Students tuck into Zone business breakfastApril 26, 2013
Making chocolate bars for an exclusive perfume brand and coming within a whisker of an appearance on Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me were revealed as part of the business start-up story for an artisan chocolatier who came to share her experiences with budding entrepreneurs at Glyndŵr University.
Jo Edwards, of Aballu Artisan Chocolatiers, spoke to students at a business breakfast organised by Zone, the university’s centre for extra-curricular activities which helps students to start their own enterprises.
Jo spoke to students about her journey from studying for a degree and working in a communications job for the Welsh Government to moving into retail and setting up Aballu, now based at Station Road, Rossett, seven years ago.
Jo was appearing at the event as part of Big Ideas Wales. The Welsh Government-backed initiative sees ambassadors known as Dynamo role models travel around Wales sharing their stories of self-employment in the hope of encouraging others – particular young people - to follow suit.
Speaking at the event, Jo said: “When I graduated the first job I had was working for the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, which was new at the time. I only lasted a year but that was an important part of the journey – it made me realise that a nine to five office job just wasn’t for me.
“My parents worked in the pub trade and I grew up in that environment so I moved back into retail. I started to build Aballu up part-time whilst working, so that I had a regular income.”
Jo took the decision to go full-time with Aballu a few years ago in order to expand the business and has recently taken on her first employee.
She now provides customised chocolate bars to Penhaligon’s in Chester and has developed luxury chocolate pizzas which she is hoping to supply to major retailers.
Jo said: “I spent two years part-time building everything up and then took the plunge full-time when the time was right.
“I love chocolate, I love the products that I make and I love making them and that’s so important when you’re working for yourself. You have to be passionate about what you do. If you lose that passion it’s easy for the customer to tell just by tasting the product that you’re supplying them with.
“Running Aballu definitely isn’t a nine-to-five job but it’s that passion which overrides everything. When you have to be up 24 hours working, when someone might not pay you on time or when you’ve just had a bad day it’s that passion that keeps you going.
“There’s all sorts of help out there for people in Wales looking to start their own business. I’ve had a mentor who has taken my business forward faster than I ever could have imagined - the support is there, it’s just a case of finding the right support which you need.”
Judith Alexander, Zone manager, said: “This was the final Zone business breakfast of the year and we had a great turnout. The sessions offer our students the chance to hear from people who’ve made a success of running their own business and gives students the ambition and encouragement to follow in their footsteps.”