Chantal Coady founded the British chocolatiers and cocoa growers Rococo Chocolates who are based at Parkhall Business Centre. She started the business soon after graduating from art school in 1983.
Coady has been pivotal in changing the UK chocolate scene, weaning people away from sugary confectionery to single estate dark chocolate. She has worked with the Grenada Chocolate Company to formulate a radically different approach: Tree to Bar. It is meant to add value all the way back to the place where it grows by creating a cocoa micro economy.
Cocoa farmers and village communities benefit directly from this radical business model, where finished bars of chocolate are transported by sail across the oceans instead of cocoa beans. She is the first person to be awarded an OBE for “Services to Chocolate Making” by the Queen in her 2014 Birthday Honours list.
Tell us about yourself
I am married to acupuncturist James Booth and live in Vauxhall, London with two teenagers, an elderly cat and an eight-foot cocoa tree.
How does being a female entrepreneur give you an edge?
I am not sure I would see being female as giving an edge. It's more a different way of seeing the world and, I hope, a softer more intuitive style. I think we should see ourselves as equal and complimentary to men.
What advice would you give to a female entrepreneur?
Build strong and united teams, support them well. It's not always about money but the other things you can do to take the stress out of work-life balance. If they have kids, they will need time off for school stuff, try to be flexible and you will have a loyal and devoted team member, who will go the extra mile for you when you need it.
Always get the best financial advice you can, a good FD will pay for themselves, and up to the minute financials are essential - if you can do this yourself - great - if not buy in! Lead by example as much as you can, there should be no job that you are not prepared to do yourself - I have done every job in my business from cleaning the loos to the VAT returns...
Which female entrepreneur most inspires you?
The late Anita Roddick was a trail blazer, others would be Jo Malone, Liz Earle, Laura Tenison, Martha Lane Fox...
What's the best resource for female entrepreneurs?
This is not specifically for female entreprenuers - but started by an amazing woman Shalini Khemka. Have a look at e2exchange.com.
Club Workspace host Raissa is spearheading the initiative to promote female business owners at Workspace. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.