Chococo is 18 years old today!
Co-founder Claire here to say that we are celebrating our 18th Birthday today...we are officially grown up! Andy & I decided that this auspicious date called for a speedy hot chocolate in our original Swanage chocolate house this morning, before going back to work!
We first opened our door of Chococo, the Purbeck Chocolate Co. on 5th December 2002 in a back street in the seaside town of Swanage in Purbeck, Dorset and what a roller coaster of a ride these past 18 years have been. When we first opened our tiny chocolate kitchen was on the ground floor and our shop was upstairs - how bonkers is that! As it was just Andy & me doing everything, we were only open 3 afternoons a week too to give us time to make and pack our fresh chocolates to sell.
By the way, if you are wondering where 'Purbeck' is, it is known as the 'Isle of Purbeck', but we are not really an island, in the South East corner of Dorset south of Poole harbour and if you haven't visited yet, put it on your bucket list! We have blue flag beaches, Old Harry rocks, the South Coast path, amazing views, ancient villages, Corfe and Lulworth Castles and of course the glorious world heritage Jurassic Coast which starts at Old Harry Rocks and runs along to East Devon & includes such famous sights as Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.
We are very proud to have built our business here and celebrate the best of local food & drink in the flavours of our chocolates, something we have done since we started all those years ago - working with local produce and making truly fresh chocolates with no preservatives is part of our DNA. We have also worked with the finest origin chocolate since launch too - when we started we only worked with chocolate from Venezuela, now we also work with Raisetrade chocolate from Madagascar and Colombia and many other origins.
Things here at Chococo are a bit different today from 18 years ago. We have our nationwide mail order service via our website and 4 Chocolate Houses, so called as they integrate a shop & cafe, in Swanage, Winchester (which is #2 and is celebrating its 7th birthday tomorrow!), Exeter & Horsham. Our HQ is in Wareham, just 10 miles from Swanage where we still make, pack & despatch all our fine chocolates by hand.
We are very proud of our fantastic team at HQ & all our Chocolate Houses, who have risen so magnifcently to all the challenges that this year especially has thrown at them and are still smiling and giving it their all - we are working as hard as we safely can to keep up with demand online, but please be aware that we are still a small team!
We are also very proud to be officially delicious as, with our latest international chocolate awards wins last month, we have now won 100 national & international fine food awards since we first started entering awards back in 2003.
So on this Small Business Saturday, this small business would like to say a HUGE THANKYOU to all our customers, fellow local artisan food and drink producers who we have worked with over the years, and friends for all your support. We hope we can continue to delight you our wonderful customers with Chococo chocolates and experiences in the future and we are thinking positive about the future as an officially grown-up business!
And finally, if any of you are wondering, yes we both still love chocolate and eat it at some point every day!