Friday, 30 November 2012
Tea & a Chat with Kerry from TrufflePiglet
Kerry emailed recently about being interviewed here and I promptly bought something for a Christmas gift. I can't say what it is because I know the person it's intended for sometimes reads this blog, but here's Kerry now - why don't you join us for tea and a chat and we'll find out more about her handmade chocolates...
Look away now if you're on a diet!
Hello! Good to see you, the kettle’s just boiled – what would you like to drink?
Ooh something cold if you don’t mind. Thanks.
So, tell us a bit about yourself and your business.
I’m Kerry and I make chocolates from my home in Leicestershire as TrufflePiglet! I’m in my second year of trading and I sell almost exclusively online. Fairs are a lot of work when you make perishables! I like this though as it makes them more exclusive, you won’t get authentic TrufflePiglet chocolates anywhere else!
What inspired you to start your creative business? How did it all begin?
I already ran one- I used to make resin jewellery as PennyDog but it was making me quite tired. I made chocolates for Christmas gifts in 2010 and it all went from there. I really enjoyed making my own flavours up and learning the science behind balancing sugars, etc for maximum shelf life and the percentage of cream to add to make the difference between a ganache you can cut and dip, and one that has to be piped into a shell.
How has your business changed and developed since it started?
I had to rethink my pricing quite dramatically as personalised chocolate boxes are expensive and don’t hold enough chocolates!
What are the main ways you promote your business? Which methods have been the most successful for you?
Facebook ads work pretty well, as does forum presence. And e-mailing you to ask if I could be on your blog even generated a sale! Honestly, I don’t have a very big budget for this kind of thing. I’ve tried Project Wonderful adverts and some standalone blog banners too but I don’t think any of them were successful. I did a blog giveaway too but that didn’t work out for me but it has previously with my jewellery so I think it’s often luck with those sorts of things.
What’s your workspace like? Can we have a sneak peek?
My workspace is just my normal household kitchen! There’s no real organisation other than I keep my moulds and ingredients separate from the rest of the household food stuff. I also have to have a washing up bowl to keep handwashing separate. The machine on the countertop is a tempering machine which melts the chocolate, then cools it, then raises the temperature just slightly again and creates that perfect tiny crunch you get biting into chocolate.
What are the best and worst bits of running your business?
It was a bit of a pain setting up - I had to do a food safety course and have an assessment of my kitchen by the local council, followed by a bit of to-ing and fro-ing on my labelling with Trading Standards but I think I’m all there now! The best bit is when I get people telling me that my chocolates are the best in the world! Yes I have actually been told that before!
What other small (or not-so-small) creative businesses do you admire?
I admire those who blog as their business. I also like to quilt in my spare time so I read a lot of quilting blogs and I am a bit envious of their sponsorship deals and free fabric, etc! People like Lynne at Lily’sQuilts and Katy at I’m a Ginger Monkey. Product wise though I must give a nod to two real life friends- Laura at Laura’s Jewellery on Etsy and Zara at ZaraEmily on Folksy.
What tips can you give to others who run (or hope to run) a small creative business?
Look into all your legal obligations first. Are you allowed to run a business from home in accordance with your current mortgage/tenancy agreement? Do you need to go on any special courses? Are you registered for tax even if you’re not yet making a profit? It’s best to register- I even got some money back one year which was excellent! Get the boring stuff out of the way first!
What are your hopes, plans or ambitions for the future?
I’m actually in the secret initial stages of starting up a magazine and publishing house, which should release the first issue in May time next year. If the bank manager grants my wish I will actually be closing TrufflePiglet as I won’t have time to continue with it. Shh!
Finally, where are the places we can find you online if we want to partake in a little friendly cyber stalking?
I also have a Sewing blog
Thanks so much for stopping by – it was so nice to be able to take the time to chat with you!
Thank you - I am taking preorders for Christmas until 5th December and your readers might like a free snowman marshmallow lolly? If you spend £5 or more, put one in your shopping basket and put “thesnowman” in the discount code box and it will take off the cost J
If you run a small craft business and would like to be interviewed on this blog, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org