We sat down with Matakana local and Honest Chocolat founder Emily Bonnaud for a behind the scenes peek into the day in the life of a chocolatier and to find out more about her delightful range of Artisan chocolates (that we're lucky enough to have in store for Easter!).
What sparked the initial idea for Honest Chocolat?
We both love chocolate, and saw a gap in the market for the type of chocolate we wanted to eat ourselves! High quality, amazing tasting chocolate that makes you feel good. We only use ingredients from sustainable and ethical sources. All of our products are gluten free, soy free and our dark chocolates are dairy free.
Was starting your own business something you had been considering for a while?
Yes, since we met 10 years ago we have always dreamt of starting our own business together. Nico has worked as a pastry chef and chocolatier for more than 20 years, and I’m a designer, so we wanted to create a business that combined both of our passions.
What have been the biggest highlights so far?
We were very proud to be named the Supreme Winners of the NZ Chocolate Awards in 2017 for our Salted Caramel and Buckwheat Milk Chocolate Tablet, only 18 months since starting our business! Opening the doors to our first Honest Chocolat shop was a very special achievement for us.
And what have been some of the biggest challenges?
Starting a business from scratch demands a lot of energy and dedication. Before opening our shop, we made all our products from a commercial kitchen we built in our garage! Starting from the ground up meant having to do everything the hard way ourselves, but, we’ve learnt a lot.
What does an average day look like for you at Honest?
The chocolatiers come in at 8am to start on production, and we keep the door open for anyone wanting an early morning hot chocolate. The front of house team arrives at 9am to clean and stock up. Wholesale and online orders get boxed up for sending out, finished products are packaged and visitors to the shop are given tastings throughout the day. Depending on the time of year we are always working on background projects as well, be it new packaging designs, new flavours or finding ways to improve efficiency. Every day is different!
Tell us about your team? How have they contributed to your journey?
We have an amazing small team who are passionate about what they do, and we’re taking on more staff this year to help with the growth of the business, which is really exciting for us.
How do you develop new products? The testing process must be fun!
Introducing a new product is a lengthy but fun process. It’s often a balance between creativity (me) and practicality (Nico)! The most important factor is always taste, so we make lots of samples to get it just right.
Your product and packaging design is really beautiful. What can you tell us about the thought process behind how this was created?
My background is in interior design, so I have a good eye for colour. We wanted to come up with a look that reflects our approach to chocolate making: high quality, beautiful, artisan and simple. We’ve incorporated stripes into our bonbon boxes because Nico is French so we wanted to reference that too.
What drives you?
The feedback and comments from our customers. Putting smiles on people’s faces is the best motivation!
Who Inspires you?
Other small businesses around NZ.
At Huckleberry, shopping locally and seasonally is really important to us, and something we are working to support more and more. Tell us, what does ‘support local’ mean to you?
We’re lucky to have many local and regular customers, that have become part of the Honest Chocolat journey. Support to us can obviously be in the way of buying our product to eat personally or as a gift, but also just coming to say hello in the shop, following us on social media, or telling other people about what we do. It means a lot.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
Remember why you do what you do and believe in yourself!
What’s your favourite Honest Chocolat?
A thick layer of our hazelnut chocolate spread on homemade French crepes.