Rise of food entrepreneurs working from home

PUBLISHED: 16:40 18 December 2014 | UPDATED: 16:40 18 December 2014

Henley Chocolates

Henley Chocolates

Archant

Anna Rose: I’m sure most will admit to a bit of indulgent daydreaming, when from time to time, especially when stuck in rush-hour traffic, thoughts drift into themes such as “wouldn’t it be nice to work from home, where you are your own boss - with no road congestion to deal with.”

For some, however, this has become a reality. When circumstances change in life and you are forced to re-evaluate your career or have a change in family circumstance, options that were previously implausible become possible.

Reports show that in recent recessional times, the number of ‘home businesses’ increased as a way of allowing people to still have an income whilst multi-tasking family pressures such as child or elderly dependent care.

So once the decision to work from home is made, next question is “to do what?” Unless you have a transferrable skill that would lend itself successfully to running as a business from home, very often people choose a profession that is totally detached from their previous occupation and for some, it offers a chance for re-invention of one’s self.

The food sector is one that has seen a sharp rise in entrepreneurs and just by walking around a local food fayre or farmer’s market it testifies the number of businesses operating on an independent level, reacting to the demand for local, sustainable, bespoke and niche offerings.

Local Warwickshire business, Henley Chocolates, has encompassed all of the above since trading began for them in 2012. Husband and wife team, Sally and Luke Daniel, recognised that the chocolate market has changed considerably over the past few years and they wanted to supply consumers with a product range that met people’s changing tastes.

On a global scale, demand for chocolate has increased, namely from countries such as China, and in turn, this has had an impact on elements such as the price of raw chocolate ingredients. On a local level, consumers are looking for gift ideas and/or eating experiences that they haven’t encountered before. Flavours and ingredient combinations have become just as important as the actual chocolate itself, with more daring and unusual pairings being exceptionally en vogue right now. With regard to the chocolate base itself, chocolate made using beans from only one particular region has proved increasingly popular for chocolate connoisseurs. he beans used from a single region when fermented and roasted have a more distinct and sharper taste than chocolate made from different sources. This point, coupled with the fact that people are more consciously championing ethically traded food and environmental sustainability, links back to how local businesses can maximise this factor and can manipulate their offering accordingly.

The Henley Chocolates business has grown in the short time of trading and whilst commencing from the realms of the Daniels’ kitchen table, they now have a purpose-fitted chocolate workshop in an annex to the family home and the firm has risen to limited company status with 5 employees.

Sally comments how the flexibility of the business allows her to manage her son’s childcare arrangements and still ensures she can attend food exhibitions and events to promote the business yet still work on developing a rolling repertoire of flavours for the range. Sold through local Warwickshire shops as well as online, Henley Chocolates also work on commissions for special occasions, weddings and corporate events.

Undoubtedly, this way of working is on the increase and whilst it may not suit everyone, it certainly offers the likes of the Daniels’ an opportunity to honour their family commitments and in unison also run a successful business.

So take stock, next time you walk around a farmer’s market, it may give you inspiration to think of a trade you can start yourself, which you can do with a little bit of passion, and all from the comfort of your own home.

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For more from Anna, visit her blog ‘Word In Veg Ways’

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