Last year I was delighted to see that there would be a vegan market in Newbury. As this is the closest town for me and there are hardly any vegan things around, I of course went to check it out. It was fairly small, but I was happy to see some familiar faces. I got a hotdog and a yummy brownie and when I made another round I saw something that attracted me like magnet. Big balls of chocolate covered in nuts! I’ve never seen anything like this before and so I had a little chat with the owner to get to know the product. Even though I just bought a brownie, I couldn’t resist getting one of these (in my eyes) magic balls too. I’m so happy I did, because they are amazing!! Since then I ordered them for Xmas and my birthday, in different flavours. I can’t keep them from you and I would love you to try them and so I thought it was time to tell you about this lovely inspiring brand: Dark Moon Chocolate!
First of all I’d like to introduce you to the owner: Dan (35), who was born in Bristol, now lives in a lovely market town Frome, which has a bustling independent trader scene. He used to work as a Food Production Manager at a Farm shop. This seems a bit strange for a vegan, but he wasn’t vegan when he started working there. One day whilst he was stroking some of the cows in the barn (he always used to go and feed them with all the veg scraps from the kitchen) it made him think. He thought ‘I’d always been an animal lover and yet I was eating these beautiful creatures that deserved better’. From that moment he stopped eating animals. He’d always worked in the food industry which he fell into by pure accident and it just turns out that he really loved it. I’m happy he does, because what he does now, makes everyone happy. Time to ask him some questions!
What made you decide to start your own business and why chocolate?
I started it out of necessity, after having to leave my full-time employment because of health problems. I’ve suffered with arthritis and mechanical issues in my legs since I was 19 and had a bad flare-up in my ankle last summer. I had to leave, as it was predominantly an on your feet job. I chose chocolate because I’ve always enjoyed making chocolates and it’s always been my favourite sweet food. I can also sit down when making them, which helps me manage my bad ankle. It seems funny that about 6 months before starting Dark Moon, I made a passing comment to one of my staff members, that I’d love to just make chocolates. Strange how things turn out! I’m now fully self-employed, doing three separate part-time endeavours, the chocolate is the one that really keeps me going though. I’m also an artist and craftsman.
How did you come up with the name ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
My star product is a sweet chocolate ‘scotch egg’. The non vegan version is a Cadburys Creme egg, wrapped in brownie. I just had to make it vegan. I make all the centres myself, so I can make loads of fabulous flavours. I wanted a name that referred to the chocolate in some way. I use dark chocolate and they also look a bit like a moon, so it kind of just made sense. When I searched for the name ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ on instagram, someone else had already coined it, although the account looked old and was based in America. Just to be on the safe side, I chose ‘Dark Moon Vegan’. I trade under the banner of ‘Dark Moon Chocolate’ at markets though. It also means that I can have a really cool logo of a dark full moon!
How did you get yourself out there?
Despite all the hype around social media marketing and online presence, for me the best way to get myself out there was to actually physically do it. Meet my customers and spend time in the real world. It felt a bit like jumping into the unknown at first, booking markets and not knowing if I was going to sell much. I was actually astonished at how well the chocolates did. Off the back of that, my online sales are also really starting to grow.
What are the ingredients you like to use and where do you get them from?
My go to chocolate is a bitter sweet dark Belgian chocolate, it’s 54% and it’s really well balanced. Most people who aren’t fans of strong dark chocolate, usually like this one when they’ve given it a try. The company also re-invests directly back into the cocoa farmers to create a more sustainable approach to cocoa farming. I use a fair trade sugar and coconut oil, that my partner gets from her health store. I use a gluten-free buckwheat flour from a company located in the south-west. All my packaging is recyclable and I don’t use single use plastics. I have now ran out of the parcel tape I was using for online orders and will be using an eco-friendly paper tape for my online orders.
Where can people order your chocolate?
I currently do orders through social media and email, I’ll be developing a website to make things a little easier very soon. My email is email@example.com and my Instagram and Facebook is @darkmoonvegan.
Which chocolate is your personal favourite?
My favourite dark moon at the moment has to be ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ (I ordered 2 of these the last time and they are my favourite too, they are AMAZING!). It’s a salted caramel centre wrapped in a peanut butter brownie then coated on more chocolate and roasted peanuts. It’s inspired by a very well known chocolate bar – the clue is in the weird name!
What are your plans for the future when it comes to ‘Dark Moon Vegan’?
I’m really just looking to keep things small scale, I’m happy doing markets and fairs and selling online. To keep things interesting there will always be new flavours to try and occasional one off products.
Is there anything else you like people to know?
I have a chocolate problem. (I’m happy he does!! Haha..)
Will there be a special for Easter by any chance?
Of course, I’m in the process of doing a regular monthly subscription box, which will contain new flavours and products. For Easter I am making Vegan Creme Eggs, Caramel Eggs and Chocolate Orange Eggs. There will also be little mini creme eggs, keep your eyes open as these kind of items will be limited edition!
Now, are you excited yet? An amazing chocolate brand, with ridiculous flavours, you can order online, without any plastic packaging! It won’t get any better than this!
Dark Moon Vegan chocolate is my favourite for sure (esp ‘The Monkey’s Knickers’ ..just Wohw!) and I hope you’ll find out for yourself soon. They also make a lovely gift btw! I’d love to hear what you think of these chocolates if you decide to try them. Please let me know in the comments below or on Instagram! Thank you! X