Calling all chocolate fans – we caught up with Choccywoccydoodah‘s Creative Director, Christine Taylor, for a quick chat about the sweet life of running a successful chocolate business…
What inspired you to start the business?
A love of chocolate, a bottle of gin and an unwanted empty shop that we found ourselves the owners of. The name ‘Choccywoccydoodah’ appeared to us at the bottom of the bottle of gin, when we were consoling ourselves about having taken on a shop that we couldn’t use to extend our cafe. Drunk and hungry, we wanted (needed) chocolate. The idea still seemed pretty good in the sober cold light of day and here we are.
What does a typical day involve for you?
At 6am, I usually lay in bed, look at emails and send out responses. 7amish I’m up, washed and polished, walking my dogs across the downs.
By 8.30ish I either head into my own office or to the train station to visit my London shop. Sometimes I spend the day at the Brighton shop, or visit our chocolatiers and cake makers in our studio.
I have five work sites and hate routine, so I don’t stick to one. When I arrive I drink a lot of black coffee and then I am civil. I talk to customers, design cakes for specific events, I check our merchandising and displays.
I design our products, work with our production teams and do my best to ensure that both our shops provide an experience, create a memory, for our customers. I talk to my teams, unravel the issues and complications that may have arisen, make sure that I’m up to date with everyone.
The business closes at 7pm and all staff go home. I usually work on until 8pm or so and then watch TV, or go out for dinner. Sometimes I give talks, so the evening is dedicated to that. I enjoy Twitter and run the company account, so I occasionally run a competition which can end up taking over my whole evening.
I’m working on a new book, so that’s always in the background. If we are making television, I do everything as above, but quite often twice for the cameraman!
How did the shop become involved with the TV show?
We were approached by several TV production companies within a matter of weeks to make a show. We were happy to show off in front of a camera and it went from there.
Do you have a favourite episode and why?
No, I don’t. We all fell in love with certain customers and certain commissions, but we don’t have favourites. Well, we do – but we are not saying.
On average, how long does it take to make each cake?
It depends on the level of decoration. Some cakes take hours, some take days and the more ambitious projects can take weeks.
Have you had any personal favourite creations?
My favourite creations are always the ones we have yet to make. Then when they are made, I’m over them.
Tell us more about your culinary background…
There’s not much to tell. I like chocolate and I like cake. Most of us are trained artists that work on the elaborate creations, we have simply learnt to use chocolate as our medium. We use a very good quality chocolate so that our art is delicious. Our customers get it, want to be a part of it and enjoy eating it.
I am self-taught, I passed my skills on, we now train our own chocolatiers to our own, unique standards. We have no machinery, everything is made by hand and wrapped by hand. Over the course of 20 odd years I have become an expert in my field and recognise that our skills are unique to us. Chocolate – for me – is like witch craft, you can either work it, or you can’t.
What has been your most unusual request?
I think our own whims and desires outstrip anything that we’ve had requested. We constantly push boundaries with the scale of what we do, developing techniques and staying ahead of our imitators.
Do you have any role models?
Jean Paul Gaultier. Marvellous man whose career I’ve watched for decades. I also admire the Timpsons family, who demonstrate that business should be about the people in it, not spreadsheets. So… fashion and key cutting!
If you had to change career, which job would you choose and why?
I still think that one day I might have to get a proper job. My first career was a designer and I wouldn’t mind going back to that. Or focussing on illustration for books – or perhaps writing books.
What can customers expect from the brand for Easter this year?
We have two collections of eggs this year that are on display. In Brighton we have the Duck family. 4 eggs, the largest of which weighs over 100 kilos. The smallest weighs 40 kilos. In London we have the Hare family, 3 eggs, again weighing over 100 kilos, 60 kilos and 40 kilos.
The eggs can be privately commissioned – we require 28 days notice – and of course, they will be personalised. Price upon application, but be warned – there won’t be much change from £50k.
Do you have any tips for buying Easter eggs/gifts?
Obviously… they have to be chocolate!
To find out more about Christine and ChoccyWoccyDooDah, click here.