Cafe's, Family and Chocolates!
Becoming a chocolatier is not something that I thought I would ever do or had ever wanted to be, (apart from if I had a factory like Willy Wonka with loads of Umpa Lumpas LOL!). It’s funny how things turn out the way they do isn’t it?
My whole working career, since I was 20, has been working for my parents in their Cafés (Aroma) in Bridgend and Cowbridge. I studied Biomedical Science in University but after a year I knew it just wasn’t for me. I always LOVED studying, but I knew deep down that I needed a change. The only problem was I didn’t know what else to do.
My father, who had opened his own little café in Bridgend, was in his first year in trading. The Café was going from strength to strength, and it felt like the natural thing to do to go and work with him.
The experience of building a business, relocating due to expansion, and also opening another new Café is so exciting, I absolutely loved it! It’s hard to put into words all the things I love about it, but it’s that thing of seeing a space go from literally 4 walls and a concrete floor to a fully functioning Café serving fresh food and drink to 80 people on a busy summer’s day is such a satisfying feeling.
Believe it or not, this was the only pic I could find with the three of us together in the Cafe!😂
We seen quite a few celebrities over the years..(I wasn't in work on the day Gareth popped in 😒).
My father and I were such a great team, he is an absolute stickler for attention to detail and can pretty much put his hand to just about anything from understanding plumbing, electrics to carpentry. Yes, he is one of those!
My mother also finished her job to commit to the Café, and is most definitely a face to their business that everyone loves, and combined with my enthusiasm, passion and all our undivided commitment to the business we created a successful business that is currently in its 17th year of trading.
Back in 2006, my sister and brother in law were at a crossroads, on deciding whether to go travelling or start up their own business. My mother suggested that if they were to start a business, that she thought that they should be Chocolatiers.
So, that’s exactly what they did. They did a lot of homework, training and travelling to educate themselves on the world of chocolate, kick starting the business in their home kitchen, and the Chocolate House was born!
The business was an immediate success. They frequented many farmers markets on a weekly basis and developed a regular customer base but manufacturing from home soon became too difficult, so they relocated to Bridgend and then to Trefforest Industrial Estate.
In 2016, my mother and I decided to purchase the business to see if we could take it to another level. Between working the Cafés and the Chocolate House, it was difficult, and we were unable to give it the attention the business deserved. It was more of a part time business I suppose.
We knew that for this business to succeed, we needed to relocate again to a more customer friendly location, where we could offer our Chocolate Workshops and be able to have our own chocolate and confectionery shop.
One day, my mother was visiting her parents in Trehafod and thought to herself, “why don’t we see if we can move into the Rhondda Heritage Park Mining Museum?”. It is a fantastic location, and as she was born and bred in Trehafod, there is a definite natural attraction there. As a little girl, she used to go to and visit her grandfather working in the mine and help with his nightly inspections. As a child, I also spent many summers playing in the Park, and I have lots of happy memories there.
In a nutshell, my mother just walked in and asked the Manager if we could move there, and literally within a few months we were in, and we have never looked back!
At the time we were moving in, the Café in the Heritage Park also became vacant and I had the opportunity of occupying it. With all the experience I had, I thought it would be the best thing to do for the survival of the Chocolate House and so I took it on. It was a challenge, but luckily, my hard work, experience and commitment paid off and the café had a great first year.
The Chocolate House has seen hundreds of new customers, and we were able to offer our Chocolate Workshops to groups of 50 school children at a time, adult workshops and seasonal mini children’s chocolate making sessions.
During that first year, my mother also decided to retire from the Chocolate House to focus on the Cafés with my father and so I was going solo. It was a nerve-wracking period for me personally managing both businesses, but it challenged me like never before, and I learnt and am still learning things about myself every day.
I genuinely love growing and exploring new opportunities and the challenge of discovering your capabilities. This growth can most certainly not be achieved without the continuous support of my family and friends, and from our customers who have loyally supported us through the most difficult of times. It is greatly appreciated!
Even through this very uncertain time, my goal remains the same, and that is to make the Chocolate House the destination for all things Chocolate and experiences! Who knows how the business will evolve post pandemic, but I have many exciting plans in the pipe line, but can’t say anything yet, so as they say….watch this space!
I hope everyone stays safe during this time.
Thank you for all your support!