A MOTHER whose daughters had a milk intolerance experimented to create a hot chocolate they could enjoy.

That creation, using soya milk, dark chocolate and raw sugar, marked the start of Linda Barrie’s enduring love affair with confectionery.

Fast forward, and the York-based chocolatier is this week celebrating the 15th anniversary of her business, Choc Affair which is still going strong.

Linda founded Choc Affair in 2006 when she realised that her two daughters had an intolerance to milk. Linda experimented with ingredients and created a hot chocolate that they loved.

Linda said: “I had a feeling I had a business idea, so I began exploring and researching the concept of a hot chocolate stirrer. I contacted a chocolatier who was going to produce my first confectionery product for me, only to be told he was off during the month of January, so wouldn’t be making me any samples.

“This was a blessing in disguise as it gave me the push I needed to purchase my own mini chocolate machine, a box of chocolate couverture, and after reading the instruction book, have a go.”

Linda’s determination paid off, resulting in several independent wholesale clients within the first month of trading.

As demand grew for Linda’s hot chocolate stirrer, she developed further ranges and later secured bigger premises in the Yorvale Business Park, off James Street, growing the business into the wholesale and consumer sectors.

“When I started Choc Affair, I was one of few who were offering sustainable, ethical and palm oil free chocolate and I am over the moon that more confectionery brands are now becoming environmentally and socially conscious as we all have a responsibly to protect and respect communities and the planet we live on.”

The first lockdown in March 2020 hit the wholesale side but consumer sales have increased by more than 1,500 per cent over the past year, said Linda. During that time, Linda has launched chocolate boxes and experiences such as chocolate-making kits which enabled her to bring the team back off furlough in late summer 2020.

She added: “I feel incredibly blessed that we’ve reached our 15th year in business, and I am proud of what the team has achieved. Throughout 2021, we will be introducing a plant-based oat milk chocolate bar, several new experiences as well as a range of seasonal flavoured chocolate bars. Consumers are becoming more adventurous and willing to try new things and as an independent chocolate making business, it is our duty to spread a little bit of chocolate happiness.”