My Chocolate Summerhouse
My Chocolate Summerhouse: An interview with Dawn Fry
This week we interviewed Shed of the Year 2014 entrant and chocolate entrepreneur Dawn Fry, owner of The Melting Pot. Dawn runs chocolate making workshops right in her back garden from her very own chocolate summer house. Here Dawn tells us how her journey began and how her garden shed became her greatest asset.
How did your shed journey begin?
We live in a small terrace house which meant that we were constantly looking for more space. Our garden is nice and long so we expanded our space outside and ended up with three sheds. My husband is a blacksmith and a bit of a lover of outdoor buildings so these served as great projects for him.
When did you decide to use one for yourself?
Originally the shed that is now my workshop, used to be a space that we would use in the summer as a bit of an entertaining room, we would often put up a big marquee attached to it and have big parties. In 2009 I was looking for a way to start my own business venture (despite it being the height of recession and my friends thinking I’m mad) and I thought it would be daft not to look to our shed for the location.
Where did the idea for the Melting Pot come from?
At the time, the trend of cupcakes and baking had really started to boom, but I thought it wouldn't last that long so I had a thought ... chocolate. I work in personal development so I knew that I wanted to do something where I was helping people develop different skills. One day I was having a bit of a search and I came across chocolate workshops and it just took off from there.
Did you have any experience within the world of chocolate before you began your business?
I didn’t have any really – other than eating it. To get started, I went on a chocolate training course with the Chocolate Academy in Banbury. After I had completed the course I wrote my own workshop class schedule which was then approved.
How did you adapt the shed for your workshops?
We chose the biggest shed for my workshop as it had the most uninterrupted space. We did a bit of ‘prettifying’ to the space and added a false wall for storage. As soon as that was done we are able to move in the chocolate tanks.
Do you enjoy having your business based at the bottom of your garden?
I love it! Working in the shed means that I’m still able to work from home without actually being in the house. I’m away from distractions and it means that I can keep all of my equipment all in one place and I can leave it just as it is. I’ve started becoming a bit of an ambassador for ‘shed working’ whenever anyone is planning on building themselves a space to work from or is looking to make a leap of faith and begin their own venture, I always suggest getting a garden room.
What do enjoy most about your job?
I love meeting people from all walks of life at the workshops and it’s fascinating to watch the effect that chocolate has on everyone that I meet. We have fun and a bit of a giggle so all in all I have a fantastic job!
Do you think you would have been able to own your business without your garden room?
Absolutely not, we were lucky to already have an outdoor space however even if we didn’t have to begin with, I would have got one. Not only are garden buildings a cheaper alternative, they don’t require planning permission and are really versatile. We still use the chocolate summerhouse for parties and for entertaining in the summer. Garden rooms are also not only an investment in your business and your life, but they are an asset to your home too.
About the Melting Pot
Since Dawn took a leap of faith and built The Melting Pot, her business has gone from strength to strength. Dawn has now expanded her company and has made it possible for others to run their own Melting Pot. Her aim is to create a ‘chocolate family’ of minded people who wish to run chocolate workshops for adults and children in their town.
In 2013, Dawn was voted Entrepreneur of the Year for the work that she had completed on creating the business opportunity. Dawn is proof that by growing your space you really can expand your life.