (let's be realistic, I knew I wasn't going to break even, never mind make a profit in 90 minutes!) so it came to crunch time - do I forge forward, or do I call it quits? It is a completely different beast all together moving from a pipe dream to reality.
So, I said you can get much done in 8 days... you can get even more done in 48 days.
I have a new and much prettier website. I have 7 flavours (of which a few come in various chocolates). I have a queue of people waiting to buy. All I can do now is ride the rollercoaster!