In this interview with Delphine Bertieaux, she explained her journey and her project as an independent chocolatier. Discover her entrepreneurial journey with this interview.
Who are you and what is your project ?
« I am Delphine Bertieaux. My project is opening a chocolate factory but a little bit particular, because it's based on making chocolate pieces about the folklore of my region which is Mons. For example, in Mons there is an important folk festival, "a ducasse" with a procession, "le combat dit Lumeçon" (the fight called Lumeçon), where many characters are linked to this tradition. And now I'm going to make all these characters into chocolate.»
What made you decide to launch your project ?
« Well, I have always liked the world of sweets, as a child I liked to make cakes, pastries and all that... And then, I had the opportunity to make a "discovery" of chocolate but as a hobby, for individuals. And so, I spent a few evenings learning how to make pralines and I really liked it. I then decided to go a little further and to do a 3-year training in confectionery and chocolate making. I loved it and completed it with a pastry training. Slowly I started making chocolates for family and friends. Then the idea of mixing the folklore of Mons with chocolate came to me. And the idea came about ten years ago. I wanted to do it myself so I didn't tell anyone else (laughing). I looked for ways to do it because there are all the legal and professional constraints. And I also had to evolve personally to decide to become an independent entrepreneur, which was not an easy decision to make. And to complete this, I did the 2 years of training at IFAPME to become a confectioner-chocolate maker. »
What is your professional background ?And how did you get there ?
« I have a degree in clinical chemistry, so it's to work in biological analysis laboratories. After doing internships, I wasn't interested in doing this job because it was very automated work on machines. Afterwards, I had the opportunity to work as a babysitter for a dentist and she was looking for someone in her dental office to do some specific tests and so, it fit well with my degree. I learned the job of a dental assistant, which I practiced for a few years. After the birth of my children, I decided to stop working to take care of them and so, for 20 years I didn't work anymore. I was a "full time mom" as I say, it was still a job (laughing)! And then, all this training led me to wanting to become independent. I've been registered as a freelancer for 6 months now. Since my children are older, it is no longer a problem to reconcile the 2. I also worked 2-3 years in a chocolate factory, as a laborer, a little more than ten years ago, but it was only occasional. »
In your past, had you already thought about this project or is it a new idea that you had recently ?
« No, I had never thought about it. I didn't even understand how you could be an independent, it seemed impossible to me. I saw the security of a wage job, but I realized, when I was looking for a job as a laborer, because I wanted to work for a chocolate artisan (not in the industry), that it was very difficult to get a job, and being older didn't make things easier. Then, slowly, with this idea that I had of offering my chocolate pieces, and as I wanted to make them myself, the idea of being an independent came to me. »
In your career, if you have one regret, what would it be ?
« I would say maybe I waited all this time to take the jump, but as the same time, I think I needed to grow personally. And, to study a little about all aspects of being an entrepreneut to make sure I was capable of doing it. »
What difficulties have you encountered as a female entrepreneur ?
« "As a woman", I don't think it's really a difficulty, actually, being a woman. Now, yes, the chocolate business is still quite dominated by men, but I was working for a female chocolatier, so it wasn't complicated. No, it was more from a personal point of view that it was complicated. »
What are the advantages of being an entrepreneur ?
« I would say that you can realize your idea and not be influenced by others. Yes, of course, there are always people who will agree or criticize, but if you really have a very precise idea, you remain master of your business and that is the big advantage. I am at the very beginning, I have some contact with some customers but I do not know yet all the aspects of the entrepreneurial profession. But I would say that the big advantage is really to be independant and to do what you want. Now, you're the only one to make decisions and you're the only one to deal with the problems too, so that is the other side of the coin ! »
You make effigies of Mons but aren't you intereseted in expanding your product offering?
« Right now I am focusing on developing several products around Mons. Now, I don't know what the future will be because, as I said, a few years ago, being independent was out of question. I am going to settle in the business, break in the practice, and the see. But right now, I really want to develop in Mons. I still have other idea to put in place and then, we will see what the reception is like. »
What has BeCook! brought you so far ?
« What is great about BeCook! is that it gives me the opportunity to have a professional installations whitout making a big financial investment and that's ideal. And Sara is great at giving advice, support, and that helped me a lot to take the jump too. Since I resell to other professionals, I am required to have an FASFC approved workshop. And I don't think I would have made the financial investment. So BeCook! was a major asset in my decision. »
In conclusion, it has been a great pleasure for me to do this interview because, like Delphine, I love chocolate and the world of sweets. I was also able to discover a talented woman, who has motivation, determination and who has given life to her dream. She is an inspiration to me and I thank her for sharing her story. Thanks to her, I was able to see that it is worthwhile to go to the end oy your dreams and to give yourself the means to realize them.
A big thank you to Delphine for giving me some of her precious time to do this interview.
If you wish to discover the "Delifine" chocolates, made by Delphine, contact her by :
Phone : 0456 16 30 79
E-mail : [email protected]
Interviewee : Delphine Bertieaux
Interviewer and transcriber : Claudia
Translation : Astrid Creemers