It is certainly a passion about any particular thing that makes an individual keep moving towards his/her goal. And when, creativity is accompanied with passion, the outcome is absolutely enchanting and favorable. One such individual is Cassandra Hamel, the Founder of Milton Country Retreat “The Chocolate Cottages”, who is smartly combining her passion and creativity to reach a new milestone in her business. Cassandra is now known as “The Chocolate Lady” but this isn’t how the story started.
A creative mind, Cassandra, enjoys art and had the desire to make beautiful edible chocolate creations. When her second child was only a year old, she decided to embark on crazy mission to become a Chocolatier. She owns a cottage, which was then providing chocolate strawberries to its guests at the time and she wanted to expand its offer to be something more unique. After her chocolate studies, she spent hundreds of hours creating edible art pieces for her cottage guests. As she was still learning at that stage, she decided to make them a complimentary gift for her cottage guests and this gesture converted into an opportunity for her to be creative and master her craft. The joy of giving a special gift that was deliciously beautiful became the motivation & vision of the business. Thereon, the company decided to re-brand to become Milton Country Retreat “The Chocolate Cottages”. It is now a chocolate retreat providing extremely unique chocolate experiences, chocolate sculpting workshops, chocolate antiquity experiences & chocolate champagne picnics just to name a few.
Cassandra Hamel Encouraging to Take Ownership
Before starting up her own business, Cassandra worked for over 20 years in various management roles, in fields such as retail, human resources & merchandising management. Every management position she was offered was due to her openness to learn and undertake training courses. She jumped at any chance to learn something new, which then leads onto the next opportunity. She also opines that one should apply for everything, even if he or she is not qualified enough. It is captivating to know what people can achieve when they stop listening to the negative voice in their head and just truly go for it.
Also, for Cassandra, nothing compares to owning a business. When she left the corporate world, she finally felt free to truly follow her passion, find her niche and embrace all her strengths and skills to create something truly beautiful, something she is extremely proud of.
Utilizing Technology to Strengthen Brand
In the opinion of Cassandra, the advancements in technology and the growth of using social media as the advertising medium of business are paramount in its success. Cassandra believes in the power of knowledge. She also wishes that she had the knowledge she has right now back then when she started this journey. Being in the accommodation game she had to learn to use Online Travel Agents to her advantage and not any disadvantage. The fresh new accommodation owner sadly falls often into the trap of using these companies to bring them business in their peak periods. Instead, they can use them as a secondary tool to fill slow selling rooms and instead investing their time and money establishing their own branding & driving sales to their own webpages. This is the true key to long term success of any accommodation owner in today’s flooded world of competitors. With so many accommodation choices especially since the successful growth of Air BNB, businesses need to use technology to their advantage to stand out from the crowd. They should have a unique selling proposition and ensure that their social media marketing, their SEO and their services are all aligned to continue to strengthen their brand.
Addressing the Importance of USP
Cassandra believes that a unique selling proposition, paired with exceptional service is paramount in sustaining a leading position. Many businesses have a vision of what they want to achieve, they throw money into marketing and then sadly don’t initially get the outcome they desire, they try again and again each time with a new marketing plan, a new idea. This leads to their detriment and they lose their brand identity and market place to their competitors.
Learning from Mistakes
The significant thing Cassandra has learnt recently is that one should dream, but one should also learn to “Let Go”, as people can get blinded with being stuck on one particular idea or a one-track mind to reach their ultimate goal. She says, “Business is like the weather, ever changing and unpredictable, so you need to be able to adjust with the seasons, dance in the rain so as to speak, and to make sure that you are open to new ideas and opportunities which may actually be exactly what you need to succeed.” Cassandra hopes to continue to learn from her mistakes, enjoy the ride and continue to live a life filled with decadent passion.
Being Passionate is the Key
According to Cassandra, being passionate is an essential attribute every leader should possess. If one is not passionate about what one does, he or she won’t last through the dark days. Business is hard and exhausting, and huge investment of time and money is needed especially in the beginning stages. Cassandra has a young family, so it’s a daily balancing act of being a mother and a so-called business entrepreneur. But, it is her passion that helps her through when she makes mistakes, that inspires her to try again. It’s the unwavering hunger to achieve the goals she is incredibly passionate about that have helped her believe in herself when she has doubts. She asserts, “If you go to sleep thinking about your business, if you constantly day dream about your goals, then I believe you are on the right track to great success.”
She also adds, “Be brave; don’t listen to any negative talk, especially your own, if you have a deep hunger to achieve something, don’t let anything get in your way. I won’t lie to you, it’s not going to be easy, but if you are truly passionate about something you have to dig deep and give it everything you have to achieve it.”