In this session, Hannah Watkinson enlightened us about the Welder Collective and Lucy Bennetto talked about the awesome journey of Bennetto Chocolate.
Speaker One: Hannah Watkinson of the Welder Collective
Hannah is a born and bred Cantabrian, and studied for five years at UC to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a major in photography, graduating with First Class Honours. While at university she took part in the University Center for Entrepreneurship (UCE)’s summer scholarship program. This resulted in her being asked to open an exhibition in a fairly large space outside Scorpio Books in the BNZ Center.
The goal was to help bridge the gap between studying art and becoming a practicing artist. There was not many artists going straight into the profession after studying, and In Situ has helped with that. It provided a place for young artists to get their work seen, alongside experienced artists to draw in attention.
It was an amazing experience to be involved in this while Christchurch was slowly starting to build more of a community and culture again. Over the past two years, they have held thirteen exhibitions with 47 different artists. Many have gone on to have works in places like the Christchurch Art Gallery after being spotted at In Situ Exhibitions.
For Hannah the things that have kept her going has been “an incredible support group, a large dose of naivety and our amazing community coming up in Christchurch.” These are the things that have helped pull her through many unexpected hurdles.
In Situ has also run an exhibition that featuring artworks by marginalized members of society, where Hannah loved seeing all different people so engaged.
Around two years ago she pitched In Situ at Coffee and Jam, and felt super encouraged by all the people who attended. This pushed her a long way, and she is incredibly grateful to all the people who provide these opportunities and come along to events such as Coffee and Jam.
They have now moved into the Welder Collective at 22 Welles Street, which has really taken on a life of its own. While sharing photography has always been Hannah’s focus, it’s been great to be able to help others quit their day jobs and work on things they are more passionate about.
In Situ Photo Project will be going on hiatus for the first half of next year, not because she is tired (though she is still tired) but because the is embarking on a new adventure and will be wrapping this up in the meantime.
They are currently showing “Homeward” at the Welder, which features Christine McFetridge and Samantha Matthews. This explores themes of memory and transition, and is their last exhibition both for the year and for the near future.
Hannah hopes to be back at Coffee and Jam in March to tell us about her next project.
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaker Two: Lucy Bennetto from Bennetto Chocolate
Lucy founded Bennetto Natural Foods in 2010, originally creating raw organic hot chocolate bars. They are a sustainable company as well as the majority of their ingredients are organic, natural products. They also go for Fairtrade certified wherever possible, and work closely with a Peruvian Chocolate Cooperative. Products are produced in New Zealand, and are vegan and gluten free.
She wants to create a positive impact, and has a passion for food - chocolate in particular. As a company, they are always thinking very carefully about what kind of impact they are making and whether or not that is the impact they want to make.
This was also born out of a desire to innovate; to do things a little bit different, a little bit better.
Lucy was in Dubai teaching and was surprised to find that while all their surroundings where expensive and nice - the cars, food, interiors, everything - the hot chocolate was just plain old cocoa and sugar like always; hence the problem they are solving.
She came back and began working on a line of hot chocolate bars that are 70% cocoa, as opposed to the normal 10% in powders. They had a beautiful chocolate, beautiful packaging which even has birds local to the place the chocolate came from on it, and overall a beautiful product - but people were eating the chocolate, rather than putting it into drinks. It was also very expensive at $10 for two bars, and Lucy knew that a boutiquey product like this would never create a high-flying business to support her.
To solve this problem they created a line of powders alongside the bars, though a lot of cafes still serve the bars in or beside their hot chocolates. They also have powders that are made with coconut sugars and even superfoods.
Product was ticking along all right and people were still eating the bars, but it wasn’t enough.
She was then approached by a company from Switzerland, asking her to develop a line of chocolate bars with them as there was a gap in the market. It seemed like a big risk, but after about three years of collaboration and one year of calling for around three hours every night, they have now created a a range of four chocolate bars - orange & chilli, mint & cocoa nibs, intense dark 75% and toasted hazelnut.
This came at the perfect time for Bennetto, and they have done extremely well since launching the chocolates just a few weeks ago. Making the products organic and Fairtrade certified has proved to be a bigger challenge than expected, as you have to work extra hard to balance the flavours. The cocoa butter in this chocolate is Dominican, and the Peruvian one they originally used actually changed the flavour entirely.
There has been a big focus throughout the range on texture, so small pieces of orange, hazelnut and cocoa nibs are present throughout. It is also totally carbon neutral, as one timber tree is planted for every one thousand bars to entirely offset carbon emissions. While being a challenge, using conscious ingredients not only improves the communities and people who made it’s lives, but also makes the flavour much better.
Lucy believes it is really important to focus on these three things:
Packaging. Will what they see drive them to buy your product in the first place?
Product. What are the consumers experiencing once they buy it?
Price. Even if you have amazing packaging and product, will customers be driven to continue buying?
Working with the Swiss manufacturers meant they were able to get prices down from $10 to $6.50, which has been a huge factor in driving sales.
She also believes it is incredibly important to;
Have passion for the problem you are solving and the way you are solving it,
Work hard. Much as it is a becoming a cliche, start ups are hard work and you have to be prepared for that,
Take bold moves. You can’t box yourself in by fear, and
Be committed. You have to be 100% committed to what you are doing and keep going at it.
Angus has recently graduated CPIT with a Bachelor in ICT. He is looking for software development employment opportunities. You can email email@example.com or text 0226092740.
Ministry of Awesome are running one of their Activator Caffeine Adventures tomorrow from 9:30 til 6, you can check it out here.
Lilia Tarawa’s TEDx talk from the recent TEDxChristchurch has just hit 1M views after being online for just three weeks. You can watch her talk here, and find the rest on the TEDxChristchurch Facebook page!
Coffee & Jam is Christchurch's longest running weekly meet up for entrepreneurial-minded people. It’s a great place to see ordinary people doing extraordinary things, be inspired, network, and share in an innovative space. Coffee and Jam is your opportunity to meet new people in the Christchurch entrepreneurial ecosystem and indulge in a little bit of free coffee, jam and bread.
If you have an idea you'd like to pitch get in touch with Gina at firstname.lastname@example.org