SHAH ALAM: Many find eating chocolates a pleasurable experience and a perfect mood booster on a stressful day. But for Rizaini Mokhtar, it was a slightly different story.
After leaving a career in the financial industry in 2014 to become a stay-at-home mother, she found solace not in eating chocolate but in cooking up batches of it instead.
She told FMT recently that leaving her full-time job was difficult but necessary. She had been struggling with an anxiety disorder, and losing her grandmother worsened her condition. Yet, the boredom of staying at home was getting to her as well.
Little did she know at the time that signing up for baking and chocolate-making classes would totally turn her life around.
“Making chocolates became a therapeutic experience for me,” Rizaini, 52, said, adding that her experimental chocolates were given to family and friends.
Delighted at how much they raved about her treats, she decided to start her very own business called “Chocolate Story”.
“I made chocolate with fillings and personalised chocolate bars using imported Belgian chocolate blocks,” she shared, adding that her customer base included corporations looking for customised gifts.
But the demands of running a business soon took a toll on her. After all, she was not only making the chocolates, she was also packing the products, making delivery arrangements and handling the marketing side of the business.
Feeling thoroughly exhausted from the whole experience, she decided to close shop for good and accepted a full-time job again.
However, it was not the end of her entrepreneurial journey. According to Rizaini, when the company she was working for closed down a year later, she revived “Chocolate Story”.
She had used the time away to re-evaluate her business, and came to the happy conclusion that more cooks wouldn’t ‘spoil the soup’ after all.
Partnering with Suri Daman, who she met in a business networking group, the pair instituted some changes.
First up – the business name. They decided to call it “Cherita Chocolate” to give it a local flavour.
Then, instead of imported Belgian chocolate blocks, they opted for local cacao beans from Melaka, Pahang, and Selangor that were processed in a factory in the Klang Valley.
Today, Cherita Chocolate sells chocolate clusters, cacao nibs and a whole host of spreads.
The chocolate clusters are a customer favourite. Available in milk and dark chocolate, you can choose from pretzels, pumpkin seeds, cookies, almonds and cornflakes.
It is easy to see why they are popular. Aside from tasting sinfully delicious, the packaging is eye-catching, making them ideal as gifts.
Rizaini said the packaging is designed by her eldest daughter, Nadiah Aminuddin. She works closely with Suri, who is now the chief executive officer of the business.
Speaking to FMT, Nadiah, 25, said: “The inspiration comes from the unity among Malaysians, and that’s why you’ll see women of various races on these designs. We also include flower motifs because it represents femininity, and we advocate women empowerment.”
The packaging has positive quotes printed on it, one in particular being “Your crown has been bought and paid for. Put it on your head and wear it.”
Cherita Chocolate also advocates mental health empowerment, a cause close to Rizaini’s heart after her own experience with anxiety disorder.
For the Raya season in 2021, the business introduced gift boxes in collaboration with Mental Illness Awareness and Support Association (MIASA). A portion of sales proceeds was donated to MIASA.
A helping hand
Today, the business has a shop in Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam in addition to booths in Publika Shopping Gallery and Hartamas Shopping Centre.
However, Rizaini admitted that as a start-up, getting the word out about their business is still a challenge.
To that end, Persatuan Pembangunan Artisans (PPA) is a blessing as the local NGO has been helping local artisans market their products on their online platform. There are also physical stores in the Klang Valley and pop-up events as well.
“I am so glad working with them as they have helped to widen our distribution channel,” she shared with a smile, adding that she hopes to continue spreading happiness through her products.
E-53, Plaza Jelutong
40150 Shah Alam
9.00am to 6.00pm (Monday to Friday)
9.00am to 3.00pm (Saturday)
Closed on Sunday
Contact: 03-7859 6074 or 019-663 3463 (WhatsApp only)
Read more PPA success stories and get to know its artisans by clicking here.