For Chelsea Parsons, leaving the corporate world after ten years wasn’t easy. The entrepreneur admitted to Business Advice it took a lot of determination to take the leap in 2015.
In less than a year though, her range of dairy, refined sugar and gluten-free chocolate has gone from pop-up obscurity to being stocked in 50 independent cafes and retailers, as well as Planet Organic supermarkets and online retailer Not on the High Street.
Parsons expects her exciting new brand Well + Happy to turnover £150,000 this year.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m Chelsea Parsons, founder of Well + Happy. We create the ultimate guilt-free indulgences through chocolate.
Our chocolate is free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar – but not free from tasting and looking incredible. Born from a love of sweet things and studies in nutrition, I wanted to create something better for people to indulge in.
(2) How long have you been around for?
I started the brand 18 months ago and we’ve been rapidly growing ever since. Initially we were planning to open a cafe, but after testing the products in a pop-up, the chocolates just took off, so we decided to listen to our consumers and go from there! From starting in my home kitchen, to now having a production team – we’ve come a long way in under 12 months.
(3) How do you make money?
Our chocolate bars are stocked in a wide range of retailers, juice bars, fitness studios and cafes across the UK, as well as selling chocolate boxes and bars online via our webshop, Not on the High Street and Yumbles.
We also commission chocolate inspired canapés for events, press days and even weddings, as well as consulting on all things chocolate.
(4) What makes you different and why should people take notice?
We’re different because we’re all about creating something which is better for your body, your mind and the planet – as well as being beautiful too. People eat with their eyes first – so creating something which is a feast for both our eyesight and our tummies was important to us. But for us it’s not just chocolate, we’re about creating moments of happiness you deserve to indulge in.
(5) What was key in terms of getting started?
Getting started largely required a lot of guts on my part. Leaping into the startup world after being in the corporate arena for ten years seemed pretty crazy and sometimes scary, and some may say stupid.
Once I’d taken the leap, the real key for me, was meeting as many people in the industry as possible – networking, building contacts and asking questions. The food industry is one of the most collaborative and supportive industries and it’s been incredible to listen and learn from others. Without asking questions and for advice and support, I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today.
(6) What’s your biggest achievement to date?
There have been so many highs and I try to celebrate all of the wins – especially because the weeks fly past. An awesome achievement was when we started stocking with Planet Organic stores across London. We then successfully overfunded on a crowdfunding campaign, which was incredible, closely followed by growing the team and expanding our operation.
(7) What setbacks have you had along the way?
Oh so many. The biggest setback we had this year was the ridiculously hot summer we experienced, which despite air conditioning, we struggled to maintain temperature control. As you can imagine… hot weather and chocolate doesn’t always go well together.
(8) In five years’ time, I will be…
I’d love to be creating other products and other businesses, which also sit within the “better for you” category. It’s definitely the way the world is going now.
I also think the startup world is growing bigger and stronger than ever before, so I’d love to spend some time giving back to the space I started in by helping other businesses grow.
(9) What one tip would you give to others starting out?
Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, ask for help, advice and get networking. It’s something I used to loathe doing in the corporate world, but now I’m in an industry I love – it’s such great fun and I’ve met some incredible and lifelong friends from it all.
(10) Who are your business heroes and why?
My business heroes are anyone who lives and breathes their brand, I love seeing empowering innovators – especially in the food space. Brands who really own their identities such as Innocent, Vita Coco and What-a-Melon are super inspiring to me.
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