‘Guilt free chocolate’ – amongst other things…


For all of you looking for the holy grail that IS guilt free chocolate, Jo Fairley has the answer!

The founder of Green & Blacks chocolate explained to us when we met her recently that the low sugar content and correspondingly low GI of her recipe brought us as close as possible to that elusive product.

The origins of the brand were very interesting. Jo was a journalist who was married to the owner of Whole Foods. When he was given a sample of this new recipe chocolate, though he loved it, it didn’t fit into his product range.

At this point, Jo decided it tasted so good, she’d take it and launch what is now one of the biggest chocolate brands.

The path to success sounds surprisingly smooth, when Jo explains it.

  • She had £20,000 from the sale of a flat, which she invested in the first batch of chocolate.
  • The branding was decided on a yellow legal pad over a glass of red wine in ‘about ten minutes’.
  • She carried on working as a journalist while developing the company, and drew on her husband’s team for support at events, and with managing her finances, even taking up residence on their stands.

There were some lessons from the origin story that were particularly pertinent though:

  1. Be generous. Jo had a new recipe chocolate that was the darkest available in the UK at the time. She knew she had to get people to taste it if she was to be successful, so she sent a press release to everyone she could think of, with a sample of the chocolate. Eventually Sainsbury’s buyer contacted her to discuss the potential for her to supply their stores, because they’d tasted it at a dinner party. If you don’t have samples of a product to give away, Jo recommended testimonials, to be used far and wide. They buy trust and give reassurance to potential customers.
  2. Make time for self-care. Jo felt it to be essential that business owners make time to look after themselves. She particularly recommended yoga and meditation, and uses the Calm.com app every day.
  3. Ethics. One of Jo’s strongest influencers was Anita Roddick, of Body Shop fame. One of Anita’s mantras was ‘Being good is good business’, and Jo ran Green & Blacks with the same approach. The communities that work to produce the chocolate have been transformed by the investment that the company has made into them over the years.

We thoroughly enjoyed meeting Jo and being able to hear her story, and of course sample the beautiful chocolate!


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