AMAZING ARTISAN: DOISY AND DAM

If you haven’t heard of Doisy and Dam then you must have been living under a rock for the past year. Seriously. On a mission to make healthy, fantastic tasting chocolate treats, these guys are making big waves in the food world. After a hugely successful pop up at Old Street Station last November, we were keen to catch up with D&D and find out why Old Street’s the place to be for exciting new foodie discoveries.

Hi Doisy and Dam! Tell us the story of your business - what made you embark on your mission to make chocolate healthy?

Hi Kitchen Table Projects! Thank you for having us, we’re very big fans of your mission to incubate artisan food businesses. Richard and I started the business about a year and a half ago on a mission to make chocolate healthier without sacrificing flavour or deliciousness. We’ve created a range of 5 organic dark choc products and will be releasing a new product range this September (keep an eye out!) We’ve been foodies for a long time, superfoodies for a little less time and we didn’t understand why healthiness generally made products taste worse. We set about combining the tastes, textures and benefits of superfoods with the best possible quality organic chocolate we could find and created our first product range!

Okay, so if there was one thing you’d like everyone to know about Doisy and Dam Chocolate, what would it be?

That good chocolate should have as few and as good ingredients as possible. No chemicals, additives or nasties, just cacao, sugar (or equivalent) and superfoods. We want people to know that there are better alternatives to mainstream luxury chocolate in terms of taste, flavour and nutrition (we’ve got a great suggestion for one of them!).

You both sound like real foodies - what are your three desert island dishes?

That is really tough. I’m going to take this to mean I can choose one of these three dishes for any one meal, so I’ll take a lunch and two dinners. 1. A chicken and cous cous salad with halloumi, red onion, coriander, spring onions and red chilli. 2. Christmas dinner (the king of roast dinners) for the following occasions: pre-rescue, Christmas, hungover on fermented coconut liquor. 3. Thai green curry. DELISH.

Good choices! What’s been your biggest challenge a food startup?

Probably learning how the whole industry works. I think we thought we knew everything there was to know about the food sector because we loved food. We soon found out we were wrong! All the certifications we needed, pricing structures, distribution of products etc…it was a steep but rewarding learning curve and at least now we know how little we know.

You spent a week in a pop up at Old Street Station last year. How did you find it?

We loved it! The hours were long and it was FREEZING but thanks to some speakers borrowed from the awesome Mallow & Marsh we rocked out all day long and sold loads of choc! We had such a good time speaking to people about our products, the demographic there is fantastic – people are well educated about what they eat and eager to try new things. We loved getting feedback from customers and seeing people come back to buy our products every day was very rewarding.

Why did you choose that particular location for your pop up?

The footfall. So many people come through that station in the morning and evening its crazy! Our customers worked in all sorts of cool and cutting edge sectors, tech, advertising, media etc. and it was great to get those opinion formers to try our products.

We know you guys were really popular whilst you were there. How did popping up at Old Street help your business?

From a marketing perspective it was great, supposedly over 400,000 people walked past our stall in the one week we were there so to have them see our product was incredible! We also used the week to test out some new products that weren’t quite ready for market and it was amazing to hear people’s feedback. Finally, we sold a LOT of chocolate – if you line up every bar we sold it would cross 1 and a half football fields! By the way, while looking for fun stats we worked out we also sold the same weight in chocolate of a baby elephant…

Wow, that’s a lot of chocolate! So how did you get people buying your product? Did you offer anything (e.g. tastings etc.) to supplement your offering?

We played music really loud, danced often, smelt of chocolate and had some lovely people working behind the stand. We gave out samples to people who wanted to try the choc and that was a massive contributing factor to our sales. I think being in tube station, buying gourmet food is not a natural decision, so being able to try it and actually know if you like it before you buy it makes all the difference.

So you would recommend Old Street to other small food businesses starting out?

Yes absolutely, it’s a great way to test a product whilst generating a bit of cash. It’s important to think about the cycle of people through the station (i.e. morning and evening rush hours) and to make sure your product would fit in with what people want to buy at those particular times, but with careful planning it can be incredibly beneficial.

So go on tell us…what are your business plans for the next year?

World domination obviously! We’ll continue to spread the D&D word as we expand out of London, hopefully by this time next year you’ll be able to find us in supermarkets & independent stores across the country!

And what do you think about Kitchen Table Projects’ big ideas?

Thank you for asking, KTP, we think they’re brilliant. Helping people to take ideas and turn them into reality is such a fantastic way to spend your time. The food industry is pretty mysterious when you first start and to have someone pointing you in the right direction is pretty amazing. Just don’t charge the newbies too much!