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Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

Connecting women and opportunity

Womanthology is a digital magazine and professional community powered by female energy and ingenuity.

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Is there more to life than chocolate? Chocolatier, Lotta Andonian, Founder of new artisan brand eat chic on sweet inspiration and chocolate infatuation

eat chic chocolates

Lotta Andonian founded eat chic, a new artisan chocolate brand in May 2014 when she decided to create an organic version of the popular US favourite, chocolate peanut butter cups. Working nights and weekends alongside her full-time job in fashion marketing, Lotta began by selling the chocolates at small markets, select cafés, and through private orders placed by friends via Instagram, to test the market. The chocolates were a hit and Lotta left her job in late September 2014 to grow the chocolate business full-time.

eat chic founder Lotta Andonian
Lotta Andonian

“…I had no social life and worked over 120 hours a week. My kitchen shifts were at night, so I went from my 9-6 day job to the kitchen, stayed there until about 1am, got in bed around 2.30am, and got up to go to work at 7am. Then I sold at 1-2 small markets on the weekends, so yeah, it was pretty intense..!”

eat chic – sweet inspiration and infatuation

I’ve always been very into food and cooking, and I used to bring treats into the office for team meetings and events. (I worked in digital marketing at Farfetch.) There were a few people with dietary restrictions in the office and I used to feel bad that they were always excluded from the birthday celebrations filled with store-bought cakes, so I started to experiment with vegan and gluten-free baking.

One day, my Swedish coworker Alex tried a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for the first time and became infatuated with them. I used to buy them for him at the corner shop downstairs, which was hilarious because he is very into organic food and was growing his own sprouts at the time, but then ate these terribly processed “chocolates”.

Not at all prepared for the reaction

eat chic chocolatesSo I decided to make my own version of chocolate peanut butter cups for the next team meeting, using organic chocolate and peanut butter, and adding Maldon sea salt to counteract the sweetness. I brought a tray into the office and was not at all prepared for the reaction they received! I got a few marriage proposals that day, and ruined Reese’s for quite a few people.

I didn’t give too much more thought to the chocolates other than thinking that I would put the recipe on my rarely-updated food blog (, but people kept asking me when I would make them again and a few people wanted me to sell them to local cafés so they could buy them with coffee.

Taking my friends’ and co-workers’ encouragement seriously

At the same time, there was a contest with Samsung and Gizzi Erskine on Facebook to start a food business, so I decided at the last minute to make a video and apply for that. I did not win, but it did get me thinking about taking my friends’ and co-workers’ encouragement seriously and looking into selling the chocolates. 

In May 2014, I made a website on Tumblr, registered a food business, saw that the Meringue Girls had just opened a bakery and were looking for bakers and confectioners to rent shifts, and applied to a few small markets to test the water. I now rent some shifts from them and store everything there. (It’s one thing for people to like free office treats, and an entirely different thing for people to pay for your products.)

Working 120 hours a week: Full-time, nights and weekends too, but I loved running my own business

eat chic founder Lotta AndonianThe response was incredible, and I loved seeing people enjoying my chocolates, especially people with dietary restrictions who were so happy to find gluten-free / vegan / dairy-free / soya-free treats they actually liked! Even though I was working nights and weekends on top of my full-time job, I loved running my own business and knew that I wanted to do that full-time instead.

I had no social life and worked over 120 hours a week. My kitchen shifts were at night, so I went from my 9-6 day job to the kitchen, stayed there until about 1am, got in bed around 2.30am, and got up to go to work at 7am. Then I sold at 1-2 small markets on the weekends, so yeah, it was pretty intense! The worst part for me was that I love cooking and because I was so busy and always moving, I did not have time to do that.

Committing to chocolate full-time

Once I’d seen that people loved the chocolates and were more than happy to pay for them, I reached a point where I had to commit to the chocolates full-time in order to grow the business out of just a small, private order company.

I got to the point where I was not contacting new stockists or doing any sort of press outreach, because I was worried that the orders I would receive would be larger than I could manage. I was only able to do the markets and the small café orders I was receiving when I also worked 40 hours a week elsewhere, and I saw that there was much more potential for the chocolates than that.

The combination of chocolate and peanut butter – something extraordinary

There iseat chic oversized chocolates something extraordinary about the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, but the well-known chocolate peanut butter cup is made with atrocious ingredients and leaves you feeling a bit sickly from the artificial and overbearingly sweet taste.

I saw gap in the market for a version of this proven combination using high quality, organic, gluten-free, vegan ingredients. The addition of Maldon sea salt on top also creates a perfectly balanced sweet / salty chocolate that is very modern in taste.

