Founder of handmade chocolate company Paulina Filar, reveals what it’s like to run your own business, why she chose to make chocolate for a living and how Rye Chocolates first began.
Tell us a bit about Rye Chocolates – how did the business begin and why chocolate?
Chocolate was always my passion, when I was studying at University in Krakow I lived above a chocolate shop which was one of my favourite places in the city and made me fall in love with all things chocolate. When I moved to Rye I realised there was a severe lack of high-quality chocolate! So I decided to change that.
I started by opening a small shop in Rye and selling chocolate from small independent companies. But after a while, I decided that I could create my own brand, so I did.
Read more: What it’s like to run a chocolate factory
What is an average day like for you?
Busy! Every day is a little bit different because Rye Chocolates is such a small company. I only have a handful of employees, including my fiancee who helps me run the company alongside his career. I am so grateful for his support.
On an average day I could be flitting around doing any number of things: packing online orders; ordering wrappers, foil or ingredients; wrapping the bars, or selling them in our shop; or even creating new flavours and products.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
My favourite part of the job is definitely creating new flavours – peanut butter and sea salt is my favourite so far; a couple of bars always “go missing” when that flavour is in production. Designing new wrappers, collaborating with other independent businesses and seeing the joy my chocolate brings to people are definitely highlights of the job too.
What’s the toughest part?
The toughest part is not having enough hours in the day. Keeping track of every aspect of the company can be very time consuming, I do often find myself wishing for more hours in the day as I always want to be achieving and setting new goals, so if the earth could turn a little slower, that’d be great.
Tell us a bit about your path to getting where you are now. You mentioned you were a trained solicitor. Could you tell us about that?
I was a qualified lawyer in Poland specialising in international law, and completing a doctorate in such is still one of my goals. I continue to help family with legal advice and other things but currently, I am very focussed on the running and expansion of Rye Chocolates.
What prompted you to change careers?
I spent pretty much all of my life in education until I moved to England straight out of university at 25. I wanted to try something different, so here I am, six years later running a successful chocolate company!
What advice would you give to someone who is considering a career switch and wants to start their own business?
Don’t be afraid. Follow your gut feeling and what you think is right – don’t let different people stop you from travelling your own path. Keeping your own identity within a business can be a struggle but is definitely worth it in the end.
What setbacks or obstacles have you faced in starting your own business and how have you overcome them?
I was born, raised, and educated in Poland so English isn’t my first language. When I moved to England six years ago my English wasn’t very good, which was an obstacle when it came to getting a job. So I created my own opportunities. Running my own business in such a niche market definitely has its challenges. The biggest challenge being keeping up with demand and prioritising tasks. I am constantly learning and adapting to the best way to run my business; it has helped me grow exponentially. I have found that starting every morning by compiling a list of what I want to achieve in the upcoming day really helps me keep my focus.
What is your career highlight so far? What are you most proud of?
Opening a second “sister” shop in Hastings called Only Coco Chocolates, setting up prosperous trade accounts and definitely collaborating with companies that have inspired me on my journey to run an independent business.
To find out more, visit: ryechocolates.co.uk