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From computer chips to chocolate chips

From computer chips to chocolate chips
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From computer chips to chocolate chips
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Swapping IT for bespoke, handmade chocolate isn’t an obvious transition for one’s career but in the case of Melinda Leigh at Nirvana Chocolat , the switch was almost as smooth as her chocolate! We caught up with our Loughton customer to discuss the flourishing business’ journey so far and how Capital Space premises helps her keep her customers sweet.

Time to take the plunge

Rewind to February of 2020 and Melinda was set to become redundant from her IT job. With all the chaos of Covid-19 set to arrive the very next month, it couldn’t have been worse timing. Luckily, Melinda had also been running a successful part-time business. Her chocolate had gained a following through weddings and events and her new sales were turning into regular customers.

“I knew in advance that I was going to be leaving my IT job, so I focused on building up my clients, so I was ready to make the leap to full time.”

When the pandemic hit a month later, Melinda’s events and weddings disappeared overnight, leading to a swift change in strategy for Nirvana Chocolat.

Pandemic pivoting

As an online business, Melinda saw an opportunity to keep afloat but also to help those unable to see loved ones during the lockdown. Adapting quickly and efficiently became a theme of Nirvana Chocolat’s pandemic journey.

‘It was a tough time not being able to visit relatives and loved ones. Being an online business allowed me to send my products to families, which was the next best thing.’

As the lockdowns came and went (and came back again!), Melinda expertly adapted her offering to cater for what her clients needed. Starting with smaller office get-togethers, weddings and then most recently, larger corporate events were added to the Nirvana Chocolat menu.

Capital Space - more than just a place to work

Nirvana Chocolat’s workspace at our Loughton Seedbed Centre site caters for up to 18 people when she hosts events and parties- similar to the one that tempted Melinda into the business over eight years ago.

‘It all started when I booked a chocolate making course for my sister’s birthday - I loved it! Before long I was being asked if I did weddings!’

Melinda has made useful connections with other businesses at Loughton, supporting fellow small businesses.

‘It’s great to have a chat as you arrive in the morning with other businesses, and I’ve actually just booked my car in for an MOT a few doors down. It’s very handy to have connections nearby when you need them and vice-versa.’

The future for Nirvana Chocolat and tips for success

Melinda’s strong eco-focus was clear to see as we spoke and was something she was determined to continue into 2022 and beyond. Having pledged to reduce her own carbon footprint many years ago, Melinda’s subscription service, ‘The Cocoa Box’, plants a tree for each one sold.

Nirvana Chocolat’s main aim for the future is to grow the events side of the business and to begin creating products especially for clients, using their branding. Melinda is also working towards growing her team and moving into a bigger space at Loughton Seedbed Centre

With such a success story behind her, we asked Melinda what her advice would be to others wanting to make the jump to full time:

‘Really know who your ideal client is, research them and find out how you can help them. Network as much as you can, attend events and create useful connections as you’ll never know when you might need them!’

We’re so glad to hear our customers are having success, especially in the face of many different challenges. We wish Melinda and Nirvana Chocolat the best of luck in the future and are proud to continue to support the business and its growth into 2022.

To find out how Capital Space could benefit your growing business,
call 0800 107 4667 or email