Independent Business: An Interview With Ali Gower Owner Of The Chocolate Tree
This is an interview with Ali Gower exploring various aspects of The Chocolate Tree as a sustainable, ethical business in the 21st century:
The two owners, Alastair Gower & Friederike Matthis, met whilst performing as “red men” in the Beltane festival of Edinburgh. The positive reactions we received at the festivals highly motivated us, and we progressed The Chocolate Tree to become our full time passion and business.
We went on to attend local farmers markets and craft fairs selling a range of hand made chocolates and organic certified bars, which led to selling our chocolate to the local farm shops and delicatessens in East Lothian. We have always been organic certified and used certified or otherwise ethically accountable ingredients. We now sell our chocolate bars across the UK and occasionally overseas, to stockists who are either small family ran businesses or otherwise engaged in the ethical conduct of their business. We have a simple “no” policy to supplying supermarkets.
On Alastair’s birthday, in November in 2009, we opened a boutique chocolaterie at 123 Bruntsfield Place in Edinburgh. In the 3 years we have had the building we have gained a popular reputation amongst residents of Edinburgh, and have even heard of people travelling miles to visit us!
The interview took place in The Edinburgh Larder over some locally sourced food. In the conversation you can find many issues explored including:
- What attracted you to working with chocolate?
- Tell us about The Chocolate Tree as an ethical business?
- How are you consciously connected with your environment?
- What are your priorities as a business ?
- What ambitions do you have?
- What barriers and challenges have you had to overcome?
- What entrepreneurial support have you recieved and would you recommend?
- What factors would you say make the entrepreneur?
- What is the Slow Foods movement and why is it important?
- Tell us about chocolate as a widely consumed plant good?
- What moves do you think all businesses need to make in the next decade?
- What is your view of corporations and do you work with them?
This is a case study which is to form part of an economic regeneration project in part inspired by Steady State Manchester. The Ragged project is exploring the issues sustainable, stable and healthy economies are facing.
The Chocolate Tree
123 Bruntsfield Place
0131 228 3144
Mon-Sat 8am to 8pm
Sun 9am to 8pm