For the many people who long for the wonderful taste of chocolate but their dietary regimes mean it is not an option, Kenyan entrepreneur Jazeera Suwani, founder of Say it with Chocolate, has the answer. She has created a business making fabulous handmade chocolates that specifically cater for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.
LoA found out more from this enterprising artisan chocolate creator.
What does your company do?
At Say it with Chocolate, we make artisan chocolate catering to lactose intolerant and vegan clientele.
"I realised that there was a demand for good quality chocolate especially dairy free ones because of lactose intolerance and foodies like vegans."
What inspired you to start your company?
I myself am lactose intolerant and a chocolate lover, but I could never eat chocolate without having stomach problems.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
It is a highly specialized product with the utmost care and love put into it. I have a product that is not offered to many people out there due to commercialization of chocolate. I make fresh batches each week and it is a totally organic product made of the highest quality cocoa, cocoa butter and unrefined sugar with natural essences.
"I ventured into a series of chocolate bars and !!BOOM!! Say it with Chocolate grew from under my feet and started reaching towards the stars."
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
My father is a business man and my mother an accountant. By profession I am a Physiotherapist. I was a practitioner for 9 years when I decided to venture into something new and different. I had attended a course and thought it would be an interesting venture due to the demand for good chocolate and especially dairy free chocolate. When I started, I had no idea what the market research was, neither did I know if it would work or not. I had a gut instinct and went with it. I had very few believers in my product at that time. I started with small 10g chocolates selling 5 for ksh 200 at the farmer's markets, and it is from these markets that I got my very first break - a corporate order. To say I was over the moon was an understatement. However, I hit a drawback - they wanted boxes and I had no money to purchase the boxes that they wanted. My dad took a chance on me and loaned me the down payment for the boxes, and the owner of the box manufacturing company, Mr Harjinder SIngh, was kind enough to provide with me a payment plan for those boxes. And thus started my journey.
From the little boxes of chocolates, I then decided to venture into chocolate bars and started with 4 types - this was in January 2016. I am now working on up to 52 flavors for the markets. In terms of packaging, I originally had no idea where to source wrapping paper and so I started with wrapping paper from the supermarket and then progressed to different types of wrapping and it is still evolving. I took baby steps, but never stopped. There were times it was hard, difficult and almost seeming impossible, but I had people around me who believed in me and told me to keep going at it. And I still am....
"I am now working on up to 52 flavors for the markets."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Limits are beyond the sky and I will reach there one day.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
The reaction I get from clients when they try my chocolate. It is the best feeling to see their expressions and hear reactions of surprise.
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
You won't know if it will work unless you try, and if you try then there is hope for it to work.
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Why LoA loves it….
Passion drives purpose in the world of entrepreneurship, and in the case of entrepreneur Jazeera Suwani, her passion for creating a high quality chocolate experience for those previously denied the pleasure due to dietary challenges, has led to her finding her niche. Her brand is growing as demand grows, and she is building a loyal following of health conscious chocolate lovers along the way. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa