Meet Vanessa and her delicious coconut confectionary brand Coco Gourmand!

My name is Vanessa and I’ve got a company called Coco Gourmand, which is a confectionary company that manufactures coconut based sweets that are suitable for people with dietary restrictions. I’ve currently got three products in the range, dairy free, vegan coconut fudge, vegan, gluten free coconut drops which won the great taste award in 2013, and a gluten free coconut brittle – it won a great taste award in 2014. I make them all at home.

What made me pursue this is the interest received from the customers that come to my food events. I run pop up cooking classes and the interest that the students showed in these products made me explore the possibility of actually manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing them.

In five years time I would like Coco Gourmand to be sold. I would like it to be in the hands of someone who is capable of making it very, very, very big. I only have my limits and I think even if I hire people, it’s something that I started that stemmed from other things that I’m doing with regards to the food experiences, so I would want it to be in the capable hands of someone that could take it to the next level and maybe take it globally, take it to the rest of Europe and maybe beyond Europe. Ultimately what I want is for coco gourmand to be big but not necessarily with me involved.

What is the best thing about starting your own business?

I think the best bit’s are people are actually tasting the products and liking them. I think that’s very rewarding because it is a recipe that I created myself. To produce something that comes from your own mind, for it to win awards and for people to kind of taste it and for them to kind of light up as soon as you see them eat it, I think that’s quite nice because that’s the biggest reward and ultimately that’s why you do it. You do it for people to enjoy it.

What are some of the struggles you’ve faced?

So far I’ve struggled with coping with the demand, and being a one-woman band. I’ve been on my own multi-tasking and doing pretty much everything from product sourcing to actual manufacturing, packaging, organising shipping, promoting, online sales, partnerships, going in shops and actually making drops and making sales calls, social media – so I’ve basically been doing everything and that is a hurdle because obviously when you’re energy and resources are spread across so many things at the same time you’re not very efficient. I do receive help from family and friends, but y I do not make enough money to hire someone to support me in actually operating the business so scalability in the last 12 months was a big, big problem, a big issue. And obviously margins, because the production costs are high based on the fact that it’s such small scale.

If you could have any enterprise related super power what would it be?

I think the super power I’d ultimately like to have is to be able to do what I want and it be profitable without me feeling that it’s strenuous or that it’s hard. I would want to kind of be able to cope with everything and do everything and not feel it and just having the enjoyment, not having the hurdles. To be resilient, completely resilient to any of the difficulties involved in running a business and to enjoy it.

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