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Mid May Madness 🤪

What happens to a chocolate business going into summer?

Starting Catherine’s Originals at 18, almost 19, was a completely new experience. I never once thought about the summer months. I only wanted to create good, tasty, and fair chocolates to enjoy at Christmas.

Now, at 22, with a factory running full steam ahead, I realise we’ve been operating for nearly seven months, and it finally feels like a real business. It’s almost like starting all over again, going into summer. As I steer this ship forward, I constantly worry, "Will they all melt?" or "Do people even buy chocolates in the summer?" Even though, in my family, we most certainly do. We all know what I am talking about, the one side of your brain that will tap your head causing you to doubt and question yourself.

Growing up, I was fortunate to go on some incredible family holidays (my parents believed travelling was a crucial part of our education). One trip in particular stands out. I told my Year 7 teacher, "I’m missing school to go to Borneo next week Miss." She responded, "I think you mean Bournemouth, Catherine" (in hindsight, telling a teacher I was skipping school for a holiday, educational or not, probably wasn’t the smartest move). It was also my first year being vegan. Chocolate was always the hardest thing to give up. As soon as we landed at Kota Kinabalu airport, my two older brothers headed straight for the local equivalent of WHSmith, stocking up on Cadburys and Nestle treats for our two weeks in the wilderness, where finding more chocolate was highly unlikely. I wasn’t too bothered at first, but a few days into the trip, I craved chocolate. Unfortunately, as much as Mum hoped, a mixed fruit cup of mango and papaya wasn’t enough. Dragging my family around that night, we marched around looking for any plant-based sweet treat that wasn’t fruit. I ended up munching on some lychee-like things.

Remembering that story now, running a vegan chocolate factory reminds me that chocolate is an all-year-round essential, for everyone.

It may be on a sweaty hike, needing a pick-me-up chocolate button, or curled up on the sofa after a long day, sharing a selection box with your partner which is crisp from the fridge. Chocolate is enjoyed year-round for all sorts of occasions. That’s what makes it so magical compared to other sweets and foods.

Since January, Catherine’s Originals has grown by 30% each month! I hadn’t realised this until our last board meeting (I now understand the importance of checking these numbers regularly). After re-evaluating the production plan for the year, Jamie and I concluded, that we need to start maxing out production for the rest of the year, despite thinking we’re going to be able to slow it down in summer. Because surprise… we all love chocolate, all year round!

Our delightful and bright Wonky Buttons are still steadily being enjoyed, and despite running out of our full year’s stock in two weeks, we’re making time to prioritise them in the factory alongside our vegan selection box, as they are simply in high demand!

It’s crazy to think that our current factory and team of seven are maxed out, and we only have two products! With all the ideas in the pipeline, I’m starting to think we may need to scale up next year!

With our world’s first vegan Quality Street equivalent and the UK’s first mixed-filled button bag, I’m beginning to wonder just how busy things are going to get…

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