Former English teacher Azra Sadiq’s love of designer shoes and handbags has inspired her chocolate business which is going from strength to strength. Catherine Scott reports.
MOST women dream of being given a designer pair of shoes – but what about ones you can eat?
Azra Sadiq has just launched a new business making handmade chocolate shoes and they are going down a storm.
The shoes take up to four days to make, with her latest Limited Edition shoe for Mother’s Day taking two hours just to make the edible pearl-encrusted heel.
“It is a time-consuming job as I finish every shoe by hand but the finished result is worth it,” says Azra, who runs her chocolate making business from the kitchen and spare room of her Harrogate home.
The former English teacher and mum-of-three got the idea after living in the Middle East for 17 years.
“We were out there with my husband’s work and I was working in a school teaching English. I always loved cooking and baking, but then I decided I wanted to teach myself how to temper chocolate. I then set about making up my own chocolate recipes.”
At first Azra just made her delicious homemade chocolate for friends and family but the plaudits and demand for her products became so much that she decided to follow her calling.
Azra left her job in 2009 to pursue her chocolate passion and to learn more about it.
She travelled to the UK and Belgium to train with Master Chocolatiers. But they were so impressed with her chocolate that they wanted Azra’s recipe.
“I couldn’t believe it. They were the chocolatiers with all the knowledge and experience, I was just starting out and yet they wanted my recipe.”
While in the Middle East, Azra’s business was mainly making artisan boxes of chocolates but during her travels she started to see a demand for chocolate novelty items such as shoes.
So when the family returned to the UK two years ago and settled in Harrogate, Azra decided to develop her own range of designer shoes all made from chocolate.
“I love shoes and I love chocolate and so the two seemed to be a perfect match.
“My chocolate shoe collection was inspired by one I saw in a shop on my travels. I thought it was a fantastic idea and set about creating my own version, which I named the ‘Cinderella’ shoe.
“Very quickly I was receiving constant requests to make the shoe for girls’ birthday presents or to use as a cake topper.
“That first shoe was such a runaway success for me that I’ve now developed eight different designs to suit any chocolate-loving fashionista’s taste.”
Since then Azra Chocolates has gone from strength to strength.
Her chocolate shoe collection has been developed thanks to her personal love of designer shoes, such as the must-have Louboutin range and classic Christian Dior styles. Azra makes each and every shoe herself from the highest quality Belgian chocolate before packaging it beautifully to be given as a gift. However she is helped by her family. Her eldest son Amaan, 17, helps with the marketing and social media side of the business, her daughter, Inayah, 16, helps with the packaging and 10-year-old Zakariya joins his brother and sister with the tasting.
“The children love my chocolate. If someone doesn’t know what I do and bring us a box of chocolate they never seem to get finished, whereas mine just disappear.
At the moment all Azra’s business is done through her website although she does hope one day to open her own chocolate shop.
“At the moment I am launching my business with the novelty items such as the shoes and wedding favours which I really want to introduce new products such as my boxes of hand-made chocolates.”
But for the time being she has enough on keeping up with her orders which comes from across the country.
“I begin work on each shoe as soon as I take the order,” says Azra. “Each one is a piece of art for me, and can take three or four days to complete. I don’t keep stock, so the run up to Valentine’s Day was hectic as I not only made the shoes myself but also wrapped and despatched them to reach my customers in time to give to their loved ones.
“I’m hoping that my Limited Edition Mothers’ Day design will prove just as popular. As a working mum myself I know how wonderful it is to be treated to something extra special and just that bit different once in a while.”
Azra’s customers tend to be women buying for each other, or men buying for women.
“They look and taste great, but it is the novelty factor that people tend to go for.”
The chocolate shoes, which Azra estimates are about a size two, start from £21.95, pairs are £34.95 and a shoe and purse set – the purse is solid chocolate – comes in at £27.95. As she only uses natural ingredients and no preservatives the shoes should last about six months. So although they look too good to eat, don’t hang about too long.
“My dream would be to have my chocolates stocked by the luxury goods stores like Harrods, but I will always ensure that they retain the hand-made touch and are never mass-produced.
“My work is my passion; I’ve travelled the world to discover the most unique chocolates and will continue to develop my range to deliver the highest quality combination of fashion and taste for my customers.”
Azra’s Limited Edition Mothers’ Day shoe is available from www.azrachocolates.co.uk from today in time for delivery before March 10.
How chocolate conquered the world
The history of chocolate began in Mesoamerica. Chocolate, the fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the Theobroma cacao, can be traced to the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec people, with evidence of cacao beverages dating back to 1900 BC.
Chocolate played a special role in both Maya and Aztec royal and religious events. Priests presented cacao seeds as offerings to the gods and served chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies. All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”.
The Europeans sweetened and lightened it by adding refined sugar and milk, ingredients the people in Mesoamerica did not use. By contrast, they never infused it into their general diet, but compartmentalized its use to sweets and desserts. In the 19th century, Briton John Cadbury developed an emulsification process to make solid chocolate, creating the modern chocolate bar.