When Kathy Graham moved to the U.S. from England, one of the things she missed most was the delicious chocolate. Find out how her craving inspired her to start her business, Ascot Royale Chocolate Company in this short interview.
>>Beth Holbrook: For more than three millennia, one food has been used in sacred offerings and ceremonial gatherings, a divine balance between sweet and bitter, in rich cream or luscious dark, is craved and praised the world over. Of course, there’s regular chocolate and there’s mouthwatering, handcrafted English chocolate.
I’m Beth Holbrook with the Zions Bank Business Resource Center. I’m here today with Kathy Graham, founder of Ascot Royale Chocolate Company, and we’re here today talking about her experience with the Business Resource Center. Kathy, thank you for being here today.
>>Kathy Graham: It’s nice to be here.
>>Beth Holbrook: So, chocolate. Tell me more.
>>Kathy Graham: Okay, well chocolate – most people love chocolate and coming from England, it’s something that is almost a passion over there, everything- you can get chocolate bars over there, you can get boxes of chocolates – regular boxes of chocolates that you just pull off the shelves – and it’s all creamy, rich, lovely chocolate. And so when I moved over here – I’ve been over here for about 28 years or so – and couldn’t get into your American chocolate, sorry, but really craved the chocolate from back home. And so when I started making chocolates, learnt how to do that over 20 years ago, decided that if I was going to do it, if I was going to make chocolates, it had to be the way I was used to and that was with the really creamy milk chocolate, and I make some- a couple of incredible products. I make traditional English toffee with creamy milk chocolate on, and a Windsor honeycomb that also has this lovely chocolate, which is reminiscent of a Crunchie bar over in England, so.
>>Beth Holbrook: Thank you. Okay, so chocolate. I have sampled your chocolates and oh my gosh there is a huge difference. But tell me, how does Ascot Royale – how does that represent you?
>>Kathy Graham: Well when I- you know, when you’re starting a company, you have to come up with a name and one of the- you know, threw out a bunch of different names, and I thought it has to- if I have a name, I want it to be a part of who I am and what I represent, and the name Ascot Royale was the name kept thrown around and came up with and decided on. Ascot is where I’m from. It’s a little village. It’s 30 miles southwest of London, it’s six miles from Windsor, Windsor Castle, and you know, it’s- Ascot is, they say, a little sleepy village that just comes alive during, I think it’s the second week of June, that they have the Royal Ascot Races and the reason it’s called the Royal Ascot Races is that the Queen rides from Windsor to Ascot and watches the races, and it just all felt right. This is who I am, so, my company.
>>Beth Holbrook: I love the story behind that because I think representing and branding yourself as a business owner is really, really critical. So tell me some of the struggles that you faced as an early business owner.
>>Kathy Graham: Yeah, okay. Well, I think the first step was getting over the fear, you know, “I know I want to do this,” but getting over that fear, “Right. So I’m going to do this. Right, I can do this. Let’s get busy with it,” and then I had a product, but how to get it out there? And I think part of the struggles was trying to get my head around “Where do I go? How do I start selling this to people, short of the friends and family that knew about me?” And I think that’s one of the things, also maybe things like the taxes that you have to deal with, getting licensed with the state – I’ve got this beautiful kitchen downstairs in my basement that’s all up and licensed – and just going through those steps and what do you do, and how do you do it, and am I doing the right thing? And so those were big issues for me.
>>Beth Holbrook: So tell us about your experiences, then, and why you decided to go to the Business Resource Center, and maybe anything else that you’ve done.
>>Kathy Graham: Okay. Well, because of the fear factor – I’m doing it by myself – and so I found that like the Business Resource Center, I’ve also participated in the SCORE organization, which are these great business people that help individuals, such as myself, all free of charge, and I’ve also been lucky enough to participate in the GE Banking on Women program, and I found that all of these – the people that I have met have been incredible – mentors that are there that will help you as much as you want to be helped. So if I’ve got some things that I’m struggling with, then I’ll call and make an appointment and meet with the mentors and they will encourage and support wherever they can. I still have to go do the hard work, but they’re there saying “Well this is what I think,” or “You could try this or that,” and then you have to go with what’s comfortable with you, but it’s the support, I think, more than anything.
>>Beth Holbrook: From the business perspective, you obviously know the chocolate portion of that, but tell me about the business side of things and how did you decide to – how is it that you are actually trying to run your business? What is it that you are wanting to do?
>>Kathy Graham: Well I want as many people as possible, in the state of Utah or across the U.S., to try my product and to- I mean, I guess my thoughts are start a little chocolate revolution in the U.S. of A., and to really experience good, high quality chocolate and I just have this great dream that I believe anyone can do it and that I’m out to set out and cause that revolution to happen.
>>Beth Holbrook: I so appreciate hearing all of your stories, Kathy. This has been fantastic, thank you for joining us today.
>>Kathy Graham: Thank you
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