Delicious filling that doesn’t need any other fats added

I focus only on making chocolates filled with high protein nut butters rather than your typical chocolate truffle that is primarily made with butter and cream, or oils in the case of vegan truffles. Using thick nut butter allows us to create a delicious filling that does not need any other fats added to it.

Our chocolates, the dark chocolates in particular, are also less sweet than your typical chocolate truffle. Our dark chocolate peanut butter cup topped with Maldon sea salt is our signature and original chocolate. Made with organic 73% dark Couverture chocolate, palm-oil free organic peanut butter, pink Himalayan salt, vanilla extract, unrefined sugar, and flaky Maldon sea salt, it is naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soya-free.

We also have a milk chocolate version that is truer to the original American peanut butter cup for people with more of a sweet tooth, as well as a white chocolate version made with the only white chocolate I’ve ever enjoyed eating (by Montezuma). It is dangerous for me to be around the peanut butter filling though because I could eat it by the spoonful!

Setting up eat chic as a food business

eat chic chocolatesI Googled my way through the process. I spent nights reading through food safety and business websites to make sure I got all of the certifications and insurances to legally and safely sell in the UK. To be honest, I would recommend speaking to someone who set up their own business as well first rather than just relying on the Internet.

Pop-ups – lower cost, lower risk and great for locating the correct place for your target demographic

Pop-ups are lower cost and lower-risk than investing in a permanent location. They are also better for testing different locations and making sure you are locating in the correct place for your target demographic. Also once you have made the initial investment in banners and displays for a pop-up, you can pretty much re-use most of it at each new location, which keeps costs down as well.

Foot traffic is extremely important when you are a new brand and have not done much marketing. You can either choose a location that might be cheaper and off-the-beaten path and invest a lot of time and / or money into building hype for the product, or choose a high-traffic location and create an appealing display to catch thousands of eyes. I prefer the latter because it also makes it easier to have repeat customers.

Repeat customers coming back every day

eat chic Old Street pop-upBy the end of our pop-up at Old Street there were people who would come every day with £2 in their hands and just grab their preferred chocolate before getting on the tube. I loved seeing that!

It’s also important to consider the type of foot traffic the location gets and whether those people are in your target demographic. An earlier pop-up I had in Camden was relocated to a desolate spot across the street from fried chicken shops and a Poundland. If people are spending £3 on lunch, they probably aren’t going to pick up a £16 box of chocolates too, and that was definitely not a profitable location for us. (We left that spot pretty quickly.)

The gift of social media

Social media is a wonderful, free way to get the word out about our chocolates. I’m pretty terrible at using Facebook and Twitter, but love the visual nature of Instagram. One of our first stockists, Brooklyn Coffee, contacted us on Instagram, and most of my orders in the early days were also from Instagram.

Some people even just order the chocolate in the picture without knowing what the flavour is, which shows how visually-driven today’s consumers are. I’d certainly recommend social media for start-ups, because it is a great way to connect with customers and build brand awareness quickly.

Treat mistakes or setbacks as learning experiences

eat chic box of two chocolatesMy dad told me to treat mistakes or setbacks as valuable learning experiences that help improve the business in the long run, rather than as failures that should have been prevented in the first place.

Sometimes I would look back on something and regret it, but in reality as long as you are learning from your experiences and not just repeating the same mistakes over and over again, they just make you and your business stronger. Also there is no way of knowing exactly how something will turn out, so you can’t be hard on yourself when it doesn’t turn out as you’d wanted it to.

So even if a pop-up turned out to be unprofitable, for example, as long as you learn a lot from the experience and are able to bounce back from it, then you should still consider it a positive experience.

Plans for eat chic

I hope to be stocked in places like Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods, whole foods and gourmet shops, and to have peanut butter cups on the counters of independent cafés in the UK and beyond.

I want to do more weddings and creative events like our “guilty pleasures” chocolate and drinks pairing at The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, and take part in some fun, innovative photo shoots with the chocolates.

I love independent fashion, music, and film magazines, and it would be so cool to do a themed event with a magazine. I am also constantly designing new chocolates and look forward to adding more varieties to our selection. Plus our webshop just went live, so I’m looking forward to being able to supply a peanut butter and chocolate fix to people outside of London, too.

Building our a team in the near future to help me achieve all of this would definitely be a plus! Eventually I’d love to open chocolate shops with a kitchen in the back and a proper coffee bar in the front, so people could enjoy fresh chocolates and excellent coffee.

Finally, I hosted a cooking class about “eating chic” in the past and would also like to continue to help people find a balanced approach to cooking and eating whether by doing more cooking classes, actually updating that food blog, or writing another recipe book. (Because there’s more to life than chocolate… Isn’t there?)


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