I’m Wiradjuri and live on my family’s ancestral country in central NSW. My business is Chocolate on Purpose and I handcraft couverture chocolate with Australian native botanicals to create my bushfood chocolate range. Through those flavours, I share the traditional use of native botanicals to deepen respect for our wisdom and culture.
I’ve always been a reinventor. I was working in a bank and was involved in an armed hold-up hostage situation and as a result I developed post traumatic stress disorder. I found that some botanical oils could help my panic attacks, so I went and studied botanical therapy.
I met a good friend, Jo, during that training and I bought her a chocolate making course for her birthday. During the course, it hit me: My ancestors have used bush foods as medicine for tens of thousands of years, that’s what we’ll do.
It became a hobby business for us and, as my marriage ended, I still needed regular income. I was knocked out by that robbery, and I couldn’t go back to work in a bank. I retrained in bookkeeping and noticed, as an older woman going back into the workforce, that you suddenly become invisible. We’re reliable, dependable, but we’re not seen. Then Covid hit and it made me look inside at what’s really important. I decided to leave my job and give Chocolate on Purpose a year to see if I could make it a viable concern.
I found Global Sisters on social media and it sounded like it represented me. You become a part of the sisterhood. They run courses and have a series of coaching sessions and they put you in front of people you would never have the opportunity to be in front of.
Leaving work to focus on the business was frightening, because even though it looks promising, the income is not regular and you never know what is ahead. But I’m 59, and with age comes wisdom. You begin to trust your inner self more. I trusted this was the right thing to do and I can feel there’s momentum behind me. I stayed in full-time work longer than I should have because of fear. The walls and ceilings around us are all self-imposed. If this doesn’t work out, the worst thing that’s going to happen is that I go back into another job.
Our business model means we are able to be agile. Farmers markets dried up in the 2019/2020 bushfires and then Covid hit and everything stopped. We got online, set up a shopping cart and I started using hashtags. Black Lives Matter affected my sales as people wanted to support indigenous businesses, and corporate Australia stepped up.
I’ve decided to create an indigenous chocolate experience and I’ll weave the Wiradjuri language into it as well. One of our chocolates contains guwandang, the Wiradjuri word for quandong, which is proven to reduce blood sugar levels – it’s a wonderful segue into indigenous health.
”I’m a small cog in the wheel of reconciliation; people are curious and want to find out more for themselves. The tide is turning.Fiona HarrisonChocolate on Purpose