Shipping Chocolate Shoes As Seen On Channel 5 - Please Don't Melt!
If you're wondering how we shipped over 100 Cocoa To Thrill Chocolate Shoes into the desert - we're here for you!
"People Deliver Chocolate All Over The World...Right?"
When we received the call asking us to bring our Cocoa To Thrill Chocolate Shoes to Arab Fashion Week we did a little dance and jumped for joy. Arabia, how exotic, how beautiful, how…hot! In our chocolate celebration we neglected to consider the challenge ahead of us. In an attempt to comfort ourselves we placated ourselves with this, “People deliver chocolate all over the world right, we can do this”. At this point we had no idea whether chocolate had ever been imported into Dubai or indeed who had ever done it.
We weren’t just taking bars of chocolate either, we were taking delicate, beautiful yes, but extremely fragile chocolate shoes into the desert. It wasn’t going to be easy, especially since our precious cargo hadn’t even been out of London let alone 4639.5 miles away.
Being the mavericks that we are, lead by, an unperturbed boss lady, we ventured into the unknown and began lovingly producing our chocolate masterpieces one by one. We fielded countless questions about how we were going to make sure it wasn’t going to melt by smiling through the insanity, “People deliver chocolate all over the world” became our mantra, not chocolate shoes mind, but stop picking holes in our plan.
Channel 5's, The Wonderful World of Chocolate, watches our Chocolate Shoe Challenge.
This task in front of us was similar to when Richard Branson decides to do another epic but dangerous adventure. We love Richard Branson, so why not. However we added a little more danger into the mix when Channel 5 contacted us and said they wanted to film us on this dangerous adventure, we did another chocolate dance, paused to think, “what if we can’t do it” and then relished the thrill, this was going to be more than a hot balloon ride.
Researching the problem with no time...The research into how we were actually going to get over 100 chocolate shoes to Dubai didn’t actually start until most of the chocolate shoes for Fashion Week were completed. Some might see this as slightly risky business move, but don’t forget the mantra.
Work it out in an Uber
It was 10 days to go and our team was zipping to Chelsea in an Uber. We had to shoot an advert for the big screen at Fashion Week. We had only had 3 days to work on this, (another blog). Channel 5 were coming to film us and we still hadn’t found a plan to get over 100 shoes to the desert without melting. You’d think we’d be a little stressed. (Desserts backwards baby).
Our first thought was to put our chocolate shoes on a refrigerated plane, “they have those right?”. Tah dah, we’ve solved it. Of course, it’s not that simple. Access to resources on how to get our chocolate shoes onto a refrigerated plane was limited and no one was really able to tell us how exactly to do it. Shipping companies like Fed Ex and DHL provide this service but they expect you to be a massive company shipping huge refrigerated shipments a month, “Oh, that’s how people deliver chocolate all over the world”.
We found that being a bespoke, small but perfectly formed company was not the best outfit to get international shipping done. Worst of all it took weeks to get to this conclusion, countless phone calls and dead ends and guess what, fashion week was only 2 weeks away. In our defence we only had 5 weeks to get over 100 chocolate shoes to Dubai, another chocolate madness we will save for another blog.
Our girl boss, Samona Williams loves a list, and she had a very long one in that Uber. The strategy was to phone as many third-party shipping companies as possible until someone could do it. Apparently she learnt this strategy from Bill Gates. She said, “It’s simple maths, you can try a 100 and get 100 no’s but 101th call will say yes."
Rhenus Logistics Liverpool told us that we didn’t actually need to go on a refrigerated plane. Made sense, chocolate isn’t actually refrigerated, in fact the ideal temperature for our chocolate shoes and any chocolate for that matter is 12-15 degrees. “Oh, so we need temperature controlled, sounds expensive”. For those wondering, temperature controlled shipping does exist and usually used for medicines and can be temperature controlled within the degree in special boxes. These shipments are usually small and yes, it is expensive. You can find out
Thankfully Neil was a little more practical in his approach. Gel packs. “Gel packs? No surely they can’t keep the shipment cold enough in the desert.” And further anxiety inducing in this conversation is that the shipment could not be delivered to the UAE in a day, as we hadpreviously thought, it actually would take three days. Three days, surviving with just gel packs, impossible.
5 minutes to the ad shoot, the director can’t get into to the Fort Knox secure location (we’d tell you who lives there but that would be 'tricky'). The rest of the crew are looking for props, and we talking about gel packs and what seems like the longest shipping time in the world. Luckily for us, Neil was wise and experienced. He explained that the chocolate had to be packed a certain way and with the right amount of gel packs our chocolate shoes could easily be kept cold for three days, “I won’t tell you 100% they are not going to melt, but I haven’t had many casualties”. Thanks Neil super encouraging.
