Meredith and I met over chocolate, at least twice before we realised we'd actually already met, twice before. Sometimes, the universe has a way of telling you who you need in your life, and when. Not only do we share a passion for chocolate - in part the source of our name [and yes, a chocolate flavour will finally be landing, in 2020] - but we also share an interest in mindfulness. For me, food is a source of mindfulness meditation; in fact it is the epitome of, for in sourcing, creating and preparing food with care, for those few seconds, minutes, hours, every sense and ounce of concentration is in the present, on what's in front of you. For Meredith, Calm Cocoa is where Mindfulness Meditation and Chocolate meet; it's the ultimate synergy, using all of your senses as they are enraptured by chocolate, as a guide for your practice.
Meredith is a qualified Meditation teacher, and holds regular Chocolate Meditations. And only this month, launched the incredible hot chocolate brand that is Calm Cocoa. Encouraging us all to take our Calm Cocoa moment. And when it comes in the form of hand-grated, British-made dark chocolate, recycled glass jars [or home-compostable bags], it is what we want to be drinking this, and every winter.
1. Can you give us an introduction - what is Calm Cocoa about?
My business blends mindfulness, meditation and chocolate. I'm a meditation teacher and self-taught chocolatier; part of my work involves running meditation sessions and the other means spending time in the kitchen creating things with chocolate, including my hot chocolate range. I'm a bit of a chocolate geek so wanted to create a meaningful business, but also one that meant I could taste (and share) lots of chocolate!
My Calm Cocoa hot chocolate range brings to life the principles of slowing down and taking some time out to actually taste. It incorporates principles of mindful eating, including considering where the food we put in our bodies comes from.
2. Where did the idea for Calm Cocoa originally come from?
Calm Cocoa actually started out as a blend for my mindful hot chocolate meditation sessions. Sipping hot chocolate is a really powerful way to connect with the senses and having something delicious to focus on can also help with a little less mind wandering. Each packet comes with a little self-guided meditation card so people can try the experience for themselves at home. Sustainability is also at the heart of what I'm doing, from my packaging to where I source my chocolate.
3. What is one thing you wish people knew about Calm Cocoa?
That I use some of the best (in my humble opinion) quality dark chocolate made in the UK. Most of my chocolate comes from a beautiful Suffolk-based company Pump Street Chocolate and it's still my favourite high quality chocolate (and they're lovely people too!).
4. Describe your workplace in 3 words:
Chocolatey, peaceful, aromatic
5. What's the long term, big picture dream, for Calm Cocoa?
My plan in 2020 is to launch a traveling Calm Cocoa by Meredith Whitely popup experience that takes my hot chocolate and meditation to some different locations. I really want to reach more people and spread the hot chocolate love.
6. How do you hope to make a difference?
By teaching people about chocolate and why it's important to ask where it comes from, but also to give people easily accessible tips for meditation and self-care that can be incorporated into everyday life. I'm particularly passionate about supporting people with stress-triggered digestive issues as that's one of the main reasons why I started my business and trained as a meditation teacher.
7. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Don't forget to celebrate wins, big and small. Sometimes when you're in the midst of running a business you can forget to stop and smell the roses, and to really acknowledge how far you've come. It's something I'm still working on!
8. What's your favourite Winter meal?
Other than chocolate? I actually love something really soothing and comforting, like a beautiful savoury vegetarian wellington filled with roasted root veg, mushrooms and feta, and served with a big pile of rocket generously smothered in olive oil. Weirdly I also love fish and chips by the sea side on a really cold day.
9. Where would we find you on a Sunday morning?
I try to keep Sundays as a non-work day whenever I can so Sunday morning normally means lying in bed a little longer with a cup of tea, a good book and my little dog Taz to snuggle up to (and sometimes my husband too).
10. What's your number one food waste fighting tip?
Not to buy too much in the first place! A shopping list and a little planning is always handy to make sure you don't over buy. And if you don't have too much in the cupboard or fridge unused food is less likely to get hidden at the back and then end up in the bin.
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All photography © Calm Cocoa