5 Minutes with …Catriona Briggs Evans

Catriona Briggs Evans answers all my questions in this week’s blog post featuring local Inspiring Business Woman. If you love chocolate, then you will definitely enjoy reading all about her work at H’evans Truffles. Catriona creates handcrafted truffles and a variety of other products. Chocolate is said to evoke emotions and memories from the past. Her aim is to tell your story, in chocolate …

Tell me about Catriona, the person …

You’re not starting with the easy one! About a year ago, I would have done the whole ‘mother of 2 thing’! It’s only taken me to 46 years of age to realise that’s my role, not who I am.

I’m a very different person to who I was a few years ago. I used to be painfully shy and was told the other day that I used to be ‘ridiculously quiet’! Hahaha … I was too! Cancer has been one of the worst and best things to have happened to me. I have had to shape a new ‘normality’ and have grown hugely because of it. But that’s a whole other story!

I am a very genuine, open person who loves connecting with others. You can’t beat a good chat, especially if you have coffee too! Honestly, I find it easier to be genuine because I am also lazy and if you are going to be nasty or lie you have to keep thinking of nasty things to say and who you say them to. Being open and honest is much easier!

I wear my heart on my sleeve and I suppose I’m quite an emotional person. No suppose about it really – I burst into tears at the drop of a hat! I’m creative and quite childish really, the two go together quite well because when I am designing flavours, nothing is off the table. It’s a case of ‘why shouldn’t those flavours go together?’

I spend a lot of time avoiding the whole adulting thing (quite successfully I might add). It’s very over rated in my opinion. Maybe that’s why I worked with children for almost 20 years before I was ill. Life is too short to be serious all the time! Can you tell, I like to talk! I would go on but I only have 5 minutes 😉

Tell me all about your journey with H’evans Truffles?

I still find it weird saying I own a business as it’s so different to my past! The business is my silver lining to cancer. Before self employment, I worked as a nursery assistant for 10 years. I then went on to a job as a classroom assistant, 1-1 with special needs children in main stream schools. I would probably still be in that job if I hadn’t lost my voice so much, gone to speech therapy and found a lump in my neck.

A fair amount of hospital appointments and tests later I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. That was an unexpected curve ball! I baked, I walked for miles, listened to music for hours on end and I totally stuck my head in the sand in regards to cancer ( that was a mistake).

Baking had been a hobby for years and it escalated in to a an obsession, it was a distraction from cancer. At my cousin’s wedding in Italy, I decided to make a cake for the reception. I designed the cake during my treatment as I was in radioactive quarantine – I had so much time on my hands. This inspired me to see what else I could do.

I made chocolate truffles to go on the next cake and from then on, I was hooked on trying variations. I knew I wasn’t going back to the classroom as I had depression and anxiety. It was a very dark time; self harming and suicidal tendencies but thankfully, with a lot of help, love and support from friends, I made progress. In 2016, I took the leap into the unknown and set up H’evans Truffles – handcrafting truffles and chocolates.

I make bespoke chocolates for wedding favours, corporate gifts, events and hotel chocolates. I also offer flavour consultations and taster sessions, as well as a subscription box. This is available on an annual, bi or tri annual basis. I hate the term bespoke, it’s bandied about everywhere and has lost it’s true meaning! I wanted H’evans Truffles to be more than that.

This is my 2nd chance at life and I have a new determination and ‘why not’ attitude. I don’t want to rock up to my deathbed thinking ‘I wish I’d tried that!’ So, I personalise chocolates and tailor them to the individual on an emotional level. I like to think my USP is how I tell your story in flavours and chocolate.

Initially when I came up with the concept of basing flavours on memories I called it emotionally bespoke but people weren’t sure what that meant, now I use terms like ‘memory based flavours’ and ‘your story in chocolate’.

I am currently working on another exciting project – The Chocolate Chronicles, which will offer businesses a unique way of self promotion. Their truffles will based on a flavours evoked from their work or memories from business set up. Their flavour story will feature in our Vlog and potentially an ebook too.

Catriona Briggs Evans

What is your No.1 song on your iPlayer/phone?

Is this a trick question? It possible to have a favourite track?!!! The playlist is always changing, I love music. At the moment I go between Greta Van Fleet and Guardians of the Galaxy sound track.

What is your favourite quote?

Difficult one! There are quite few … “We all sit down for a shit” from Lee Evans. “I can and I will! Watch me!” – Carrie Green. “What if I fall? Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” – Eric Hanson. “The shit’s in the gold, you have to dig” – Stephanie Harvey. “My philosophy is: It’s none of my business what people say of me and think of me. I am what I am and I do what I do….” – Anthony Hopkins

Favourite smell?

I will go with freshly cut grass. It reminds me of Easter, when I was a child. The Easter Bunny always left me mini Lindt bunnies and teddies. I can remember my Easter bunny out cutting the grass, whilst my sister & I munched our way through the chocolate in the sun!

If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor & why?

Can I pick a few? ( I forgot to mention how indecisive I am when I described who I am). I wish my dad was still here. He was a great business man and I could have learned a lot from him.

I love my coach right now, Stephanie Harvie – she really pushes me to look at myself and keep taking action. So much of my personal and working growth is due to working with her.

Paul A Young (chocolatier) would be a fab mentor when it comes to chocolate. I could learn a lot about flavour and technique from him!

If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to?

Ally

If you were reincarnated as an animal, what would it be?

A lioness or some other large wild cat.

What do you miss most about being a child?

NOT the clothes my mum used to dress me in – flares and duffle coats. Eww! Chocolate raisins with dad every Friday or possibly racing down Princess Park on rollerskates.

Tell me about the last time you were nervous?

I was doing the Women In Business, Dragons Den pitch. When I walked in, I was totally calm. I offered the judges one of the sample chocolates I’d brought and told them they were raspberry and balsamic. It’s one of my favourite flavours but in the same heart beat, I realised they were actually raspberry and garden mint and had to admit it. I totally styled it out lol.

That threw me and for the entire pitch, I shook like a leaf. When the winners were being announced they actually commented on it!

The best part of waking up is?

If I remembered to do a question for bed, I usually get a sense of clarity about the answer and it usually gives me a boost but more than that….a really hot shower then coffee in peace with my hound and 2 cats before I have to get the boys up.

What is your favourite crystal & why?

I’m not really into crystals but I think they’re pretty. I quite like the salt rock lamp and might try it. I have epiliepsy and I don’t sleep the best; apparently it’s good for both of those. If it was a gem then jade because it reminds me of my dad and the time he brought me jade pendant back from Japan.

What is your favorite form of exercise?

Walking but I should do more of it!

If you could witness any event past, present or future, what would it be?

Past … Led Zepplin in concert. I would love to give a really profound answer but it just doesn’t come to mind. I’ll use that as a question for bed and see what comes up!

Led Zeppelin
Image courtesy of www.nme.com

What’s the career highlight you’re most proud of?

It’s not so much the career highlight – My boys often tell me they are so proud of me. Because of everything I am doing, because I have gone through so much (their words, not me being all ‘yeah, look at me’).

Although, it’s kinda cool that I won a taste test against Hotel Chocolat and was tracked down by a customer after a fayre because she wanted to place an order with me.

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