Cococlectic falls into the foodie category of subscription boxes. As a subscriber you will receive 4 small-batch bean-to-bar chocolate bars each month. Prices start at $31.50 per month. Today, Doreen Leong, founder of Cococlectic, is answering a few questions for our Behind the Box series.
What made you decide to start a subscription box service?
I grew up loving chocolate! Over dinner one night with my family in Wisconsin, we started talking about chocolates and how limited their options were. Living in San Francisco, we are so spoiled with easy access to pretty much anything we crave for. My family in Wisconsin and especially in Singapore and Malaysia (where I grew up), unfortunately have limited access to good quality chocolate. I would send them boxes of chocolate just so they can have their chocolate fix. It was during that dinner that i thought about all the other chocolate lovers out there who didn’t have the luxury of such a variety of chocolates. Then, pa-da-bing pa-da-pong, Cococlectic was born. Since then, my family and friends have been very happy. They now have access to chocolates they weren’t before Cococlectic.
How did you choose your subscription niche?
I love dark chocolate. I’ve been exposed to many different kinds of chocolates – white, milk, dark, Belgian, Swiss, etc. When I was introduced to a bean-to-bar chocolate, I was so impressed by how I was able to taste the cacao bean varietal. Some had a citrus finish while others had a hint of smokiness to them. You can taste so many different flavors. Not one bean varietal is the same. I can tell the different between a Madagascar from a Belise bar. The flavors derived from the bean itself! I was shocked that there was nothing else added to the bar to make those flavors. Since then I was curious about the bean-to-bar process and so I studied more about it. The more I learned, the more impressed I was with the process and the story behind the chocolate makers and the cacao farmers. I believe in these chocolate makers and that’s why I choose to represent them. They make amazing chocolates and I want to be able to share them with other chocolate lovers out there. Chocolate lovers deserve to have access to great quality chocolate.
How long did it take between idea and official launch?
Not long. 2 months! We worked from ground up to launch day very aggressively speaking to chocolate makers, copywriters, website designers, vendors, packaging team and such. Our team had so much fun getting this project launched! We believed in what we were doing so it wasn’t hard for us to set out minds to get the job done. Plus we had chocolate to keep us motivated! When in doubt we reach out to a chocolate bar.
How do you source the products that will be included each month?
We look for 4 things when looking for a chocolate maker to feature – how small their production is (we look for small-batch, rare and hard to find chocolate), the ingredients they use (we look specifically for chocolate makers who use about 3-4 ingredients – cacao, some type of sugar, cocoa butter and sometimes vanilla), their sustainable practices (and their story) and of course taste (we have a diverse tasting team who look for unique and bold tasting bars).
What was your biggest surprise – good or bad – with your new business?
I love having a relationship with the chocolate makers – I didn’t realize that I would learn so much from them! We have great conversations with every chocolate maker. They have such interesting stories to tell. Each chocolate maker truly is in the business of making chocolates for the love of chocolates. You absolutely have to love the process as it takes precise measurements and discipline to do what they do, and mostly (if not all) by hand. Many of the chocolate makers know their farmers by name too. One chocolate maker has 4 kids and a full time job AND makes chocolates immensely flavorful! Another grew up in Singapore and all he wants to do is to make chocolate with simple ingredients that’s affordable for chocolate lovers to enjoy.
What would you change if you had to start over?
Absolutely nothing! I love the team that we have now, the chocolate makers we’re featuring and the progress we’re making. My only wish was that there would be more bean-to-bar chocolate makers out there for us to try.
Where do you see your business five years from now? Any changes in the works?
We are working on branching out to other things chocolate related besides just the monthly chocolate subscription; like chocolate education, chocolate tours and such. In 5 years we aim to carry more local and other small-batch international bean-to-bar chocolate makers. We also aim to change the chocolate industry landscape by educating more and more people about the health benefits of consuming dark chocolate, child labor in cacao plantation, fair trade and sustainable practices and the chocolate making process.
Thanks Doreen, for the interview! Feel free to stop by Cococlectic to learn more about this yummy sub.