The power of social media can have a pretty strong pull for business as one women’s network has proved.
Stuck with an extraordinarily large order, speciality chocolate supplier Pascale Van Riet reached out to the owner of her women’s business network to try to find a solution. The solution was a tweet, just a maximum of 280 characters to help solve a problem of too much chocolate.
Belgium born Pascale Van Riet began her Irish company Phoenix Delite out of a necessity. She had been made redundant from work in 2009 and needed to find a way to pay the bills. After a stressful few sleepless nights Van Riet got up in the middle of the night for a sweet treat, she reached for a big box of sugar free chocolates in her kitchen and suddenly she had her business idea. There were no companies supplying tasty sugar free chocolates in Ireland and she decided to become just that.
“The next morning, I called the chocolate manufacturer in Belgium, two weeks later he came over for a meeting and he gave me some advice, and that’s how I got started,” says Van Riet. “I also did a Fetac level 6 entrepreneurs’ course because I knew nothing about starting your own business.”
“In 2010 I started doing Farmleigh Food Market and slowly but surely I was making a few bob for myself and in the summer I also make cordial which sells really well at the market. I haven’t had any markets since Christmas 2019,” she says.
Phoenix Delite sells handmade Belgian chocolates and truffles, sugar free Belgian chocolates and for those who are lactose intolerant, lactose free Belgian chocolate bars suitable for vegans and vegetarians too.
In July of this year Van Riet was let down but a business who ordered a large quantity of vegan and gluten free chocolate covered hazelnuts, 216kg of them to be exact. With this large order of chocolates, and nowhere for them to be shipped, she turned to Samantha Kelly, owner of the Women’s Inspire Network to air her woes.
Kelly suggested Van Riet write a tweet telling her followers what had happened and see if she could generate any business from it to make a dent in the chocolate order.
Hi Twitter friends I had a big order and they've cancelled. They ordered 200kg high quality vegan & gluten free chocolate covered hazelnuts. Is anyone is interested in buying high quality vegan and gluten free chocolate covered hazelnuts? Thanks from this small business owner. - Phoenix Delite (@Phoenixdelite)
In true Twitter style the tweet was retweeted between their followers and the orders started flooding in.
“Initially I just wanted someone to talk to because I know Sam a good few years and she is always good to listen and always take the time. I explained the whole situation and she said tweet about it and people will help you,” says Van Reit. “And oh my god are they helping. They are ordering, they are posting pictures and tweeting how good they are. I’m so lucky.”
“I put it up on Saturday late afternoon and by Tuesday I already had 100 orders which is a lot,” she adds. “I’m sure by the end of the month they will be all gone.”
The Twitter exposure has really put Pheonix Delite on the map and highlighted to those looking for chocolates suitable for a range of diets that it is possible to find these in Ireland. In particular those who suffer from PKU (Phenylketonuria) for which Phoenix Delite do a range of PKU friendly treats.