Jamie set up Chocolate Ooze when he was just 17 years old and training to be a pastry chef. Now, almost a decade later, he tells BQ what it was like building his own business from the ground up.
What is it the company does?
Cocoa Ooze is an award-winning artisan chocolatier. With recipes that have been handed down through generations, each chocolate is skillfully crafted by our professional chocolatiers to create individual delights.
We also host chocolate making events for both adults and children, as well as team building events and children's birthday parties and chocolate making workshops.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
Being the Director, I have a very mixed role. I oversee the company’s day-to-day operation including business development, growth, export and also compliance. I have to naturally turn my hand to anything, whether that is back in the chocolate room producing or creating new flavours or even cleaning. As a small business, we have limited resources, so I do what it needed.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I started my first job when I was 13, working in a local pub. When I left school I went to college in Dundee and then I began my cooking career with a job at the Marcliffe in Aberdeen. I started the business when I was 17, in 2008, which was quite young but I learnt the art of running a business very quickly, the best way, by making mistakes. In 2011 I quit my job and dedicated my time fully to Cocoa Ooze and its growth.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Without a doubt - no chiefs or Indians - I go into my business without a title or a statement but with my team at the forefront of my mind, striving to create great products and services by working together.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Without changing the business direction after the local downturn, a lot of folks said we have it easy in Aberdeen. However, our prices have never reflected the rate of a barrel of oil, in fact, some of our services actually increased. Instead, we work with the market and make do the best we can, it’s challenging with costs rising out of control but we are lucky to have a unique set up of multiple income streams.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
This isn’t easy but to have the flexibility of the job is great so I tend to get up later and go to the gym and then into work, working later in the evening.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I actually wanted to be a DJ or Club Rep, when I was younger I had a DJ set and all the flashing lights.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Actually not, which is surprising, but I am sure my colleagues have a few from me!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We see Cocoa Ooze evolving as an experience-led business and also exporting internationally.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Listen to people, respect, and never take no for an answer.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
Watch the accounts as everything regarding the business rests on this, and will give you an idea of how the business is progressing, enabling you to make good decisions.
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