“Better late than never” is an expression I live by in life! For things like blogging, it kind of works. For other more mundane things like handing in reports or paying off witnesses, it doesn’t, trust me! The last six months have been incredibly busy but for all you doubting Thomases ( is that the plural of Thomas?) out there, I’ve actually been more entrepreneurial than ever…I’ve just not written about it!
Back in November, I took part in a free weekend event called Unipreneur which was set up by former Manchester graduate Nikolay Piryankov, CEO and Founder of Rare Pink – Bespoke Engagement Rings, a company who provide custom-designed engagement rings & fine diamond jewellery. The aim of the event was to prove that you can set up a business whilst University and Nik constantly encouraged us to consider it as a viable option. We came together to form small groups, discussed business ideas and then spent the rest of the weekend coming up with a marketing campaign and a business plan which we then presented to a panel on the Sunday night. I’m delighted to say that my team won with our idea StudyJam, an online platform for improving your studies by playing against your friends at your specific subject. We’ve subsequently been given some funding by the University of Manchester, so watch this space…
But enough about that, what you really want is an interview, isn’t it? Well, you’re in luck!
When I was last back in Aberdeen, some five months ago, I met up with a friend at Cocoa Ooze’s shop on Belmont Street. He had promised me that the hot chocolate served there was delicious and having sampled a white chocolate variation, I wouldn’t disagree! I was really impressed with the quality of both the chocolate and the brand of Cocoa Ooze and having read a little about Jamie Hutcheon, the company’s founder, I decided to get in contact with him and interview him for the blog.
Jamie, it’s lovely to meet you! So, what’s the story behind Cocoa Ooze?
I created Cocoa Ooze in 2008 when I was just 17. I started by making luxury handmade chocolate products in my mother’s kitchen and I soon realised their potential and so I opened up my first shop in 2011. After a very successful two years in the first shop, my team and I embarked on a new challenge and opened a second shop in the city centre of Aberdeen.
The company has grown from a team of 2 to 25 and caters to retail, wholesale and corporate markets as well as running chocolate-making workshops and children’s parties.
What’s your favourite chocolate?
My favourite chocolate is our milk chocolate and honeycomb bar. Like many of our products, the flavour is simple but done well. We don’t like to over complicate our products. Instead we focus on providing a select range of delicious chocolates that we know our customers love.
Who was/is your business inspiration?
My parents have always been an inspiration to me. My father owns his own company and although they have always left the final decision to me, they are always there to offer support and advice. They encouraged me to leave the comfort of a full-time job to grow Cocoa Ooze into what it is today as they realised its potential.
What’s your business ethos/motto?
We are very honest within our business, both amongst each other and with customers and suppliers. We encourage open communication in order to resolve any issues but to take advantage of all opportunities around us. This policy stems from the strong family values I uphold within my business. As the business is family run, I encourage my whole team to treat each other like an extended family.
What next for Cocoa Ooze?
Having just launched our brand new e-commerce website, we hope to grow the online market in order to spread the word of Cocoa Ooze.
Most important advice for young people wanting to start a business?
Do not be afraid to ask questions! I have never been afraid to question people and it has helped me learn more and more throughout the years. It can be daunting when you are young to speak up but it is often surprising how eager some people are to help you out.
Thanks to Jamie for that sweet interview (I really couldn’t resist) and if you’re in Aberdeen then make sure you pop into the shop as I can guarantee, you won’t be disappointed! And here’s a promise…it won’t be six months until you hear from me again! Probably…