Louis Barnett is one of the youngest chocolatiers in the world. His company Chokolit he opened in 12 years.
Louis Barnett - 20-year-old owner of a chocolate factory in England. In an interview with "Letidoru" he shared his story and spoke about how the disease pushed him to become the youngest entrepreneur in the country. - Louis, when you became interested in cooking chocolate? Have you always wanted to be a chocolatier, or do you have other dreams? - As a child, I had two main interests, that really makes me happy - food and animals. Therefore, as a child, I always imagined myself a chef, or owner of the farm. Chocolate I loved ever since I can remember. When I was about 5-6 years old, I liked not only to try different kinds of chocolate, but also find their recipes and cook for yourself. I was looking for different books, watching movies and programs in which well-known chefs share their secrets and tricks, and then try to do it all by yourself at home. It has been my hobby since childhood, but chocolatier career I did not think years before 11.
- How did it happen so that your hobby turned into a profession? - When I was 11 years old, I have prepared a chocolate cake on the birthday of his aunt, and this cake was a huge success. I am often asked to become cook something to order for various celebrations and parties. And I realized that this is what I really want to do. It happened just when my parents were forced to pick me up from school because of problems with the training, after I was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia and several other disorders. Study always gave me very hard and I knew from an early age that to build an academic career I do not succeed. In my case, it was almost impossible to count on admission to a good university and try to be on par with their peers. So when I had the opportunity to do business professionally chocolate, I immediately realized that this is my completely focused in this direction. For 12 years, I started my own company and my hobby turned into a full business. Around the same time I went to my first specialized courses cooking chocolate.
- Establishment of the company was your own idea, or someone suggested and pushed you in this direction? - No, I came to this completely independently. Although initially it was not a business idea as such. The fact that the first time I received orders mainly from relatives and friends, but soon began to emerge orders from foreign customers, and some of them asked him to write out a receipt for payment. Therefore, I had to register a company in order to be able to execute all officially. - How big was your company when you started it? - The first couple of years, it was a very small, family run business. We did not have any special powers, facilities or employees. In fact, everything was done by yourself in your own kitchen. Working mom, dad and me. Eventually, when I was 14, I moved to my first professional factory. Our business has grown rapidly from very small to quite large - if in January 2007, we have taken total 165 boxes of chocolate, in December of the same year their number increased to 100 thousand. Now we have about 15 workers in the UK and a number of partners around the world as we focus on exports.
- What was the reaction of your parents when you told them that you open your own business? - When my parents took me out of school, they are very much worried about my future. They knew that I needed something to get excited, so supportive of me and helped, although they, in the beginning, did not participate in the business. - What was it like to be an entrepreneur at such an early age? How seriously do you perceive the people around them, and in particular, other market participants? - In our society there is a lot of prejudice. It is often assumed that if you are young, then you have enough experience. But, frankly, I'm serious difficulties in this respect, not experienced. I myself went to the meeting, held talks with potential partners. And if at first I had to make an effort to ensure that they started to take me seriously, in the end, they tried my products, which spoke for itself, and their attitude completely changed. My birthday became for me an advantage. People saw that I had already done in this period and saw the potential. Also, when I began to supply its supermarkets chocolate in the country, I became the youngest supplier in England. About me started writing in newspapers and on the news, and it really helped to change the attitude of others - no one took me as a child.
- And you yourself took his business seriously, or was it a game? - The first half of the year - a year, I think I have not thought about it as a business. It was an adventure. However, by the age of 13, is no longer a game and has turned into a real job. I began to realize that this is my opportunity in life - not just what I like to do, but what I need to do if I want to achieve something and succeed. I realized that this is my unique opportunity, and I had to use it. It was very important to me. Business made me grow up very quickly. If you decide to be a musician, then no one will expect you to perform a symphony in your first week. But in business, it's what you expect from. If you make a mistake, you lose your money and confidence. In 12 years, I was in an adult environment in the real adult world. I had to work 7 days a week, 13-14 hours a day. But the price of their own business and success. You must be fully committed to what you're doing, often to the detriment of social life. - You will never regret that you had to grow up so early? - No, absolutely not. My occupation has always brought me satisfaction and compensate for what I could not get in school. - What was the role of your parents in your professional development? - I always get a huge emotional support from their families. And after that, my business has become much more serious, and began to appear big contracts with supermarkets, my parents joined. Now our responsibilities are clearly defined - my mom runs the direction of external and strategic communication, and the father controls the process in factories, as well as monitors the health and safety issues. - What are your future professional plans? - Recently I was offered the post of representative of one of the world's largest supplier of chocolate. This is a big step in my career. In addition, I hope that this will help the development and my own company. In the next two years, I plan to focus on export, mainly to the United States and Latin America, as well as in Asia.