Today we are introducing you to the owner of Chocolate On Purpose, a small business selling an original and unique fusion of chocolate & Australian native botanical-based aromatics.
Fiona is an Aromatherapist and is interested in the impact that plant essence can have on people’s wellbeing. As an Indigenous woman, she is passionate about sharing the superfood power of traditional Indigenous bushfoods. Fiona’s business idea for Chocolate on Purpose is to use chocolate as a vehicle to share her knowledge of Australian bushfoods.
“Garry, my Many Rivers business coach, supported me to plan my business with the Many Rivers business plan. It was really concise, and it helped me really set strong foundations for my business. It was not like other business plans I have tried in the past that were very overwhelming.”
Read more about Fiona’s business journey with Chocolate on Purpose.
I was an Aromatherapist and that is where I met my good friend Jo. We share a passion about what plant essences can do for wellbeing. This is how I became interested in sharing bushfood and how Chocolates on Purpose came about.
Going into business is the best opportunity to create a platform for you to become a change maker. In your own business, you are the one that calls the shots and you can create the change you want to see.
Chocolate on Purpose came to be in 2013. I always had the mission and vision to share the superfood power of our Australian native botanical, so that Indigenous people are respected for our wisdom and honoured for our culture.
Chocolate is a vehicle that I use to share the bushfoods. That is why my business is called Chocolate on Purpose – I have a purpose. I am using the chocolate to share the bushfood and their benefits. There are so many new ideas that I have which I cannot do until I get a premise.
My good friend Jo is a retiree and she volunteers for Chocolate on Purpose because she loves it. Jo said that my “mission is amazing and I love the vision of Chocolate on Purpose. I just want to support that and see The First Nations Peoples be acknowledged for their knowledge. I get paid in chocolate.”
Business Journey of Chocolate on Purpose
There was a big impact to my region from the bushfires and COVID-19 in 2020. This area wasn’t directly impacted by the bushfires but they closed the roads from Sydney which meant we had less travellers. Then during COVID-19 people stopped travelling too. I had to pivot my business plan.
It was a lot of work going to farmers markets every week. COVID-19 made me take a different angle to get sales by forcing us to go online. My good friend Jo loves techy stuff and so she put me online and I started connecting with people on social media. My online shopping cart went crazy. A lot of people and corporates wanted to support small businesses effected by bushfires, and then support black businesses during #blacklivesmatter movement.
I started to see that I had something happening here. That was when I connected with Garry, my Many Rivers business coach. I work from home now and there is a lot more time for me to work in the business.
I engage with Indigenous contractors and businesses when I can, for example the graphic designer of my new branding.
Working with Many Rivers
Just knowing that my business coach checks in on me to provide support is a big thing. It can be lonely operating your own business. Garry checking up on me is a form of accountability. When he checks in, it helps me regroup and make sure that I am getting things done.
When I first connected with him, he was really great at supporting me to look at the journey with baby steps.
He supported me to plan the business with the Many Rivers business plan. It was really concise, and it helped me really set strong foundations. Some of the other business plans I have tried in the past were very overwhelming.
The most important part of Garry’s support was definitely the Many Rivers micro-loan. It went towards getting some of the equipment that I needed and also assisted with the cost of the rebranding I have recently completed.
My biggest challenge is machinery. It was really hard to develop enough income to put it back into the business. Chocolate is expensive to produce. I struggle to afford machinery. It was very repetitive to make it manually with a ladle and it is wearing on your body. Thanks to the connections that I made at Yarpa Hub I got a really big order that meant that I could purchase a piece of machinery which revolutionised production for Christmas. Through Garry, I was able to get other pieces of equipment too. This meant that I could be more efficient and improve the quality of my chocolate. For example my Mother’s Day range this year has details on it which says, “I love you”. Previously, I could not manually shake the chocolate mould enough to get all the air bubbles out. Now I have a mechanical vibrating table that ensures that the chocolate is perfectly formed. This has allowed me to widen my product range and even the original chocolate pieces look better now that they don’t have little air pockets.
Getting in page two and three of the Sydney Morning Herald was a pretty big thing. I live in a little village and my local art gallery stocks the chocolate. Someone from Sydney came and asked where my chocolate was because they read about it in the Sydney Morning Herald and they had come to have some. It was something I never expected to experience.
The other big success I have had recently is that I now have five places across Australia that stock my chocolate. It used to just be one. Doing wholesaling was never part of my business plan but having these retailers reach out to me and ask me to have stock in their store has been a game changer.
It is really easy for the lines between home and work to blur. But I feel like I have a lot more choice even though there is a lot more to do. Having a choice is liberating.
Future Goals for Chocolate on Purpose
I would like to have more corporate orders. The website orders are great but they are a lot more work because you don’t know what people are going to order. The corporates put in bigger orders and I find that this a more efficient use of my time. I would also like to get into corporate hospitality. For example they put a biscuit next to their cup of coffee, I would like to see my chocolate being served with the coffees. I would also like to get a premises and continue to increase my machinery so that I can continue to become more efficient and bring on more staff.
Eventually I would like to grow to become an Indigenous employer of choice. I would love to give back to the community and to be a role model. For every Indigenous business that is a success, it chips a little bit off that stereotype that Indigenous people are losers or are not capable. I hope to build a business that can stand in the Australian business landscape and take a massive chip off this stereotype, employ Indigenous people and show that there are many ways to be successful.
Stay updated with Fiona’s business journey by following Chocolate on Purpose on Facebook. We love to encourage more people to take the first step towards kick starting their small businesses ideas.