Find your passion
The shelves of retailers worldwide are crammed with chocolate brands. So how does a newcomer succeed in such a competitive market? It demands remarkable vision and determination and Tracey Melville-Smith, and her Remarkable Chocolate Company, is proof that with hard work and vision you can live your dream.
Tracey comes across as a very determined business woman; that’s the primary reason why her 150-gram ‘premium, refined’ and handmade chocolate bars have caught on so quickly. Tracey, and fellow chocolatier husband Mark, have pursued somewhat remarkable careers alongside her start-up chocolate company. They first met at Otago University while undertaking commerce degrees. Mark’s was accounting and marketing; Tracey graduated in information science (IT) and management.
They subsequently developed a love for the lower South Island and have spent a lot of time enjoying outdoor pursuits around Queenstown and Wanaka. While they knew there would be a business for them sometime in their future, to keep the wolf from the door, they each embarked on their professional careers. For Mark that involved marketing premium brands, including BMW and Land Rover.
Over the years, Tracey and Mark toyed with a range of business ideas. With their high-energy ‘get things done’ attitude it was only a matter of time before they finally settled on chocolate. It was a low-barrier entry business and, this is a key point - it’s where their true passion lay.
Following years of research and development, in 2013 the final products emerged with initial sales made at the Hobsonville and Parnell Markets. Today, their chocolate is sold at high end food stores like Nosh and Farro, as well as selected specialty stores. There are plans to export to Australia and further afield. Tracey says they’ve outsourced production to a specialist boutique manufacturer, but scaling up presents challenges.
Looking back, she says perhaps their biggest challenge was not keeping a rein on costs to meet the original vision. Achieving the look and feel they wanted with packaging, for example, came at a cost, particularly for their larger gifts.
But she’s grateful for all the support they’ve had from customers, friends and family – who’ve helped the brand succeed. “We’re surrounded by some really cool people.”
Posted: Wednesday 21 December 2016