Meet Steffi Smith, The North East Chocolatier
After being made redundant from her chocolatier job, Steffi decided to launch her own chocolate business from her kitchen in Pegswood at the age of 22
Tell us how The Chocolate Smiths started.
I was made redundant from my job as a chocolatier for a really small company in Morpeth so I knew a bit about the basics of chocolate and I was actually planning on leaving the company anyway to start the business, so luckily I had everything already planned out. I started making chocolate initially from my kitchen, and then got into Tynemouth market and shops like Fenwick and little independent stores up and down the country. It was around the time when high street shops weren’t doing so well and The Chocolate Smiths began to decline. I was at a crossroads as to whether to continue but I knew I didn’t want to do anything else with my life, so I started pushing social media and online and it just seemed to all click.
You collaborate with other small businesses, tell us about that process.
Initially I started doing collaboration bars when a food blogger mentioned a company called The Cookie Mill who do deep dish cookies and suggested we collaborated with them. I thought it would make a cool addition, so they were the first people we approached. I’m really passionate about supporting small businesses and the collaboration bars allow us to put another business’s product into a mammoth chocolate bar and the label has the story of their business on as well. They have have gained loads of traction on social media – especially because they’re limited edition.
What are you most proud of?
Selling handmade products online is much more profitable than selling to retailers, and so I really wanted to create a working environment where my employees could come into work every day and just love what they do and be excited to come to work, and not have that Monday morning dread. No matter how big The Chocolate Smiths gets, I want that idea to filter through the whole company so I hold my head up high and say that I provide a decent lifestyle for people.
What are your visions for the future?
To create loads more collaboration bars, subscription boxes and advent calendars. The big plan is to buy our own premises and be able to have a real life chocolate factory – The Chocolate Smiths take on Willy Wonka!
How do you like to spend your downtime?
I spend a lot of time with my children and I also eat a lot – I love dining out and trying new foodie places. I also like to play a bit of guitar and piano.
How do you feel about the North East?
Proud. I think we’re all very proud to live where we live. I’m personally very proud of the whole foodie community as well, it’s really come along so much especially in the past couple of years – I’m just really proud to be from here.