London Life & Harrods
At sixteen I escaped the confines of the convent I had attended and moved to a London day school. But this liberation was tinged with huge sadness, for this was the year that my father died unexpectedly. He drowned while swimming alone in the rocky Atlantic waters in the Gambia, where he was working at the time. This was a shocking event for all the family, and brought us closer than ever. Overnight my mother had to become the main breadwinner. We all did what we could to help run the household and found many ways to celebrate life, most of them taking the form of cooking and eating delicious meals.
Given my family situation, I needed to earn money to exist as a student and eke out my meagre grant. I visited my old convent school friend Nicky Cousins, who was working in Harrods Chocolate Department while studying. As I waited for her to break for lunch I got lost in a reverie, breathing in the wonderful smells, looking at the displays and taking in the atmosphere. I was brought back to earth by the voice of the young and extremely handsome confectionery department buyer asking, ‘Would you like a job?’ A few weeks later I was in a white coat, working under the guiding hand of benign grandmother Edie.
My time at Harrods was enlightening and I had learnt a lot about selling chocolate, but knew there was room for a radically different retail approach: an indulgent, fantastical one, a chocolate paradise.
After graduating from art school, it was then that I had my light bulb moment. I wanted to start my own business and knew exactly what it would be: my dream chocolate shop.