Hi, I'm Zara, founder of Zara's Chocolates.
In 2010, fuelled by a passion for fine chocolates, I started to learn more about this world - and I've never looked back.
Starting from home with a more-than willing army of taste testers, and a dream to convert the people of Bristol to the world of fine chocolate, I started to trial new and exciting products to sell at local markets and events.
When the opportunity arose to take on half of a small shop, alongside a talented local florist, I decided to expand the business and see what a bricks and mortar shop could offer.
Nearly five years later, and with a truly awesome female team, Zara’s Chocolates has been awarded the Bristol Good Food Award for Best Confectionery four years running; and I have made several TV and radio appearances, most memorably alongside the late Sir Terry Wogan.
Zara's Chocolates is now a welcoming, friendly hub for chocolate in the heart of South Bristol, known for creating innovative chocolates, delicious ice creams in the summer, and seasonal sculptural displays.
Now that our ambition has outgrown our space, we are looking to fit out our new premises (just down the road from our current home) so that we can offer even more to chocolate lovers in Bristol and beyond.
Our New Shop
Our ambition is to create a ‘Chocolate Hub’ for Bristol. Historically, Bristol was the home of the world's first chocolate bar and a major part of the UK's chocolate industry. We want to reignite and celebrate this link, revitalising the world of chocolate for a new generation!
Moving into a new shop, one that’s all ours, is truly the most exciting thing we can imagine. But, more than simply providing us with our own chocolate lair, it opens up so many more opportunities for the business to continue growing and developing. We've outlined just a few of these below:
- Creation of our Hot Chocolate Bar - We’ve long dreamed of creating our own atmospheric ‘Hot Chocolate Bar’ where we can serve a variety of speciality hot chocolates. A sort of speakeasy for cocoa lovers! We really want our new space to be more flexible and to give us somewhere we can sell our chocolates and ice creams alongside serving the BEST hot chocolates in town.
- Tempting new products - There's a whole host of new product ideas up our sleeves, but currently no room to make or showcase them. The new shop and kitchen will provide the space we need to bring these chocolate visions to life!
- More local produce, less waste - The new larger kitchen will allow us to process more local produce and ingredients, controlling even further what goes into our chocolates. This will also help towards our goal of lowering our own waste and reducing our use of plastic.
- Source chocolate directly from cocoa farmers - We are excited to foster new relationships with cocoa farmers, who are starting to produce their own chocolate, allowing them to make more income from their crops.
- New Workshops - The new kitchen will provide more room for running our popular chocolate workshops - even during shop opening hours. This means an exciting new programme of workshops, including longer courses for people seeking more in-depth knowledge.
- Evening Events - We plan to host a variety of special evening events, from tasting evenings (some in collaboration with other local producers) as well as talks and screenings of important documentaries and films focusing on the chocolate industry.
- Education - From our fun and informative evening events, to our expanded workshop and class timetable, we also hope to spread the knowledge of chocolate to the younger generations - so they can better understand where the treat they love really comes from. We already get requests for school visits at our current premises, but with minimal space it's not something we can currently offer. This new space will provide more opportunities to say yes, and share our knowledge with the next generation.
- Showcasing British Bean-to-Bar - There is an incredible bean-to-bar scene in the UK at the moment. As chocolatiers rather than chocolate makers, we don't currently make our own chocolate from the bean. Instead, we would love to showcase some of these awesome British bean-to-bar producers in our shop.
What your money will help us achieve
We are committed to our aims and want to make sure our new space is the best it can possibly be from the outset. The money we raise will go into the following:
- Renovation works; including modernising the shop facilities, and creating a visible kitchen area.
- Installing air conditioning units so that we can avoid the issues we face with making and keeping our chocolate from spoiling in hot weather.
- Expanding our kitchen set up to include an oven, extra marble for tempering, more trolleys, and a few more gadgets to keep us on our toes.
- New fixtures, fittings and seats in the shop area - we want our chocolate hub to be the cosiest space in town!
What Zara's Chocolates is all about
Our aim is to imbue your day with something a little different; something that gives you an excuse to slow down and savour the moment.
We believe in crafting beautiful chocolates, by hand. Everything we do, every bowl of chocolate tempered, every decoration placed on a truffle and every bow tied on a box, is done by hand using the finest ingredients.
We believe in experimentation. From the unique flavours we blend, to the giant sculptures we conjure up, we're striving to showcase the breadth and diversity of chocolate, causing a stir with our work.
We believe in keeping our business transparent. This includes being the only chocolatier in Bristol to work from an open kitchen, where our customers can watch what we are up to at any time!
We believe in local. We look to use local ingredients where possible, supporting an collaborating with local businesses, and nourishing our community.
We believe in constantly seeking to improve - in both the products that we create, and also the way the business operates.
We are about more than just the chocolate, we believe in drawing our local community into our world. Whether it’s through the experience of watching our chocolatiers hand temper and craft amazing chocolates in-store, attending one of our chocolate workshops or events, or giving the gift of something handmade, local and delicious to a loved one. We want to keep creating unique experiences centered around this most tempting and decadent treat.
Risks and challenges
Not being able to stop at just one chocolate!
Beyond the potential for gluttony, the risks to this project are minimal – we are an established business with a loyal and growing customer base and our expansion is driven as much by the demand for our specialist skills as it is by our own desire to grow.
We are awaiting approval of a cafe licence from Bristol City Council. We can't foresee any problems with this as there are a number of coffee shops and small restaurants already trading in the area, but we wanted to make our backers aware that there is a very small risk bureaucracy could limit the Hot Chocolate Bar side of our venture. Should the worst happen, then never fear - all the rest of our plans will still carry on!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)