The Fruity Chocolatier: Debbie Noon

Founder Debbie Noon reveals ambitious plans to turn her independent fruit confectionery store into a franchise

Name: Debbie Noon
Age: 47
Company Name: The Fruity Chocolatier
Staff numbers: 2
Location: East Midlands
Date Launched: 15/9/13
Website: www.fruitychocolatier.co.uk/

Tell us what your business does:

We create novelty chocolates including chocolate Daleks, reindeers and sleighs, houses and shoes as well as combinations of chocolate and fruit such as orange lemon and strawberry chocolate. We also make fresh fruit smoothies, milkshakes, cake pops, marshmallow, strawberry and sweet trees, melon carvings and chocolate dipped strawberry bouquets.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Previously, I used to create and supply melon carvings and fruit creations from home. When I decided to go for the shop I wanted a ‘winter’ option and came up with chocolate. I combined the two and hey presto!

How did you know there was a market for it?

We did a lot of research into the types of fresh fruit, smoothies, milkshakes and chocolate that are currently available – as there are already lots of providers we knew it was a marketable area. However, there is currently nothing like our combinations so we’re taking a risk that will hopefully help differentiate us.

What were you doing before starting up?

I worked as a health and safety consultant.

Have you always wanted to run your own business?

Yes!

How did you raise the money?

So far, we’ve funded the business mostly through our own savings, borrowing from family and some from the bank.

What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?

As we are on the outskirts of town the footfall is lower – however we are on a main bus route and busy road so have used visual displays, social media, local media and are considering a small unit in the middle of the city center to drive trade.

Describe your business model and how you make money:

We provide a bespoke service to those looking for something unusual and creative. We have to ensure we sell at a profit so have kept the rent low by being on the outskirts of town.

What was your first big breakthrough?

We’re still waiting for a big breakthrough – however we are running chocolate workshops in the new year so are promoting this for Christmas.

What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?

Everything will take twice as long and cost three times as much as you might initially predict – so try to bear this in mind when you’re planning. Also, borrow as much as you can up front as access to lending dries up once you start trading!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I want to be able to sell my business as a franchise and have already had several people ask me!

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