This week entrepreneur Paul Tomlinson talks about how a life-changing moment on holiday led him to start up his own travel-inspired luxury chocolate company.
1) What inspired you to create Cocoa Hernando?
The idea for Cocoa Hernando was concocted following a train journey across India in January 2012. My girlfriend and I were enjoying a wonderful trip across Kerala when I was handed a small cup of steaming masala chai tea. It was an unforgettable moment & it became the one flavour which personified India for me. The chai also soon made me wonder how well these amazing spices would combine with my favourite food, chocolate……
2) What challenges did you face in getting your business off the ground?
I’ve experienced many challenges in starting up, but actually creating the products themselves was definitely the hardest. I had no experience of working professionally in retail or food, so I really did push myself to the limit in trying to create something which I thought was truly different & special.
3) How did you manage the transition from office worker to business owner?
I have been self-employed for a number of years now, so I was relatively prepared for the loss of lots of blood, sweat & tears. However, given the significant transition from digital design to food retail, I’ve had to learn a whole range of new skills – notably patience!
4) How often do you travel overseas and to which countries?
I try to travel abroad as much as I can, but getting away is now much harder with Cocoa Hernando. Our last trip was to wonderful Morocco in October, which will always be the best quick escape to another world!
5) Which countries do you most enjoying working with?
I enjoy working with any country which is rich in flavours & culture!
6) How do you decide on the flavours for each of your chocolate bars?
Firstly, I research & try lots of exciting & interesting flavours which I think might complement chocolate. I’ll then see if I can connect these flavours to interesting locations. I’ll then find some lucky guinea pigs to taste the recipes before committing to a flavour.
7) What has been your greatest success to date?
I’d definitely say receiving orders from department stores within a few months of launching Cocoa Hernando. Our bars are now stocked in Harvey Nichols & will soon be appearing in Selfridges.
8) Are there any other countries that you would like to expand into?
I currently have a shortlist of flavours & countries which will hopefully form our next range of bars. Watch this space!
9) What’s your personal favourite from the Cocoa Hernando range?
Good question! My favourite does tend to change, however I’ll say it’s currently the India bar!
10) What countries are still on your wish list for holidays?
There’s too many to mention. However, since I’ve just finished reading the Beautiful old Man & the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, Cuba is now top of the list!
What was your most memorable taste experience on holiday?
Our favourite comment wins a FREE pair of tickets for a tour of London’s old Chocolate Houses (worth £30.00) on Saturday 15th March 2014. (Please see our Competitions page for full terms and conditions). Deadline for comments: Monday 3rd March 2014