Kneals is a Birmingham chocolate and confectionery business set up in September 2011, in partnership with my wife Gaëlle.
We have always been passionate about food and wine and we often dreamt about creating our own food-related business.
The previous year as I was working for a local bookbinder, my hours and my pay were cut by 25%.
I felt disheartened at first but this ‘misfortune’ also allowed me to have time on my hands; that is when I decided to try something new.
A few experiments (messy but fun!) confirmed my passion for chocolate and Kneals was born.
The same year, over Christmas I tested my creations on family and friends with great results so it was with confidence that I enrolled in a 2 day course at the Chocolate Academy in Banbury.
This was an eye-opener for me and I soon realised that the chocolates I had created up to that point, although good, were not to the standard I really wanted to achieve.
After another two courses and a lot of experimenting, I created my luxury collection of 12 unique chocolates with its distinctive box incorporating our logo.
Our baptism of fire was the Festive Fayre at the LG Arena in Dec 2011.
This was an ambitious prospect that turned out to be an expensive lesson but also an essential learning curve for Kneals.
In 2012, we started selling our products at Farmers’ Markets in the South Birmingham area, where we have built up a strong customer base.
I really enjoy the markets: I can test new products on my customers and we have also made some good friends along the way.
In additon, we sell our products at independent retailers, cater for wedding and corporate favours or requests for special events and of course, we are aiming at developing our internet services.
Our selling point is simple: made in Birmingham, using locally sourced ingredients, no added sugars/sweetners aimed at prolonging shelf life.
In November 2013, I was made redundant from my bookbinding job, but sad though it was, I realised it was the push from fate that I needed to take Kneals to another level.
I am now able to offer chocolate parties, truffle-making workshops and as an artisan, I have so much fun coming up with innovative ideas and designs!