My Chocolate Coated Life
October 28th 2017 was a significant day in my life & I have had exactly 730 of them since. Planning to open a "pop up shop" took some planning & guts but within 10 days of opening I knew this is where my dream of owning my very own Chocolate Shop would begin.
I remember calling my dad asking if he could pop in to talk about something, he said "I hope you're not thinking what I think you're thinking" he knew me, he knew me better then anyone. Within a week I had resigned from my Practice Managers position & signed a 2 year lease, looking back it was a huge risk but one I knew I had to take, it was a no brainer!
I didn't sleep for weeks from excitement but also doubt, deep in the pit of my stomach I was my biggest fan but also my biggest critic. I learnt from a very young age working for my families chocolate factory that customer service was the super glue to any successful business, a lesson only life experience could teach me & one I was grateful to learn.
I wagged school every chance I could get, dragging my friends along with me. One day dad had enough and within 2 weeks of starting year 11 he said "If you are not going to school you will come and work for me"....fast forward 24 years & here I am.
I have had a colourful career, I have had jobs in the strangest places meeting the most incredible people along the way with the most life changing advice. Did you know I worked for Jenny Craig for a good 5 years, first as a weight loss consultant then managing one of the biggest centres in Australia with over 12 staff, all women, all chocolate lovers, god we had some fun & some hormonal weeks lol. Ironic really I sometimes joke that my products are Jenny Craig approved if only they knew, I still believe its one of the best weight loss programs in the world.
Before and after this time, I worked in Retail, Hospitality, I set up Wheel & Barrow in the NEW Chermside Westfield Shopping Centre over 10 years ago even in the construction faze, oh man that was stressful but I always loved my hard hat :-)
I even managed a resort outside Port Macquarie in NSW for 3 years with no friends, no family just my customers & my dog Sam, that was tough, but I learnt lessons, hard ones, I will never forget that time.
In what ever job I have had its always the same principle, take care of your people & I hope you all feel taken care of when walking into my shop. A customer said to me just yesterday "I love coming in here Mel it feels like an old friend" I just smiled.
If anyone asked me growing up what I wanted to do with my life the answer was always the same " I want to own a chocolate shop" it took me 38 years to finally work out how to make it happen.Never give up!
I get asked a lot what advice would I have for someone thinking of starting a business. As the months go by that advice changes as I learn lessons myself most days but my response remains the same. Be brave, believe in yourself, when people want to put you down let them go low & you go high, use your hammer to build your own business & not to bash down some body else's & focus on your people, staff & customers.
I am happy to say my beautiful little chocolate shop is going stronger then I ever imagined possible, I now employ 5 people & ready to sign another lease. I planned to have a party to celebrate with you all but Christmas happened early and my focus is on getting the shop set up before the silly season hits after Halloween. In saying that though I am super organised this year, as orgainsed as a Royal Wedding!
Its a funny time of year, I want to play Christmas Carols but think its a tad early for Jingle Bells. Within a week our Christmas Window will be complete and every corner of the shop will be full with decorations I have collected since I was a little girl to Toy Soldiers I purchased from Avenells just days ago. My sister Tara thinks if I ever sell Cha Cha I would have enough stuff to open a Christmas Shop, she is right but its the most magical time of the year, I just wished it snowed in Bundaberg.
If only I could thank everyone of you individually for supporting me since the shop has been open I would. I love seeing you & finding out what you are all up to, what you plan to cook for dinner that night, what your favourite flavours are, who you plan to give the chocolates you purchased to, how you found out about us or just to say hello. There have been days even weeks especially in my busiest seasons that I can barely stand from exhaustion but your smiles & comments have filled my jug consistently, thank you!
Thank you to my family, my 2 Mums ( yes they are the two ladies you see giggling behind my counter), my dad who never ceases to amaze me with your support & commitment to my little dream, my sister Tara who thinks I am just as famous as Kim Kardashian & loves to tell everyone "her sister owns the chocolate shop, you are by far my biggest fan, Timmy you have put up with some very long days in my chocolate coated life when most people would have bailed on me thank you, my Christmas miracle little Maegan, my darling Sue from Nathans Shoes next door you have made me laugh like no one ever has especially on some of my darkest days yet, my bookkeeper Jen you are one of my favourite humans, my friends & you all know who you are the ones that know how am I without asking & the ones that love me more than my chocolate.
Thank you to my suppliers, my couriers & especially my local Bundaberg businesses that trust me to love & support you all each day & to teach people just how lucky we are to live here & to enjoy our region through our foods & products. I promise this part of the shop will continue to grow & I ask you all to support them.
So let me finish by saying this Christmas will be the best yet, hard to top last year I know but the products we have coming will excite you, remind you of the good old days, allow you to taste flavours you may never have tried before but to experience products & chocolates from all around the world, it excites me just saying it out loud & its all in our little town of Bundaberg!!!
I wont say it has been easy but I can say it has been a ride I never plan to get off. Not many people can say they are living their dream and because of each and every single one of you, I AM.
Thank you xxx