"To be honest the UK side wasn’t an issue and never worried me. We made it clear to transport how fragile the shipment was and that we needed to handle with super care and attention.
My main concern was initially the heat in Dubai. We send shipments to Dubai pretty much on a weekly basis. Most will travel frozen and we will pack with additional coolants to combat the extensive heat. I then saw that all chocolate shoes were handmade with fancy decorations and pearls attached. Upon looking at Cocoa’s Website I quickly realised how difficult the job in had was going to be. I literally didn’t sleep for the next few days!"
In business, you have to take a certain amount of risk, especially when there’s no choice and your pulling into the gates of the filming location to the expectant faces of the crew.
The Uber driver looks at us expectantly. “Oh we have to get out here? We’ll do it Neil”. This is how it went down. We jumped out of the car and were faced with the whole new problem of getting all the shots we needed, with no time, a channel 5 crew and the wrong lighting kit. If you’re interested to see how the ad turned out,
How Do You Wrap and Package Chocolate Shoes?
Of course, the story didn’t end with a frenzied shoot day. Once we wrapped on the shoot, we realised that no-one had dealt with the fragility of shipping chocolate shoes. Chocolate yes, but chocolate shoes, that have delicate temperaments, no. We set about packing and packaging. There were reems of bubble wrap, there were late nights and disgusting stale sandwiches. There were kind family members (thank you!) and polystyrene beads in our hair, all the time.
Refrigerated Chocolate Truck!
We worked like crazy and Neil sent us an amazing temperature controlled truck to pick up our very well wrapped chocolate shoes just 6 days before we were due to fly to Dubai. Channel 5 were on hand to shoot the whole heart wrenching experience, “It’s great telly”. Off our precious chocolate shoes went rattling along the m25 to our pattering heartbeats.
The truck made its way on a 4 hour 20 minute journey, 207.6 miles to Manchester to meet Neil. There , our chocolate shoes bound for Arab Fashion Week in Dubai were packed with their gel packs on palettes. Once they were all packed up the shipment was huge, it weighed 54 kilos, which in shipping terms is not that much, but the volume was over 190 kilos. Over 100 shoes went on a large shipping palette and an extra-large shipping box.
“After much discussions between myself and Cocoa To Thrill, I came up with a good idea to keep the chocolate in layers and separate each leg on the pallet with stanchions to give the pallet some strength and the chocolate would not be touching each other and the weight of the top layers not sat on the bottom layers which can cause unwanted damages.
Unfortunately the shipment came in much larger than anticipated. Initially I thought it was an impossible task, but once I had a few moments to take it all in and have a think I realised we had some box pallets in stock which enabled me to pack the shipment ready to export. The chocolate shoes were already packed quite well by Samona and her team, a lot of time and effort from both companies have clearly gone into the packing of these very fragile shoes. It allowed me to pack and separate into one large box pallet. Shipment was packed and coolants placed on the top of the pallet to keep the chocolate nice and cool while in transit and more importantly when the shipment arrived into Dubai.”
This is how you ship chocolate
Our gorgeous and brave chocolate shoes were packed in a matter of hours, with a whole lot of gel packs, at a temperature of between 2-8 degrees Celsius, and before we knew it, they were on their way to get on their first plane to Germany. Honestly it was like sending kids for their first day of school, excruciating, but you know you have to be brave. In these situations, it’s not a good idea to wonder if all your hard work will melt or break. Our Chocolate Executive Officer (CEO), Samona Williams, was having none of it. There was packing to do, outfits to choose, press releases to write. There was no room for “If the shoes get there”, it was simply “when”.
To help with the heat, customs clearance was completed while our chocolate shoes were sat in Germany. We loved the forward thinking. What we didn’t love however was the fact that our chocolate shoes were split up in Germany. Only half of them arrived in Dubai while the others were stuck in Germany. If you’ve ever been separated from a loved one, you will know the sheer panic the was filling the office. Neil was as chill as the box they were travelling in. “Don’t worry” he assured us, “this happens all the time”. To this day we are not quite sure if this is true or whether there was a calm duck frantically treading water beneath the surface kind of situation but thankfully, the next day, the two boxes were reunited in Dubai. The refresh button on the tracking browser was a little overused during those nail biting 8 hours.
It was heart wrenching, nail biting, chocolate madness all captured by Channel 5 for you all to enjoy. Thankfully our beautiful chocolate shoes arrived in Dubai without melting and not one breakage. "People deliver chocolate all over the world, right". Chocolate magic thinking, isn’t that something.