Stewart, Helen, Ella and baby Ruaridh, and our little chocolatey world!
The Oban Chocolate Company........a bit of history
Having always wanted to run our own business, believe it or not, the idea of Oban Chocolate Company was first born in a campervan on the other side of the world!
Once Helen had graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a 1st Class Honours degree in Food Product Design & Management in 2002, we decided to travel the world to get some inspiration. A visit to the Margaret River chocolate factory in Perth, Australia gave us just that and on return to our hometown of Oban in 2003, we set about testing the feasibility of our plans.
Helen went on a course at Slattery Patisserie in England and learnt the basics of chocolate making. From there, it was a case of her practicing at every spare moment in her mums kitchen (much to her mums dismay!) and of Stewart having the hard task of testing the results (not an entirely equal division of labour!).
We were now confident that we could produce a high quality product and after a long struggle to find suitable premises we chanced upon 9 Craigard Road in Oban. We then managed to secure loans and funding from the Princes Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) and Argyll & Islands Enterprise and moved in to the premises at the beginning to November 2003. We officially opened on December 6th 2003.
Since then the demand for our innovative chocolates hasnt stopped growing. After winning the regional finals of the Shell Livewire Young Entrepreneurs of the Year we went on to win Best Business Plan at the National Finals in Edinburgh in 2004. The following year, we scooped the PSYBT prize at the Highlands and Islands Business Awards held in Inverness in June. Helen was presented the award by Sir John Major! In 2006 we managed to beat 3 other finalists to become the PSYBT/Royal Bank of Scotland regional winners and went on to compete against 5 other finalists in the Scottish final held in Glasgow in November. Although we didn't win, Helen did have the pleasure of being grilled by television presenter Viv Lumsden on stage in front of hundreds of people - no amount of chocolate could calm her before that!
Our move to spanking new premises in 2007 and the subsequent increase in demand for our fabulous coffee and chocolates has meant that Stewart has left his career in Law to join Helen and manage the business full time. We have also seen the addition of a few new members of staff including Head baker Nina, as luscious as the cakes she bakes, David, our Truffle Master plus Kirsty his glamorous assistant; Ann our lovely Retail Supvervisor and her sidekick Helen; cafe manager Solveig and her wonderful team Sheila, Ghita, Aggie, Lauren and Kirsty; Katherine and Catriona our workshop supervisors and last but most certainly not least, Helens brother Kenneth, Chief Chocolatier Extraordinaire (yes that is his official title!).
We also decided to start on the next generation of chocolatiers with the arrival of Ella on 8th March 2009 and baby Ruaridh followed in 2011 on 17th July - they're both already learning the ropes when they come in with mummy to crack the whip!
Together, we all work really hard to produce the wonderful chocolates that we hope you enjoy!