Winning a gold ticket to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory is the ultimate dream of smol children the world over.
heart racing even looking at this gif
But part of growing up is learning that the factory doesn’t actually exist, Johnny Depp is a dog-smuggler and that eating Augustus Gloop-amounts of chocolate is real bad for your body.
Most of us then adjust our dreams to more realistic standards.
But not this Aussie woman.
Emica Penklis is the founder of local Sydney business Loco Love, which specialises in artisan chocolates that are vegan, organic, free from gluten and refined sugars. It’s hard to believe, but they’re actually good for you. (And this writer can confirm, thanks to a very kind office delivery from Emica, that they taste as scrumptious as they look.)
We had a chat to Emica about how she made her dream of running an independent choccie business a reality, and asked her for advice she’d give to anyone looking to branch out from the comfort of 9-to-5.
PTV: How did you come up with the idea of making choccies?
Working as a model for quite a few years, it was important to not ruin my skin or put on weight, so I was always looking for a healthy alternative. I’d seek out all the health food stores – I’ve tried every healthy treat in the world. Modelling gave me so much freedom but it eventually slows down, and it’s really hard to adjust to a normal life. I studied naturopathy while working, and started making bliss balls and cakes. Then I thought “I’m gonna make this really simple,” and do just one product – the Bounty Truffle.
PTV: When did you start Loco Love?
So it started it out three year ago, On May 23rd actually, so almost three years ago to the day. I didn’t take it seriously for the first two years. It just started as a lifestyle business, with all of the products made at home. Then I took it to a store, and started selling out.
PTV: You’re obviously pretty passionate about your chocolates being free of additives and other nasties. Why do you think eating organic is important?
I feel like the earth is suffering right now, and we can change that with our choices. So I guess chosing organic takes a toxic load off the planet. I would rather eat food that’s not sprayed with chemicals that deplete our soil – it’s more sustainable. Our bodies are really the main places we need to live, hence why I chose to not use refined sugar, dairy and things that have been scientifically proven to be bad for health.
It’s all about the nutrients, that’s the thing. You need to eat more with nutritionally-devoid foods, so you’re constantly hungry. Whereas with good quality food, you don’t need as much.
PTV: Starting a business can be really tough. How did you manage to get Loco Love off the ground?
I started the business with no money. On a tax return, I received a thousand dollars, so I bought a mixer, and started there. Word of mouth was the biggest thing in getting the product out there. And the product spoke for itself – I didn’t have branding for the first year and a half! I’ve done everything backwards. I don’t even have a website yet. At the moment, I’m going back and I’m doing all the stuff I should have done at the beginning.
PTV: For a lot of our readers, it’d be a huge move ditching their comfy jobs to work on their passion projects full-time. What advice would you give to those who are considering taking the risk?
i just started doing it. My advice for readers who don’t know what they want to do with their lives – just do what you’re interested in, stop questioning yourself, don’t wait for the opportunity. Just create it. Once you start, the fear begins to fall away and you realise it’s not that hard – starting is just the thing that separates the people who are doing really well from the people who are lazy. Having your own business is challenging. There are so many formative decisions that you need to make, and moments where you’ll think “I don’t know what I’m doing,” and you just have to learn how to do things on the go.
PTV: Surely there are days where you lack a bit of motivation and find it hard to get out of bed, right? What are some of the challenges involved in running your business?
As the business grows, it gets more serious and less creative as there are so many e-mails to answer. I understand that side now. In honesty, I haven’t had a day where I didn’t wanna get up. I’m still inspired because it’s my own baby, but sometimes if it gets too much I just turn off my phone and go for a walk. I meditate, and that definitely helps me deal with the pressure and the stress. I guess I just get over it. I’m so lucky to be able to do this – there’s no way I can feel sorry for myself. There’s a more stoic approach [to stress] – get over it. I try to have gratitude.
PTV: So how exactly are the chocolates made?
They’re made in a commercial kitchen, one I share with another businesses. I’ve been supported by some other up-and-coming food businesses, which has been so helpful. The kitchen is a bit of an incubator space for start-up brands. But potentially i’ll be working from my own factory very soon!
PTV: Talk us through the flavours.
So there’s Bounty (the mouthwatering original), Salted Caramel Crunch, Hazelnut Praline, Choc Berry Cream, Wild Orange with Reishi & Chaga, Matcha & Mint and Ginger & Pistachio.
Loco Love is stocked at Wholefoods House in Waterloo, Maloneys in Batemans Bay, O Organic Cafe in Surry Hills and The Farm Byron Bay. Emica’s launching an online chocolate bar that’ll deliver to SYD, MEL & BRIS really soon, so keep your eyes peeled on www.locolove.chocolate.com. In the meantime, you can stay updated by following Loco Love on Insta HERE.
Photo: Willy Wonka.