As part of my featured small businesses, I took the hard task of taste testing vegan brownies! I know, it's a hard job but someone had to do it! I met Gemma at a craft and food fair a few years ago and we hit it off like a house on fire, and I very kindly offered to self appoint myself as vegan flavour tester! I had a chat with Gemma about brownies, small business and peanut butter!
1. How did Dark Matters come about?
The business itself came about from a frustration at my work situation, alongside a desire to start another luxury food business utilising all the fantastic events and markets along the South. I'd had a small chocolate business trading in London on Greenwich Market, so I had experience and knew what it took to build a successful product and a brand, and, to be honest, just thought 'what have I got to lose?'. I think balls and a bit of a 'f*ck it' attitude can help alot when you're starting a small business, haha!
2. Why are brownies so important?
I've worked and managed a number of cafes and bakeries, and know that when it comes down to it, its the brownies that tend to be the first flying out the door in the morning. Not sure what it is, but sometimes only a brownie will do! I also love chocolate, having worked with it a lot in the past, and am a huge believer in the benefits of dark chocolate, so wanted to focus the attention not only on the gorgeous brownie itself, but also on the awesome quality of the chocolate used to make it. I've eaten a lot of brownies over the years, good and bad, and they can vary so enormously - which is fantastic and everyones different, but I want people to come to us in the knowledge that the brownie they'll be eating will be choc full of choc!
3. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is always such a rotten question because business changes so fast and doesn't half throw you some curve-balls, but in 5 years we should be in our own unit/kitchen/bakery/multipurpose brownie palace, and I'll be joined by a little team of brownie-lovin' superstars. I'm keen to give people the chance I was given in one of my first jobs, without which I might not have ever progressed from being a hobby baker, so I'd love to run an apprenticeship scheme at some point, offering keen young talented people the chance to learn alongside me and getting stuck in with all aspects of the business!
4. Why is it important to support small businesses?
Because basically, without small business, we would have no economy. Small business accounts for something like 99.3% of all private sector business, so we may be small but we make a huge impact. Big business and corporations tend to look to the small businesses for trends and ideas, and whilst you can usually buy a similar products for cheaper with the larger businesses, you'll be sacrificing quality, encouraging mass-production and possibly endorsing sketchy business ethics. As consumers we can make an enormous difference simply by changing the way we choose to spend our hard earned cash. The recession and fall out since has lifted the curtain a bit on the way big-business has been allowed to operate for decades, and I think we're finally getting to a point where we're willing to reject it and go back to a simpler way of life. Its a very exciting time, and every pound you spend with a small independent goes towards making a huge difference to all of our futures. Preach over.
5. What’s your favourite flavour right now?
I am fully addicted to peanut butter...but just on its own, with a teaspoon, not in a brownie! But if I had to choose I would say mint choc chip, because...mint choc chip!
Gemma's brownies are available from fairs around the south, selected shops and cafes, and online here
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