How about some chocolate made in Kenya?
Ruweidha Khalid is a chocolatier, she makes a chocolate brand called Choco Bliss by Rurus. The biggest challenge her business faces is to convince potential customers that hers is a made-in-Kenya brand, people assume that she imports or buys them from the supermarket then repackages them for sale. Another is competition from popular brands. Her agenda was clear when she went into business – to curve a niche for herself, she would make personalised chocolates.
“I wanted to create something personal. When someone gifts you a bar of chocolate, it means that they like you or they want you to feel good. Imagine how they would feel having their name on the chocolate?,” she begins.
On Valentine’s Day this year, she took the opportunity of the high demand for chocolates in this season to make her first commercial chocolates.
“I had made a few flavours earlier for the sake of learning and fun and was improving by the day. I would read recipe books on the internet and also watch videos of people making chocolates,” she adds.
She would then post her creations on various WhatsApp groups and on her Instagram account, which turned out to be a great marketing move. She has since created an Instagram business page for her business, Choco Bliss, by Rurus, her brand name and name of the chocolates. This channel acts as a catalogue for her business.
She first started selling to her friends, with her business growing through referrals.
“I make it a simple process but involve the customer right from selection of the wrapper, the design, and finally the flavour of the chocolate,” Ruweidha explains.
Her business has expanded, and now she makes chocolates for weddings, birthdays, graduation parties, or personal gifts to the sick.
Chocolates are made with sugar, milk, cocoa and other flavourings depending on the type, but like all other chocolatiers, Ruweidha has secret recipes that make her chocolates stand out. The mother of two says her dream to make chocolates was a long-running one, one that was hastened by the pandemic.
“Many people have become depressed and are going through various challenges as we battle the virus, I thought chocolate is a product that would make someone feel good and put a smile on their face,” she explains.
She makes over 12 flavours, including caramel, strawberry, coffee, cereal, peanut butter, nuts and fruits.
Investing Sh35,000 at the onset of her business, her tools of trade are a fridge, which is essential for her work, and boxes and wrappers, which are made for her by a couple of stay-at-home mums that her business supports. Most of the ingredients are sourced locally and are available in supermarkets and Marikiti Market in Mombasa.
It takes her one to two days to make a batch of chocolate, though the time taken depends on how big the order is. Weather is a big factor in her business because when it is too hot, the chocolate starts melting before delivery.
They cost between Sh150 a bar to Sh750 depending on the packaging. A customised package of at least 20 mini bars costs Sh1,000. To increase her sales, she has gone out of her way to do business with corporates marking special occasions. In this case, she makes gift boxes, desserts for parties and other customised chocolates.
She explains that her business is not seasonal, since occasions such as baby showers and birthdays take place all year round.
The business has now become a family affair. When orders are many, and she has to make more than 200 packets of chocolate, say for a wedding, her family helps with the wrapping and packaging.
The dream she has for her company is to move from her kitchen and have a shop where she will display her different flavours of chocolate. She is also working towards having her chocolate stocked in various supermarkets.