Shari Black Velvet: You’ve been handmaking chocolates for over 8 years. How old were you when you got into baking and what is it that you enjoy about it? Was it something you did at school that you loved and carried on with?
Donna-Marie Adams: I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen and being vegan I think it makes you become more creative in the kitchen. Baking comes easily to me and I find it very therapeutic. I love nothing more than posting some fresh baked vegan cookies to a friend as a surprise. I first began making chocolates when I realised that there was nowhere near me that sold exactly what I wanted. So I made it myself. It all went from there really!
SBV: You’re based in Edinburgh. What’s the vegan scene like up there? Are there many vegan stores and restaurants – and have you tried to get your products into any stores?
DA: Edinburgh has a pretty excellent vegan scene. Lots of fantastic places to eat ranging from little takeaway places to canteen style restaurants and then right at the other end there are some really high end places with prices to match! There are also many places which fit in between those so there really is something for everyone's price and palate. I am indeed hoping to provide some local businesses with my wares. I can't say much at the moment about it but I shall keep you posted.
SBV: You’ve held a cake stall. Where? How did that go?
DA: I have held five stalls in the past and I have another in a week’s time. I love doing them as it's a great opportunity to get a feel of what people like/dislike about vegan confectionary. It's also fantastic to meet new vegans.
SBV: You’ve also supplied Edinburgh Playhouse with some of your vegan creations. How did that come about?
DA: I am lucky to have someone 'in the know' as a very good friend who put me in touch with them.
SBV: What ingredients do you use to make your products?
DA: Ah, I use all sorts! All 100% vegan. I strive to use the finest ingredients possible. I love just opening bottles of things that smell wonderful and then closing them up again! Haha that makes me sounds weird!
SBV: We’re especially loving the fingers. Any plans to add other edible body parts?
DA: Those were made for Halloween a few years ago. They were really fun to make but they were mostly for aesthetics rather than taste as they were just shortbread which I find quite boring! So no, no plans for any more body parts.
SBV: There seem to be more independent vegan companies sprouting up and people making and selling products from everything from cakes to soap. Do you think this is because people can see a gap in the market and people want these products or is it a reaction to the recession that people choose to sell things that they can make?
DA: I actually think it is because there is a gap in the market. It's fast becoming 'trendy' to have handmade unique products rather than commercial big name consumables. Take a look at Etsy online, it's full of handmade things and people are going crazy for it. I also know of a number of online communities that are dedicated to people sharing what they make and sell. It's the way forwards.
SBV: Do you think anyone could start their own business and make a success of it or do you think you need to know a bit about the business side of things to make it a success?
DA: I think that anyone can do anything if they want it bad enough and if they put their mind to it. I’m very lucky in that my husband is very business-minded so he helps me with a lot of the practical side of it.
SBV: If you could have someone else cook you any meal who would you want to cook for you and what would you want to eat (and why)?
DA: It would have to be my good friend Chris Tofu! I'd let him surprise me as his food always looks amazing I'd be sure to love it anyways. I hope he's reading this! We could trade his meal for my chocolates as I know he loves them because he is probably my most loyal customer!
SBV: How do you hope or see your company progressing?
DA: Eventually we want to have a beautiful little chocolate shop but we are also planning to move to Australia so we shall have to see what happens. It's all very exciting really!