From a career in corporate HR to founding a successful food brand might not seem like the most natural transition, but two years after launching Raw Halo, Meg Haggar certainly hasn’t looked back. Stockists including Harrods and Planet Organic, a dedicated social following and absolutely smashing a round of crowdfunding – the days when Raw Halo’s founder was making chocolate at home in West London must seem like centuries ago! Organic, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, the brand’s delicious – and award-winning raw chocolate offers a healthier alternative to everyone’s favourite sweet treat – it’s made with coconut sugar, nut butters and antioxidant-rich raw cacao. Hell, it’s almost good for you! Here’s to be a true startup star…

Why did you launch your own business?

Whilst I loved my career in HR, and since university that’s all I had hoped for, I started to realise it didn’t fulfill me on a creative level – something so important for me personally. The idea of launching my own business gave me a real sense of excitement. Before launching my business I’d completely given up refined sugar, which meant I really struggled to find chocolate that tasted nice but without sugar. After experimenting in my kitchen at home I quickly realised it was possible to make healthier chocolate that tasted great, using coconut sugar. It’s at that point I launched Raw Halo and I’ve never really looked back.

Who helped you out?

In researching other startup brands in the food and drink sector, it seemed almost all founders had an advisor or mentor, and whilst this may have benefited me, I just didn’t end up meeting a specific person who I felt would add huge value to the business. So the main support I received in the beginning was from my family, friends, and of course other brand owners who became close friends. It was in the second year of the business when my partner Jonathan joined Raw Halo, and that enabled us to grow the business further by relocating back to Derbyshire and setting up a micro factory.

Best business advice you’ve been given along the way ?

Whilst not strictly business advice, it’s definitely something I apply – and that’s persistence. My mum drove that into me from a young age. If there’s something you want, somewhere you’re trying to get to, don’t give up. This has been such an important piece of advice and it’d be the same thing I’d tell any new start-up founder. With Raw Halo initially I hit many closed doors, but the key was to keep on knocking.

What problems have you faced along the way?

A successful business will certainly face many problems along the way. I try to view them as hurdles, which can be overcome, and it’s a certainty that more will be waiting around the next corner. The majority of hurdles in the first couple of years of the business were around production, in that scaling from a few hundred bars to 20,000 per month was a huge challenge. To scale up so quickly required investment, and that’s where we turned to crowdfunding to help take the business to the next level. We found great success there, and that’s massively changed the business from an operations perspective.

How do you feel about women in business today?

There are so many amazing women who are disrupting many traditionally male-dominated sectors, and that has to be hugely positive for the next generation especially. When I look around at the food and drink industry in particular, there are as many inspiring women as men running hugely successful brands, so I hope that inspires the next wave of women thinking about launching their own businesses.

Favourite startups?

Some of my favourite startups include Too Wordy, run by the talented Maeve Brooks. She creates the most delightful greetings card and prints, so much so her business is growing very quickly. I also love a brand called Lani who produce natural and vegan friendly beauty products in the most beautiful packaging.

Tell us about your work life balance?

My work life balance is much closer to ideal than it has been over the past few years. Since we outsourced our production earlier this year, I’ve been able to take back control and make a more conscious effort to take me-time. Most importantly I’m able to run the business in the hours that most make sense to me, so that might be working at weekends and evenings if I’m busy during the week. Sometimes it feels like I’m on a different time zone, but luckily my partner works similar hours so generally works.

What do you do to relax/when you’re stressed?

I always turn to yoga when in need of some relaxation. When in London I’m a regular at Fierce Grace (I love their classes), so I enjoy getting in some practice at home. Other than that I’m definitely guilty of turning to our Pure Dark bars in times of need!

What are you proudest of and why?

The proudest moment was to see Raw Halo becoming stocked in Whole Foods Market. Visiting their flagship store on Kensington High Street was my absolute favourite weekend activity and to see a huge display of our chocolate bars in there during my last visit was a true highlight. Certainly a reminder that all of the hard work and effort is worthwhile.

Can you run in heels?

Definitely, there might be the odd stumble here or there, but I’ll always pick myself up again!

Raw Halo is available to buy online at RawHalo.com. You can also follow the brand on Instagram @RawHalo, catch up with Raw Halo on Facebook and see the latest news on Twitter