Welcome to this inspiring interview with David Zulman, co-founder of Firetree Chocolate. David's journey into the world of chocolate began when he was just a boy, growing up in the industry.
Over the years, he has witnessed the evolution of chocolate from a mass-market product to a premium and super-premium delicacy. This realisation, combined with his passion for building a brand and telling the story of the people behind the product, led him to co-found Firetree Chocolate with his longtime colleague, Martyn O'Dare.
In this interview, David shares the story behind the Firetree brand, his average day as a small business owner, and his vision for the future of the company. He also offers insights into his personal life, including his bucket-list travel destination and his approach to self-care. So sit back, relax, and let David's passion and enthusiasm for chocolate and entrepreneurship inspire you.
Can you tell us about the journey that led you to launch Firetree Chocolate?
I grew up in the chocolate industry and worked in the mass market for many years. However, I saw an opportunity in the premium and super-premium markets. I have also worked with my co-founder MOD in one way or another for 25 years.
What inspired the brand story and why was it important to you?
Our aim was to bring out the people who make up this great industry, such as farmers and those who are passionate about building a brand. As we developed our brand story, I saw how people loved it, became excited by it, and wanted to be part of it. Even the name “Firetree” and the story behind it hooked people, and they wanted to participate, even if it was just by eating our chocolate. That is the true essence of the birth of a brand.
Can you describe an average day in your life?
Every day in a small business is different. You have to do many different things, and the business becomes part of every aspect of your life, including family, sports, relaxation, and even sanity.
How do you want people to feel when they eat your chocolate?
We want people to drift away in a dreamy, self-indulgent moment in time, to think about the beautiful and exotic islands where we source our cocoa, and to experience the changing tastes and textures of our chocolate as it melts in their mouth.
Who is involved in the brand, and what are their roles?
The team consists of me, Martin Frost, our non-exec Chairman, Jo Palmer, our Head of Sales, and Sheena Horton, our social media and marketing coordinator. We also have a fantastic chocolate maker and my co-founder Martyn O’Dare, who plays an important role in delivering the product that allows us to indulge in marketing that delivers on the promise.
Do you have plans to expand into other products in the future, and if so, what are they?
Absolutely. We would like to spread into a broader gift and treat brand, primarily using chocolate as the vehicle. Our aim is for Firetree to become synonymous with premium/high-end, exceptional quality and taste, and a brand that people are proud to serve, give and consume.
Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do differently?
If I were a real clairvoyant, I would have waited until after Covid to launch the brand. I would also have raised a bigger war chest for marketing and invested in proper digital marketing from day one.
Our readers love to travel, what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
Running a business can be non-stop, what do you do to switch off?
I am good at compartmentalizing, and I enjoy eating great food. My wife is an excellent cook, and she likes experimenting with new recipes. I also spend time with my kids and grandkids, walk my dog, and try to stay fit.
What does self-care mean to you?
Making time to exercise.
Where do you see the brand in five years?
We see Firetree being recognized by food connoisseurs, foodies, discerners, and top chefs worldwide and being available in outlets where indulgent products are sold.
Follow Firetree Chocolate for more...
You can find out more about Firetree Chocolate on our website, www.firetreechocolate.com.