Casey Pringle started selling her chocolate creation at farmers' markets, having discovered raw chocolate's health benefits (and of course its delicious flavour) when she was pregnant. And the demand has steadily grown from there.
The Kyneton-based creative makes her rich and fudgy bars from raw cacao, coconut nectar, essential oils, dried fruit and... that's it!
To Casey, RAW Chocolate's most important values are its sustainability, quality and ethical sourcing of ingredients.
To me, when I first saw her bars, I couldn't believe how minimal the packaging was! Just a simple 'RAW' across the front of the cardboard packaging - no screaming brand claims or foil in sight! This was my kind of design!
This considered and tasteful approach continues across Casey's Instagram page. Oh my - those photos! My clients know I go on about the importance of quality imagery for a brand, and RAW Chocolate is my case in point!
Anyway, enough from me - time to hear from the taste-maker (in both senses of the word!) herself, Casey...
You started selling your chocolate at farmers markets - what were the key steps you took to turn what you were doing into a fully fledged business?
I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. I had a lot of support from friends, family and community so RAW Chocolate really grew organically. I basically just jumped straight in and tackled each obstacle as it arose but it was really through community support that I was able to turn it into a fully fledged business.
I love your packaging - it’s so minimal and classy. How did you choose this and what was it like developing packaging for the first time?
Thank you! It really helped having a graphic designer husband. Joel asked me what my chocolate was about and why I wanted to make it and then created a look and feel for the brand that represented those values. I had terrible ideas about branding and packaging so having an expert to work on it was a real learning experience. I had no idea what was involved in branding until I saw what Joel did with RAW Chocolate.
Your product photography is gorgeous! Do you do this all yourself? What’s the process look like for this - do you put aside time each week/month to take shots? How do you choose the props?
I’ve had a lot of help from some very creative and talented people who have provided me with beautiful images to use on social media. I do some of the photography myself and that’s just when I can find a spare moment to do so or if I have a product gifted to me from a business that I really admire or that inspires me.
I should probably put aside time each week but I haven’t had the chance to get that organised. My own product has introduced me to so many other products by way of social media so I choose a lot of my props from others that I come across, through meeting new people, searching for quality or just something that I see in nature or everyday life. I try to represent what I believe in through images.
Social media! Instagram has been such an amazing tool and connected me to so many people! Most of my stockists, including Afternoon Pick Me Up and Project You & Me have found me through Instagram and just get in contact via email. I think one of the best things about RAW Chocolate is the people it has connected me to.
Tell us who is involved in your business - what does your team look like? Perhaps it's just you!
It’s just me! I’m a one woman show!
What marketing have you tried that just hasn't worked all that well? What does work well?
To be honest I really haven’t tried as much in a marketing sense as I probably should have because I simply haven’t had the time to think about it. I have noticed that for my brand, dark backgrounds and props don’t work as well as light and bright ones. I’m finding also that sharing my story and my “why” is being really well received. Other than that I think it’s all about trial and error. If something doesn’t work, I stop doing it and try something else. It’s better than not doing anything at all.
What’s your process look like for managing your social media? Do you dedicate certain time to it? Schedule posts? Have content plans?
I wish I did dedicate certain time to social media but I just haven’t gotten around to it. I don’t schedule posts or have content plans which is probably a bit silly. I try to be as active as I can and post from the heart.
What are some of the struggles you've experienced, or continue to, in running a start-up?
Lack of funds and time. I started the business without any capital and that has meant it’s had to grow quite slowly and that I can’t do everything I want to straight away. It’s also meant that I’ve had to do most of the work myself and that has been pretty exhausting.
What are your greatest rewards?
My greatest rewards are the skills I’ve developed, the lessons I’ve learned and the friends I’ve made.
Anything in store for RAW Chocolate in the near future that you can share?
Honestly, I have no idea. When I started the business I couldn’t have foreseen what it’s become so I’m not going to even try to predict what it might turn into. I have loads of dreams for business but, I’m not exactly sure which will come to fruition first.
Photos: Tara Pearce,Alexandra Strong and Casey Pringle