From learning to bake to running a chocolaterie, Surbhi has come a long way
They say chocolate makes the world go round. In Surbhi Singhania’s case, chocolate is pretty much her world.
Her father was one of India’s earliest distributors of international chocolate brands and owned a chocolate warehouse. When he put up stalls at school fetes and university canteens, Surbhi made sure she accompanied him.
“Every time I shifted schools, I made new friends over a piece of chocolate. My lunchbox had the best desserts, and nothing gave me more joy than sharing them with my friends,” she says.
Fast forward 20 years, Surbhi, now 28, has found a new way to pursue her passion. She is the proud owner of a boutique chocolaterie calledin New Delhi, which specialises in high-quality artisanal chocolates and healthy bakes.
Chocolate is happiness
“I learnt the untold nuances of baking from the ladies in my family—my mother and my aunts, and an in-depth understanding of chocolate flavours and edible customisation from my father,” she says.
After graduation, Surbhi worked full-time as a business strategy consultant and also started moonlighting as an entrepreneur, making chocolates and cakes.
Starting out from her home kitchen had its fair share of trials and funny moments, Surbhi laughs.
Recalling an amusing incident, she narrates, “There was a common fridge for the household food and my bakes. Usually, most of the bakes were made on my sanitised dining table, baked in the kitchen oven, and kept in the fridge. One of my orders included ‘special and naughty’ bachelor and bachelorette cupcakes, which I always had to hide from my parents! In hindsight—I should have been paid more for those orders.”
As she experimented in her home kitchen, she realised that it was frustrating to manage both work and the idea of ChocoWishes.
“I felt like I was equally good at both. I loved my work too, but my health and work-life balance took a hit. It was then that I decided I should take a leap of faith and pursue my dream of becoming a chocolate entrepreneur. I decided to give it a couple of years, and if the business didn’t pan out as planned, I would still be employable with a good enough skillset,” she says.
In 2017, Surbhi quit her full-time job, renovated the space above her house, and turned it into a mini workshop where she could work on customised baking orders. She invested about Rs 2.5 lakh to get everything in place.
“I was a one-woman army back then, but I had a lot of support from my parents for the initial orders,” she says.
More than a sweet venture
ChocoWishes’ portfolio includes chocolates, cookies, brownies, and healthy bakes. Custom-printed chocolates, whole-wheat baked churros, and Lazy Batter cookie dough are some of its signature products.
“All our yummy treats are eggless, artisanal, and handcrafted fresh in small batches,” informs Surbhi.
ChocoWishes’ products are available on its website as well as other ecommerce sites such as Amazon and sustainable goods platforms Brown Living and Awenest. The company also specialises in custom gifting solutions for corporates and weddings and retail orders. It focuses on sustainable and reusable packaging.
From starting up in a home kitchen, Surbhi has come a long way with her chocolate venture. ChocoWishes still runs from Surbhi’s original workspace, which she says is more than adequate for now. “Having said that, we do have plans to expand and move to another space next year,” she says.
ChocoWishes is part of Meta Boost Leaders Network, an exclusive community of passionate entrepreneurs and business owners using Meta’s (formerly Facebook) suite of products (such as Pages, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger) to grow their businesses.
ChocoWishes is also an incubatee and a grant recipient under Women Startup Program 3.0 of NSRCEL, the startup incubator of Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), sponsored by Goldman Sachs and IIMB.
According to Surbhi, ChocoWishes’ B2B clients have included M&S India, Gulab, Ibis Hotels, IFF, Stonex, and Diamond Constellation. “Our average ticket size for B2B clients is around Rs 35K, and Rs 2.5K for B2C clients.”
Creating social impact
Despite being a small business, Surbhi wants to be a strong voice supporting ecofriendly and sustainable packaging in the food industry. She also wants to create an impact socially.
“We are working with NGOs to offer skill development training sessions for women and eventually hire prospective candidates from there,” she says.
ChocoWishes’ team includes four full-time employees and three part-time employees, all women.
“We are completely a women-operated business. Chocolate-making skills can be utilised in many ways—like soap-making and candle-making. And teaching underprivileged women to utilise these skills to earn a livelihood is a dream,” says Surbhi.
She says most of the raw material for ChocoWishes is sourced from local businesses.
“We’re trying to partner with as many women-owned businesses as we can for our packaging and other requirements.”
The founder of ChocoWishes says, in the short term, the plan is to strengthen manufacturing and expand its B2B clientele and online retail presence.
The long-term plan is to venture into offline retail, mainly through shelf spaces and collaborations. “For that, we need a strong manufacturing backbone, which will make it super easy for us to scale from one retailer to many,” concludes Surbhi.
Edited by Swetha Kannan