Nature Therapy has always predominantly been about women – but we make exceptions, especially when he’s an incredibly hardworking, talented, handsome and charismatic man – Ishan Pansuria, the chocolatier behind bean-to-bar Toska Chocolates.
Ishan and I go back a few years now – from a time when we both began our humble beginnings into the world of retail and ecommerce. The connection was instant - from doing small consignments, mini pop up shows to product collaborations and having each other’s back while figuring things out in the retail world! We now has a collaborative product in the market: Chai Masala Hot Cocoa. This young man is never without a smile, even after spending hours at his chocolate lab creating fabulous unique flavours, personally visiting his stockists, and writing invoices at 2 am on a Saturday night! And I’ve also been told he is also the perfect son and brother – a terrific package! Ishan is made from charming positive vibes that can change the energy of any room. Oh, and he uses No. 3 Lemongrass After Bath + Body Oil and Soap everyday – and his ‘me time’ still includes work – with that adorable smile! He fits in perfectly with #NTPeople!
A little known fact – he studied civil engineering and joined his family’s chemicals business for a few years before venturing out on his own – starting with a course at Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy. Ishan now lives, breathes and sleeps chocolate
We asked him questions on his journey of starting his own business in a different field than he studies, and how he balances his life amid the chocolate madness.
Tell us your relationship with skincare, and if you follow a routine?
I was gifted Lemongrass After Bath + Body Oil and Lemongrass Bath Soap by Kamini herself and since then I have stopped using anything else for my skin. I shower with the soap and apply oil after my shower.
When did you discover your passion for chocolate?
I have always been a chocolate person and when I was exposed to fine chocolates while travelling abroad, I realised the lack of fine chocolates in India. And that’s when the research started and the idea of my very own bean-to-bar chocolate brand: Toska.
Who or what inspires you in your work?
Every day I look for an inspiration. Every day on social media I come across so many out-of-the-box brands with so many unique ideas and amazing work - it inspires me to do to even better work than them. I am always on my toes and try to bring out the best in me.
How do you balance your work and personal life?
You always have to keep your priorities straight whether it’s work or personal life. My priorities depend on how much I am needed anywhere. But honestly, it’s imbalanced if you ask my Mother as my work is my identity and that’s always going to be my first priority!
How often can you carve out your ‘me time’ and what does it entail?
It’s very difficult to carve out “me time” during weekdays but sometimes when it gets too chaotic at work I quietly sneak out to work from my favourite café, a kind of “me time” for me.
What is the most difficult part of starting your own business and how do you deal with setbacks?
The most difficult part I faced was in the initial stages where the price of my chocolates was higher than the mass-produced chocolates, as we do not use any kind of bad vegetable fat or any artificial flavours in our chocolates and hence the bars are priced high. But once clients were able to understand the concept and after trying the chocolates there was not a single negative response.
Social media is playing an integral role in sales of every business. How hard or easy has it been for you to adopt this channel?
Toska Chocolates’ journey started with Instagram as it was launched on Instagram. I received my first order on this social media platform! The main reason behind me launching on social media platform is because humans are spending more time on social media in their day to day life. Online shopping is fast increasing every day. So, social media is a very integral part of our sales and we try every single day to make our presence reach wider audience through social media.
Can you share any advice for those aspiring to begin their own business in chocolate / confectionaries?
The only advice is to be unique, be out of the box, understand your target audience, be honest about what you are making, be transparent with your consumer – whether it is in person or social media, and have a story behind your brand’s inception.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2020?
I have so many things planned for this year for increasing online and offline presence through amazing cafes and online mediums. Opening a flagship store of Toska Chocolates is in the pipelines, where I would like to demonstrate the entire bean-to-Toska Chocolate bar process in a hands-on way to chocolate-lovers! This year is about making more personal connections with our customers and chocolate aficionados.