City Business Library – Under One Roof with guest speaker Jo Fairley of Green & Black’s chocolate.

Wednesday 1 November 2007

Jo_FairleyWhat an inspiration Jo Fairley is. Not only did her partner found the Whole Earth but when he refused to sell chocolate because “it contains added sugar”, she set up Green & Black’s the worlds first organic chocolate.

Here is a snippet of their ground-breaking story:

It all started back in 1991 when Craig Sams, founder of Whole Earth – the pioneering organic food company – was sent a sample of dark 70% chocolate made from organic cocoa beans. His wife, environment columnist for The Times and confirmed chocoholic, Josephine Fairley, found the half eaten bar on Craig’s desk and sampled some for herself. The intense flavour was unique and unlike anything she had tasted before. Jo was convinced other chocolate lovers would appreciate it in the same way she had and they set about making the world’s first organic chocolate. The final product was a high-quality, bitter-sweet dark chocolate bar, packed with 70% cocoa solids – enough to make chocolate fans sit up and take notice..

FairTrade_logoAs the brand began to gain a loyal following, Maya Gold was added to the range in 1994 – the product of a holiday Jo & Craig made to where they discovered cocoa farmers were being penalised, as some larger confectionery companies tried to drive cocoa prices down. They agreed to pay the farmers a fair price for their crops and created the flavour of Maya Gold to capture the taste of the rainforests where the cocoa is grown. This way of doing business didn’t seem different to them – it was what came naturally but it subsequently earned them the UK’s first Fairtrade mark.


Springwise for inspirational new business ideas

Tuesday 17 October 2006

My current favourite source for new business ideas is the Springwise fortnightly newsletter. Tagline ‘new business ideas for entrepreneurial minds. They claim a global network of 8,000 spotters who scan the globe for smart new business ideas, delivering instant inspiration to entrepreneurial minds.

In particular they look for ideas that can be replicated or franchised in the readers home country.

It’s free and comes in a nicely designed html email or pdf download from Netherlands based Springwise BV.SpringWise_logo

I’ve put a sample story below to show the kind of thing they do:

Born out of frustration from hearing their female friends complaining of frizzy hair, entrepreneurs Richard Starrett and Neil Macka took it upon themselves to devise a solution. They came up with the Straight Up machine.

Trading under the name Beautiful Vending Ltd, the two men realised there was a gap in the market, since English weather can turn perfectly styled hair to frizz, ruining a night out for women fixed on having pin-straight hair. It took them a year of research to develop the Straight Up, a patented vending machine that lets women purchase short use of a ceramic straightening iron. The vending machines use professional-grade GHD tongs, “the irons that styled a thousand catwalks”, and 90 seconds’ use goes for one pound (approx USD 1.85/EUR 1.50).

Offering style-conscious females the opportunity to look their best at all times -– regardless of unpredictable weather — this is a simple business idea with low start-up costs and serious potential. The business is currently run solely in the United Kingdom, where 500 units have been placed so far, but Beautiful Vending is seeking to grow quickly and franchise opportunities are available worldwide. Press hype regarding the product has been huge in the UK, garnering much interest from club and bar owners. Straight Up machines will of course be a hit anywhere women preen and primp: restaurants, gyms, shopping malls, office buildings…