Prepare for a Paul Mescal supremacy — 5 upcoming or new releases from the incredible Irish actor
Prepare for a Paul Mescal supremacy — 5 upcoming or new releases from the incredible...

Sarah Gill

Three newly opened Irish restaurants to try out this weekend
Three newly opened Irish restaurants to try out this weekend

Sarah Gill

Author’s Bookshelf: Clodagh Finn on paying homage to the women who have made Ireland what it is alongside Lord Mayor Alison Gilliland
Author’s Bookshelf: Clodagh Finn on paying homage to the women who have made Ireland what...

Sarah Gill

What to make this weekend: Saturday night dinner for less than €6
What to make this weekend: Saturday night dinner for less than €6

Sarah Finnan

Take a tour of Made.com founder’s chic London pad
Take a tour of Made.com founder’s chic London pad

IMAGE Interiors & Living

The benefits of batch cooking, from more time to more money
The benefits of batch cooking, from more time to more money

IMAGE

It’s time to learn your attachment style…and how it’s impacting your relationship
It’s time to learn your attachment style…and how it’s impacting your relationship

Mairead Heffron

Maisie Williams, Jennette McCurdy, Drew Barrymore and the plight of abusive parents
Maisie Williams, Jennette McCurdy, Drew Barrymore and the plight of abusive parents

Sarah Gill

Supper Club: This delicious French Onion Soup makes for a seriously tasty lunch
Supper Club: This delicious French Onion Soup makes for a seriously tasty lunch

Jennifer McShane

October Event Guide: Festivals of food, art, comedy, jazz, and all things Halloween are on the horizon
October Event Guide: Festivals of food, art, comedy, jazz, and all things Halloween are on...

Sarah Gill

Image / Editorial

Kasha Connolly: ‘Winning Start-up of the Year opened new opportunities for me’


By Grace McGettigan
11th Oct 2018
Kasha Connolly: ‘Winning Start-up of the Year opened new opportunities for me’

Kasha Connolly is the owner and creative director of Hazel Mountain Chocolate, a small chocolate factory and cafe in Counties Clare and Galway. The company was launched in 2014 with the help of her husband John, and four years on, it remains one of the most remote chocolate factories in the world.

Not only does Kasha make award-winning chocolate on site, but she also runs tours of her factory, a chocolate shop, cafe and online store. Given the growing success of her business, it’s no surprise Kasha won Start-up of the Year at the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards in 2016. As we near this year’s BWOTY Awards, we caught up with Kasha to find out how things have changed since then.

Nominate yourself or a friend for the
IMAGE Business Woman of the Year Awards 2018
HERE

“As a result of winning start-up of the year, many PR opportunities have arisen,” Kasha tells us. “Notably, I’ve been working with five-star hotels like The Marker in Dublin and Adare Manor. I’ve got the understanding that, ultimately, everything is possible,” she says. “Our Burren chocolate factory has become one of the main visitor attractions in the west of Ireland, and we now sell our product across Sweden and Norway.”

What makes Hazel Mountain Chocolate different?

“We make our chocolate in very small batches using rare, direct-trade Trinitario cacao beans and raw sugarcane for our dark chocolate; and Irish milk from grass-fed cows in our milk chocolate; delivering you the finest, purest chocolate,” Kasha says.

“Our team of chocolate makers begin by hand roasting, cracking and winnowing cacao beans before stone grinding it for 40 hours. We then age our chocolate for a further three weeks before our chocolatiers create our bean-to-bar chocolates. You can’t just rush the process of making the world’s best chocolate.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by HazelMountainChocolate (@hazelmountainchocolate) on

What motivates you?

“Our pure and natural product, and our design. We operate in a niche market and face a lot of competition from industrial chocolate makers; hence we have to fight uphill battles with regards to educating the consumer. But ultimately, the product – our chocolate – speaks for itself. The exemplary experience and service we provide to the consumer come from the fact that we stand by our product.

“The holy grail is to trust yourself, trust your instinct, stay true to yourself…”

“This is what motivates me; pushing back against the industry norm, trust in my vision, and setting new goals. I’ve learnt to run with the challenges, not against them. This can be great motivation.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kasha Connolly (@connollykasha) on

What do you think every woman should know before setting up a business?

“Every woman should remember there is always an appetite and a demand for high-quality products. For me, the holy grail is to trust yourself, trust your instinct, stay true to yourself, be brave with your design concepts, and question everything.

“Failure can push you forwards or backwards; it’s up to you how many lessons you take from failure and challenges.”

“It’ll sound cheesy, but happy customers is so worthwhile. Consumers feedback is always overwhelmingly positive. It’s very satisfying when people recognise the level of input, work and craft that goes into our chocolate.”

“Also, investing in yourself and setting new goals is part of the daily motivation. Failure can push you forwards or backwards; it’s up to you how many lessons you take from failure and challenges.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by HazelMountainChocolate (@hazelmountainchocolate) on

Any advice for this year’s nominees?

“Well, first of all, enjoy every second of it!” Kasha says. “The event is a wonderful glamorous evening. It’s worth sharing this experience with some of your colleagues or friends.”

Awarding those who have what it takes

Nominations for the IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year Awards 2018 are now live. Will you nominate yourself, a friend or a colleague for one of the highly coveted titles? Simply fill in the nomination form before 5 pm on Friday, 12th October 2018 to be in with a chance to win.

On the evening of Monday 19th November, we will gather with Ireland’s most inspiring businesswomen for a luxurious gala dinner, during which we will recognise and celebrate their successes. We will reveal the winners in nine categories, plus the winner of the Lifetime Achievement award and the overall IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2018.

With only a limited time left to nominate, you’ll need to act fast. Good luck.