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WorldAsiaHow an accountant from Vitebsk became a successful chocolatier

How an accountant from Vitebsk became a successful chocolatier

– I wanted to try something new. I trained in SMM, food floristry, analyzed what is relevant today, what interests me. I liked the photo – a bouquet of strawberries in chocolate, then I saw a video showing how a confectioner from Moscow prepared an exquisite dessert. It became a starting point. I wanted to do the same, – recalls the events of three years ago, Anna Ostapenko, now a chocolate maker, owner of the cafe-workshop Anna Berries.

I started studying the Internet, reading articles. In order for the chocolate to harden quickly, not melt in your hands and give the products a brilliant shine, you need to temper the mass. It is the process of heating and cooling tiles to certain temperatures. I taught myself at home in the kitchen. Through trial and error I realized that regular chocolate wouldn’t work, I needed Belgian. She used up over a pound of him and strawberries before it worked. And immediately gave an announcement on the Internet: “Cooking chocolate strawberries”. Due to the lower price than competitors, I quickly received the first order: my granddaughter ordered six strawberries in milk chocolate with nuts for her grandmother. Thus, the businesswoman received the first “sweet” money she earned – about 15 Belarusian rubles (about 440 Russian rubles at that time).

Many orders come to Anna from Russia: friends, relatives order unusual gifts for loved ones in Belarus

Six months later, Ostapenko acquired the first professional equipment. I bought a device that maintains the desired chocolate temperature (bain-marie) for $300.

The husband supported Anna from the very beginning, and then he himself involved in the process. Three years ago, Alexander ran a French pet food business in Moscow, and now he and his wife are developing a confectionery business.

There were more and more orders and less space in the kitchen. Yes, and it was awkward to pull out bouquets of chocolate at the entrance. We decided to open a cafe-workshop. The premises were found suitable not in the most popular district of Vitebsk, but almost a hundred “squares”.

  • There is a café, an office and a workshop. The cafe design was developed by herself, repairs were carried out together with her husband. Although far from the center and the place is impractical, thanks to the Internet and word of mouth, people come to see us from all over the city. Success depends not only on skill, but also on the ability to promote the product, – Anna is convinced of this.
    In the cafe-workshop, the spouses not only sell sweet products of their own production, but also hold master classes, and many people want to attend. First, the chocolate makers tell the theory, then the students immediately try to apply the acquired knowledge in practice.

The Ostapenko family does not stop there. In Moscow and Minsk, they took courses on sweets, macaroons, eclairs. We decided to open a second cafe, already in Minsk: in the fall we rented a room and now live in two cities.

  • It is difficult to find employees in our niche. The work is specific. We need both confectionery skills, creativity and the ability to communicate with people. In Vitebsk, they picked up two girls, taught them how to make chocolate, and now Anastasia and Olga are doing on their own, says the owner of the confectionery business.

Today, the individual entrepreneur Ostapenko buys chocolate ingredients from the official distributor of the Belgian company in Belarus, there is a regular supplier of selected berries. The range of products from the cafe-workshop Anna Berries in Vitebsk includes strawberries covered with chocolate, as well as compositions, boxes, bouquets, truffles, candies, 3D chocolate, tiles, Japanese mochi cakes. In Minsk, according to the chocolatier, there is a large field of creativity, a different public, and therefore the assortment will be wider: we will add pastries, macaroons, Viennese waffles.

  • We have many customers from Russia. For example, a guy orders a nice gift for a girl in Vitebsk or Russian friends, relatives want to do something nice for their loved ones in the city of the Dvina. We deliver orders so far only in Vitebsk, when we open a second cafe, we will also bring desserts to the inhabitants of the capital. We do not deliver the wrong product by post, says Anna.

Case arithmetic

Since the moment Ostapenko started his business in the kitchen, the assortment, turnover, expenses and income have increased several times. Chocolate strawberries are a specific product, not for every day, so the number of orders depends on the holiday. For example, three years ago, on March 8, Anna used 5 kg of strawberries, and this year she took 180 kg of first-class berries.

It takes from a few minutes to several hours to make chocolate desserts. It all depends on the complexity and decorative elements.

Income varies according to seasonality, demand, price per berry. In winter, a kilogram of strawberries costs 50 Belarusian rubles, in summer – 20 Belarusian rubles. Buying chocolate costs 2000-3000 Belarusian rubles per month. Renting a room in Vitebsk in winter costs 1500 Belarusian rubles, in summer it is cheaper.

IP Ostapenko promptly pays a salary to himself and two employees, withholds taxes. The costs also include the purchase of packaging, tools and now capital investments in a second cafe.

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