Young entrepreneur Sofia Corgier shunned the traditional path of school, sixth form and university and instead took over the successful business, Coco Confectionery, in Nailsworth at the age of just 19.
The traditional sweet shop boasts more than 150 jars of sweets, many of them vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free. Sofia and her sister Olivia also serve hot drinks as well as a range of ice creams.
“I saw the potential that Coco had, I knew it was in a special location, with a unique and marketable offering.
“I learn best by doing rather than studying and wanted to gain a range of skills through experiencing first-hand how to run a business,” explained Sofia.
“I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I hadn’t done this, and I am still open to the prospect of getting a degree at some point in the future!”
Sofia believes good marketing, social media and customer service is key: “Don’t do it if you don’t get excited about what it is you are doing. Each industry is incredibly complicated and requires particular skills and knowledge that we will never appreciate unless we have worked within it. Having your own business isn’t always glamorous, but it is fulfilling.”
However, five years on, Sofia is now looking to move on to a new challenge and is selling the business as a going concern and would assist the new owners: “I will happily show you the ropes during the handover and share with you all of the information you need.”
The business has a thriving online presence and a loyal customer base: “It’s a real mixture of locals, Coco has daily regulars who come for a coffee and a conversation on their lunch break, day off or route home.
“Families visit without fail on weekends or after school and older customers look forward to their weekly bag of chocolates to go with their evening cup of tea. Many choose to shop at Coco for special occasions, instead of buying from large corporations – that is true loyalty because we aren’t always cheaper, but you can guarantee those few extra pounds will go back into the local economy and not some billionaire’s pocket.”
During the pandemic online sales soared: “Not only has this allowed me to open the shop up to the rest of the UK, but my customers can send their favourite Coco treats to friends and family.
“Coco’s website is the reason it managed to keep going throughout each lockdown and has been a special way for people to send ‘pick me up’ parcels to one another,” said Sofia.
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