Success for The Craft Tree Social Enterprise!

15 December 2020

Coming out of the first lockdown meant that companies and businesses were not hiring or taking on people for work placements. This left our Skills Bridge interns with a lot of gaps to fill on their timetables.

The idea was to set up a social enterprise that the interns could run, teaching them about designing products to sell, marketing, advertising and running a business.

This idea came around the same time that a big company called Tech Buyer, who had heard about our Harrogate Chocolate Factory, enquired if it was just chocolate we sold or was there a possibility of us doing more.

We decided on hampers and came up with a menu of what we could create for them, ranging from a luxury hamper, a family hamper, prosecco and popcorn, a recipe kit using our chocolate then finally a cookies and chocolate pack.

After making up a prototype of each hamper, photographing them and sending it out to Tech Buyer, we did not anticipate their response….They requested 200 of the luxury hampers. This figure was later decreased to 150 but still a massive order that got us excited and gave our interns an opportunity to work in another factory like setting by putting these hampers together.

The hampers themselves didn’t take a long time to put together. The difficulty was finding suppliers willing to provide us with enough stock to fill them.

We would like to give a special mention to Harrogate Sainsbury’s as they by far were the most supportive supplier with two of their managers really going out of their way to be supportive and help us with stock… A Big SHOUT OUT to them and thank you so much.

After completing the Tech Buyer order we were left with excess stock so decided to make them available to the friends and families of HS4LC. The orders came in thick and fast with many people wanting multiple hampers and bars of our Harrogate Chocolate Factory chocolate.

We have completely sold out of chocolate on multiple occasions throughout this period. It takes up to 30 hours to make one batch of chocolate from start to finish. One batch is only 40 bars and we only have two small machines continuously spinning to make our chocolate smooth and glossy… The poor things will be looking forward to the Christmas shutdown so that they can have a break.

At this point there was only 4 weeks left until we could all have a break… but then the phone rang. A lovely lady called Jennie who was a freelance Marketing Manager for a company in Knaresborough had stumbled across our Harrogate Chocolate Factory website and wanted to know a little more about us. She was thinking of recommending us to her company that buy their employees a bar of chocolate each as a Christmas gift… How nice! We couldn’t resist telling her about our festive hampers from our Craft Tree enterprise and also telling her what our Skills bridge programmes are and what the interns do. She loved the sound of everything HS4LC stands for and said she will get back to us as soon as possible about the chocolate.

Under the supervision of Fran, Jess and Katie, the interns continued to put together the hamper orders that our friends and families had requested. The Cacao beans kept roasting, the grinders grinding and the interns kept wrapping finished bars of chocolate to sell (at this point no bar was left on the shelf for longer than a day)

Jennie kindly called us back and said she had some good news for us. Her company, Ilke Homes would like to buy some of our luxury hampers for their staff as a Christmas gift. They loved the idea of giving their business to a social enterprise. We asked how many they would like and went white as a sheet at her answer… 370 luxury hampers in 2 weeks please. Is that even possible we though? The logistics of it would be a challenge but we couldn't turn down such a fantastic opportunity!

Luckily we have an excellent team that all pull together to get things done. The interns have worked exceptionally hard in ensuring our success. Over 600 bars of chocolate later, working weekends, making up ribbons, shredding paper (with a terrible shredder that keeps breaking down) setting up boxes, filling the hampers! The hard work that has gone into making this all possible is fantastic and has been a real achievement that all can be proud of going into Christmas break!

Well done to everyone involved!

We would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and here's to a better looking year in 2021.