DAMMAM: Dream big, work hard and count on Allah. These are the key ingredients for success according to Roaa Saud Saber, CEO and founder of Miss Feionkah Chocolate.
Her success recipe has been tried and tested. Saber loved eating and making chocolate, but she lacked the skills and experience needed to make the decadent treat professionally.
But here her mother stepped in, donning her chef’s apron. “She is a very good chef in general, not just in terms of making chocolate, and she trained me in chocolate making. At the end of 2008, I said to myself, let me start selling and I did. Of course, I started with my relatives. They were very supportive and they bought chocolate from me in good quantities (at least, in good quantities for me at that time).”
Then she branched out beyond her family and close circle of friends. Now, 10 years later, she is selling her brand of chocolate even outside Saudi Arabia.
Saber was fortunate to have some training from Bart Van Cauwenberghe, the Belgian Chocolate Ambassador and one of the chefs for the Belgian royal family.
Her training with the master chocolatier occurred when she toured Europe to train, stopping in culinary hotspots like France and Belgium. “It was a life-changing experience. I had hands-on training on new types of chocolates, new recipes, and new manufacturing techniques. As well as technical training and support, Bart gave me moral support by praising the quality and taste of the chocolate I made.”
On the trip, she learned more about the craft from fellow chocolatiers from South America, the US, Europe and Asia.
Saber noted it was a big task to turn her chocolate-making hobby into her profession. “Turning a passion into a business requires a whole different set of skills. When you start up or run a business you will be spending more than half the time on tasks that you are not necessarily passionate about. You will be running after government officers, putting together a marketing plan, managing a full team. You will no longer just make chocolate,” she said.
As her team grew, early team members took on the role of training junior members of staff in the art of making chocolate the Miss Feionkah way and she started holding sessions to train the newcomers in chocolate making.
Now, the first wave of team members is taking care of the training for those who joined at a later stage. Her approach was to institutionalize the science and art of chocolate making. Training her staff does not depend only on her alone any more and her pupils pass the knowledge they gained from her to other newcomers.
Her team now has 15 full-time members, as well as some part-time staff.
Miss Feionkah is currently in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and soon will be expanding in other main cities of the Kingdom with plans to expand in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.