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Back in 2013 the Barker/Coots were a typical family with two working parents and two teenage children. And, like typical teenagers, the girls Sophie and Jess were always in need of cash for clothes, mobile phone bills and socialising. But unlike the average parents mum Kath and step-dad Peter were determined to find a way to ensure their girls earned some money beyond household chores and other jobs. And what started as an idea on holiday grew into an award-winning business making them our fampreneurs of the month.
Peter is no stranger to setting up and running businesses, having successfully set up his own events company and now working as a Partner in a fast-growth global events business. He was determined to find an opportunity that would help to encourage this entrepreneurial spirit so when on holiday the whole family got talking about possible business ideas. “We wanted to give the girls a hand up as opposed to a hand out,” Peter explained “And I was sure we could find something that would earn them more than the minimum wage and give them an insight into being involved in a business without compromising their studies.”
The family agreed their collective love of chocolate would be a great starting point and set about researching opportunities in confectionary. The trend for personalised products was identified as a robust and growing market and so they settled on exploring whether the niche market of personalised chocolate bars had capacity for a new player.
Since the business required little start-up capital a website was created to test the market. Suppliers in chocolate manufacture and label printing were sourced at competitive rates on flexible terms. This enabled them to initially offer bulk buys of personalised chocolate bars at competitive market rates.
“Initially our calculations were based around supplying orders per box of 100 bars – a great number for weddings, corporate events and business marketing campaigns.” Kath explains “From a sales point of view this made the handling of every order simple and the cost per bar low. But as the business evolved and the processes became more familiar and streamlined, we were able to offer single personalised bars too. That proved to be a good move, not only from a sales point of view but as a way of marketing the product too as many customers who order one bar then go onto place larger orders. And at just £1.80 a bar we are able to undercut the average greetings card!”
Although able to deliver to customers internationally The Chocolate Wrapper focussed its marketing efforts locally in Hertfordshire when it first launched. The quirky new family business was a hit with regional papers, radio stations and national publications including the FSB Magazine all keen to admire the family’s fampreneurial spirit! This was also recognised by the business community when The Chocolate Wrapper won the Chamber of Commerce Award for ‘Best new Business’ in 2014 after a client put it forward.
Since launch the size of orders and reach of the business has grown incredibly. Individual orders in the UK have reached up to £5K for a corporate marketing campaign, customers have been secured all over Europe and The Chocolate Wrapper’s first US order shipped in May 2015.
Peter feels family life has been enhanced by this fun business opportunity. “The fact that we all have a part to play has been great and we fulfil the orders from home and discuss the business as a family. The girls get a share of the profits plus a respectable rate for packing and wrapping the bars providing them with a better hourly rate than many of their friends who work in High Street stores.”
And the orders are growing in number as The Chocolate Wrapper penetrates new markets. “We’ve set up an affiliate scheme,” Sophie says. “which we’re targeting at schools so every order made using their unique voucher code raises funds directly for the school.”
The family have also harnessed the business for good causes and are keen to grow its charitable giving. When a close family friend spent their last days in a local hospice they all pooled resources to raise £6.5K for the charity by setting up and organising ‘The Chocolate Ball’, a Black Tie fundraiser which will now be an annual event with a £10K target for this year’s event in November.
“We’d like to support the charity sector more,” adds Jess, “and we’re exploring opportunities to launch a separate ‘Chocolate for Charity’ website making our personalised chocolate bars available to worthy causes at discounted rates so they can use them to help raise funds at events, outlets and charitable activities too.
Clearly this fampreneur business has made its mark and is going places fast. And it’s proved the case and supported the girls’ initial views when setting up the business that chocolate is clearly good for you!
If you’re interested in getting personalised chocolate bars as gifts or branded bars for promotions or fundraising then visit thechocolatewrapper.co.uk and support BusinessesForSale.com’s fampreneur of the month business.
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