South Australian Chocolate Business Shares the Importance of Community

Without small business, we’re nothing. TheLatch— and GoDaddy have teamed up to rally behind local businesses and entrepreneurs during this unprecedented time of change.

We’re speaking to small businesses and entrepreneurs across the country to better understand how they’re adapting to stay open, how they’re keeping their community safe, and how we can support them now during this time, and beyond. We’re focused on keeping Australia open for business, even if doors are closed. #OpenWeStand

For all its success, The Cheeky Chocolate Queen has humble roots. Founder Rebecca Day began selling homemade Rocky Road at markets on advice from friends, and soon discovered she was the only chocolate seller there.

Next, she created what is now her signature product and bestseller — a chocolate frog. “I started off making it in plain, milk, white and two-tone chocolate. Now, my chocolate frogs range up to 64 different flavours,” Day tells TheLatch—.

Community support has been central to The Cheeky Chocolate Queen’s business journey, with Day’s customers finding her at markets, the Royal Adelaide Show, a pop-up collective in South Australia’s Marion, and her own shop front.

She’s also ranging her products in other stores and on her website that she built using GoDaddy. Being visible online has been especially important during the current pandemic. “When bricks and mortar stores had to close I was really down in the dumps, but online orders still kept coming in and it gave me hope! My customers are still standing by me.”

Day says the way she interacts with her customers has changed dramatically. “I’m using Facebook a lot to show what I’m making, and Instagram.” Her current strategy includes posting engaging content to social media (strawberry cheesecake chocolate blocks, anyone?) as well as running competitions for her followers.

Digital marketing has also become key with a brand new website allowing her business to be searchable nationwide. 

We took a minute out of Day’s day to chat about the popularity of her glorious vegan chocolates, the power of positive word of mouth, and why community support is crucial for small business survival in tough times.

TheLatch— Rebecca, thank you for your time. We know how busy you must be in the week before Easter. Tell us a bit about how your business took off after you launched at the markets.

Rebecca Day: It started on Facebook — it was called Paper Purses Buy Back And Choccies Galore, because I had a paper purse business as well. Still working full time, I began selling only on the weekends until about three years ago when I opened a shop on Beach Road at Christie’s Beach.

We were there for almost two years, but unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of foot traffic around Beach Road. We were paying rent for nothing, really, while the business online was doing quite well. I’ve got a small shop front at home now, and I will be doing regular pop-ups at Marion. I’m supposed to be there now but with what’s going on currently I obviously can’t be! 

TL: Did you find that your business grew mostly through word of mouth?

RD: From doing the Royal Show; I’ve done that two years in a row now. The first year I had my vegan chocolate frog, and last year at the show is when my vegan offering really took off.

My vegan offering is my biggest seller at the moment — I have 36 different flavours. I used to stock one of the biggest vegan stores in South Australia, but unfortunately they’ve closed up. At the moment the only place you can get the chocolate from is on my website, which I built through GoDaddy.

“The only place you can get the chocolate from is on my website!”

Pictured: The Cheeky Chocolate Queen

TL: Well you know we’re about to put an order in right this second. How has your business been affected by the coronavirus pandemic? 

RD: I was really quite panicked. I had a bit of an anxiety attack when all of this started happening because this is my only income at the moment. I was really down in the dumps, but orders still kept coming in, and it gave me hope! I’d see orders come through or a message from a customer on Facebook and it’s really kept my spirits up. My customers are still standing by me and I am so, so thankful.

I’ve had another business contact me wanting 30-odd Easter gifts to gift to their staff — they’re trying to shop local and support local businesses. Which is fantastic, so I’ve gained all these new customers through coronavirus because everyone wants to support local, which is absolutely fantastic. 

I’ve seen a lot of my friends in business who are still doing OK because their local communities are supporting them, and from regulars sticking by them.

“I’ve gained all these new customers through coronavirus because everyone wants to support local, which is absolutely fantastic.”

TL: Have you thought about collaborating with other small businesses or local businesses to help each other through this time?

RD: Yes! Veggie Paws, a vegan dog treat company in South Australia. I just made some special dog chocolate for them. I’ve also had a few other people wanting to work together when this all clears over. We were supposed to do things before [the pandemic], and the great thing is no one has cancelled orders, it’s all just on hold for when this passes. 

I had a lady find me who had googled ‘vegan chocolate near Christie’s Beach’, because she wanted to support a small business, and that’s how she found my website and purchased directly from me over the weekend.

It’s awesome seeing small businesses and the community helping each other.

TL: That is such a nice story. Have you changed the way you interact with your customers?

RD: Yes definitely! I’m using Facebook a lot to show what I’m making through videos, and using Instagram (but I tend to forget about it sometimes!). 

TL: Have you always had your online store or did you launch it recently?

RD: We launched it last year, in 2019. I’ve got a site update coming as soon as this all passes! I noticed when I launched my website that the business went more national, and I now have customers purchasing from all across Australia. The vegan chocolate and freckle letters are the most popular.

TL: How can customers support your business in the short term?

RD: Share my page through Facebook, share my posts, comment and tag your friends. I also have some competitions going on Facebook at the moment, so engaging with those would be amazing. Just getting the word out there about my brand is so valuable.

TL: And just quickly, because we’re so curious. Do you make all the chocolate yourself, or do you have a team working for you?

RD: Just me, myself and I! My husband helps out with the packing, but with everything happening now, I’m doing it all myself. 

Given I work in food production, our hygiene practices have always been top-notch. I just had to hand-foil wrap 400 half eggs for a fundraiser, and I have a few hundred moulds to wash by the time I finish up today! I need a rest! [Laughs].

Show your support for The Cheeky Chocolate Queen by shopping the delicious range now. 

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