“IT’S A FANTASTIC LOCATION AND PEOPLE KNOW THAT YOU ARE A CREDIBLE BUSINESS OFFERING A QUALITY PRODUCT. WE HAVE A LITTLE COMMUNITY WITH THE FLORISTS, BUTCHERS AND BAKERS TOO.”
Collette Alexander was on maternity leave in 2014 when she began getting serious about chocolate. Her love of crafting chocolates began as a hobby, but demand for her fine confectionery started to increase through word of mouth and her Facebook page.
Collette was at home, with her two young sons, making bespoke chocolate all week, which she would sell at artisan markets and events at the weekend. As time went on, her business outgrew her kitchen and she converted a room in her house to make the bespoke confectionery.
Four years later, Luisco Chocolate is based in the food courtyard at Haigh Hall. Luisco is a mash-up of Collette and her sons’ names. It is a family affair with her mother helping out a couple of days a week and a team of staff on hand for the busier events and bank holidays.
“AS A START-UP I HAVE RECEIVED LOTS OF SUPPORT.”
Collette says: “It’s a fantastic location and people know that you are a credible business offering a quality product. We have a little community with the florists, butchers and bakers too.
“As a child I used to walk up here with my mum. I now bring my boys here – it’s such a nice place to work with 350 acres of woodland.”
Originally from Wigan, Collette lives around ten minutes drive from her shop.
She added: “It’s really convenient but importantly, it’s also the right place for me. There are a number of events here such as Foodie Friday, which we participate in and my main business comes through the shop, although I do have a couple of stockists and take some online orders as well.
“As a start-up I have received lots of support. Wigan Council signposted me to the Business Growth Hub and through them I did a number of courses at the University of Bolton in subjects like branding. I learnt a lot from people who have worked for brands like Selfridges and Brewdog.”
Collette was selected as one of the Small Business 100 in 2016 to attend the Blue Tie Ball in London. From that she was shortlisted as one of 20 businesses to go to Downing Street to meet with MP Margot James, who was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Looking to the future Collette says she would like to expand.
“I can imagine if the right opportunity presents itself I would take it. Location is really important for me, but if another space like the one here presented itself then I think I would go for it.”