Behind the Brand | Coco Pzazz
Tell us about your brand; what inspired you to start your brand? Where did you get the idea
for your products?
I am Lori Whinn and I am an accidental chocolate maker! I didn’t start to make chocolate until I was 50.
I knew some small chocolate makers and I also ran a “not for profit” horse rescue and rehoming centre. I thought I could develop a chocolate brand and some lovely products, with the chocolate being made for us. I could sell and market the brand with profits going to the horse rescue centre.
We launched Coco Pzazz at a Fine Food Show in London and were immediately up and running with an order for 7500 units from a top London retailer. However, it quickly became apparent that the small chocolate makers didn’t have the capacity to keep up with us and they fled - so I set up an emergency mini chocolate factory at home.
That was a steep learning curve, teaching ourselves to make chocolate and working around the clock from our home kitchen to meet the deadline. We then had to hire a van and drive through the night to deliver the order. 10 years later, we’re a lot more experienced and have a lovely rural chocolate factory that is built for the job! We also have a great little team – and I am not allowed in my own factory as I am too messy and disruptive!
We still have the horses of course. They’re all much loved members of our family and we fund them ourselves.
How long has your brand been operating? Have you been at Home & Gift before?
Coco Pzazz is 10 this year! We are a small, busy team of 8 and now supply hundreds of independent retailers across the UK. You’ll never find us in a supermarket – it’s just not us!
It was our first time at Home & Gift in 2022. It was a last-minute decision, and we had a tiny “blink and you’ll miss us” stand. Despite the sweltering temperature, we had a great event – meeting lots of retailers who are now stockists. We’re back for more in 2023.
What’s your biggest highlight of owning your brand? Why do you love what you do?
I love the constant creative challenge of developing the great flavours and the distinctive artwork that makes Coco Pzazz stand out. For me it’s all about creativity and collaboration.
The brand has also taken me to events in Japan, Dubai and New York, where people “get” the concept of craft chocolate and creative collaboration.
Finding our chocolate bars in gorgeous retail environments and thinking “we did that” gives us a real buzz, and so do the positive comments at trade shows when people see the Coco Pzazz all merchandised together.
I love finding inspiration in unlikely places – ingredients, packaging ideas, artwork for future ranges – it really is hard to switch off.
Looking back, what advice would you give to yourself when you first started out?
It’s going to be tough – and cost a lot more and take more time than you ever imagined!
Follow your instinct – you and the people around you ARE the brand – so be authentic.
Get a great accountant – keep on top of the figures and don’t kid yourself!
Struggles have included: a factory flood, heatwaves, chocolate shortages, machinery breakdowns, covid, recessions and rocketing prices. You really must want a craft food brand – there are much easier ways of paying the bills!
What can we look forward to seeing from your new collections that you are bringing/launching at Home & Gift?
New – Truffles. Launching at the show, a collection of delicious handmade truffles – teamed with distinctive Coco Pzazz distinctive packaging.
New – Coco Crinkles. Launching at the show, moreish ultra-thin chocolate crinkles. Boxes of hand cut chocolate squares flavoured with delicious natural flavours.
We will also have the Christmas 2023 range and a preview of Spring 2024 – plus the rest of the year-round range and examples of our own label collaborations.
Do you have any personal favourites from your new collection?
My favourite is always the latest one – until I find another new flavour or lovely designs of course…
We are particularly excited about our delicious single origin chocolate – and the fabulous truffles as well. Visitors can come and have a taste and decide on what their favourite is!
Also, the coffee Coco Crinkles are an awesome combo of single origin Ariba chocolate and amazing artisan roasted crunchy coffee…. They may be my current favourite – but don’t tell anyone!
What are you most excited for when exhibiting at Home & Gift?
These shows are a great way of catching up with our existing customers as well as meeting new ones. It is always fun to walk the show too - trying to spot trends and potential artwork for future chocolate packaging. Apart from the business angle, it is lovely to catch up with fellow craft food producers as well.
How do you operate your brand sustainably?
We take our eco credentials and corporate responsibility very seriously. We are a small company but have adopted high standards in these important areas. Our packaging has been plastic-free since 2019. We also have a zero to landfill policy and carbon neutral trade deliveries. We use sustainably grown and traceable chocolate and support growers in Ghana and smallholders in Ecuador. We are working towards becoming a B Corp too.