Amelia Rope speaks with Wild Wood London about setting up her successful business Amelia Rope Chocolate, bespoke commissions and launching her new branding this September.
Tell me about your background and starting Amelia Rope chocolate?
How long do you all have …? I think if I was looking for a job now and listing all my jobs and deviations it would read like a mini novel! In brief, I didn’t get the chance to go to university, if I did I would have aimed for the law, fashion designer or an endocrinologist. That really sums up how many different facets I have … a melange which can make things complicated. My jobs included being a PA for 10 years (very good training for when you run your own business), a massage therapist until I broke both my arms in a bike accident, an aromatherapist, a practice manager of an NHS/private practice. Training included secretarial (on a typewriter!), herbal medicine, nutrition and aromatherapy (including a 6 month cancer care course) and 5 day ‘Bonbons’ course at Valrhona. All of this, and a little bit more, led me to founding Amelia Rope Chocolate.
The trigger point came after competing on ‘Masterchef’ twice, an off-the-cuff comment by a top Food Editor after they tasted one of my handmade truffles and the mind-blowing press response when I dropped off my unique chocolate dipped crystallised flora (rose petals, pansies, violas and mint leaves) back in 2007 and a commission by Patrick Reeves (co-founder sofa.com) for a chocolate bar. The bars were to be my first product to market and I was extremely lucky to get into Selfridges. This year is my 10th year … I have learnt more than any degree course. It’s been a tough journey, at the time I was a rarity being a woman running her own business. I am not married but I think it is a similar relationship – at times I love it, at times I crave change and at times I go into mediation for more balance. But it has stuck with me through thick and thin. Mainly thanks to all the amazing inspirations who have held my hand and reminded me to laugh and lighten up when I needed it.
How do you decide on the new flavours? I am obsessed with the rose flavour!
Ahh rose – a customer once described it as being like a ‘Whisper to Persia’. What I strive for when I create new flavours is the all important end note … wherever your taste buds discover the flavour (whether at the beginning of the chocolate chunk, middle or at the end) the flavour should be left lingering on your palette at the end. The end note must be ‘clean’.
Having been around 2 1/2 stone heavier than I am now, (in my teens and early 20’s) I discovered that to lose weight and maintain weight wasn’t about ramming it down at the gym and avoiding fat but about quality rather than quality. Finding foods which had a balance of flavour and were good quality. I now eat a lot of my chocolate (far too much I know!) but always make sure I balance it with exercise and a happy mind.
I have notepad full of flavour ideas which I am desperate to get experimenting with but it will not be until early 2018. Usually my flavour ideas and end-note balance are dictated to by my demanding taste buds! They will be craving something and drive me to get chocolate out of my cupboard, source the inclusions (flavours), shut the door to my kitchen, crank up the music and just play. If I find I cant stop eating it I get my production team to roll it out into sample bars. My new favourite is puffed quinoa. It’s full of health, adds a fabulous chewy texture and in the Dark Puffed Quinoa bar it adds a slightly malty note too. The latest products I am launching for AW17 are very exciting. A sneaky clue … Marcona almonds and Spanish hazelnuts … AND … flavour. Not sharing any more with you all quite yet!
As well as stocking in some of the best stores in London you also offer a more bespoke service for private clients and their events, I would love to know more about this?
I absolutely adore the bespoke side Charlotte. It allows me to get creative and have fun with a little challenge too. Commissions have included chocolate skis for a ski company (we sprinkled sugar crystals at the top for the snow!), a racing bike for The Design Museum ‘Revolution’ exhibition and mountains of the hand-foiled cubes for weddings – the furthest a field, so far, has been for an Indian client whose daughter was getting married in Oman.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Worry less, have more fun and be prepared for what you plan not to happen and everything you don’t plan to happen.
Any exciting projects in the pipeline for the next six months?
Having secured investment earlier this year, totally out of the blue, its been full on excitement … Coming your way for September is a total brand refresh, new packaging, new products and new website with a more sassy voice. I have also been building my small team of helpers. The AW season, for any chocolate company, is absolutely flat out. You say farewell to friends and family the 3rd week of August and don’t pop up for air until Christmas Day!
And lastly, what are your favourite flowers?
I absolutely adore flowers Charlotte – they are part of the magic of nature and one of the reasons that I qualified as an aromatherapist in my 30’s. I also studied herbal medicine too and learnt a lot about plant species et al. Gardening is in my DNA – my grandmother was an avid gardener. My Ma has taken on the mantle. She is always to be found outside and should have been a garden designer. When I get the chance to head back home, the first thing I do, season dependent, is to go to one of her amazing roses and put my nose in to wallow in the sweet heady scent. I miss not having my own garden so much. Its the best therapy going and its pretty much free.
Top of my list has to be the incredibly delicate cocoa flower, then … old fashioned roses, climbing roses, (nothing like roses) nigella ‘Love in the Mist’, (always a romantic and isn’t their delicateness divine), sweet peas (aren’t their colour and scent dreamy and that the more you pick the more they grow), clematis (utter elegance), and violets (these remind me of one of my grandfathers)