They look too good to eat. That was my first reaction when I visited Chocolata Designs at Subang Parade, a company that customises your chocolates with personalised messages, company logos or even photographs.
Chocolata Design distributes chocolates made by Chocolate Graphics (M) Sdn. Bhd, the Malaysian counterpart of Chocolate Graphics International.
An Australia inventor is said to have originally conceived the Chocolate Graphics process in 1988, but his method was crude and extremely slow. Not much was done with the process until 1999 when John Taylor purchased the rights to it.
Based in the United States, Chocolate Graphics International today markets the unique products and manufacturing process worldwide using the licensing/franchising model.
In 2005, Chocolate Graphics (M) Sdn Bhd obtained the master licence from Chocolate Graphics International to become the sole developer of these types of chocolates in Malaysia.
“They are excellent as gifts and premiums, or for general corporate marketing communications, like brand-building.
“You could use them for product launches, functions, seminars, conventions and trade shows,” said Chocolata Design’s founder Philip Gomez, who joined the business in the fourth quarter of 2005.
“It was tough in the beginning as many did not understand our concept. They did not believe that we could customise the chocolate.
“We took part in wedding fairs and exhibitions to educate Malaysians about the brand,” said Chocolate Graphics Malaysia’s founding member Chin Siew Hua, adding that an initial investment of RM1mil was needed to kickstart operations.
Chin said until 2010, they were the only distributors in South-East Asia until another company obtained the master licence in Vietnam. Currently Chocolate Graphics Malaysia ships its finished products to Singapore, the Philippines, India, Brunei and Hong Kong.
Gomez explained that anything that can be printed on paper can be turned into a design on chocolate, however, it should be a two-toned (black and white) design as they use milk, dark and white chocolates to create the designs.
“We have done weddings, corporate functions, socialite events to name a few. Our clients include Singapore Airlines, Star Cruises, and Baskin Robbins, among others.
“We also provided customised chocolate designs for Datuk Siti Nurhaliza’s wedding,” said Chin, who explained that all their chocolates are handmade.
Gomez said, lately, one of the more popular designs is to place quick response codes (QR Codes) on chocolates for corporate functions. It creates curiosity and everyone tries to scan the code to check if it works. Business usually peaks during Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and year end. The price of customised chocolate designs range from RM2.50 to RM60 depending on size.
From a financial standpoit the business has been profitable. Gomez said sales figures have exceeded RM200,000 despite 90% of Malaysians being unaware of their capabilities. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.