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It is so satisfying to learn how our customers found their "sweet" career. Many have taken the brave leap from a secure job to starting up a business based on their creative passion. Marina Rositano from Little Dot Chocolate Shop is one of those "leapers". Jumping into a business that brings not only her customers but also Marina great joy and happiness.
1. How did your sweets business or journey begin?
Little Dot began in Adelaide in 2011, when I decided to leave my professional town planning career of 20 years and pursue my love of bringing people happiness and joy through sweet things. I started baking cupcakes and selling them at a local market and then I ventured into making celebration cakes and cake pops.
Early in 2018, I decided to take Little Dot in a whole new direction by specialising in Chocolate Piñata Smash Cakes - a whole new world of fun. Let’s just say I’ve never been happier in the kitchen. Little Dot's Chocolate Piñata Smash Cakes are joyous to make; each one being a unique creation which I pour my heart and soul into. I love the thought of something
so novel, delicious and eye-catching being the life of the party.
2. What has starting your own business meant for you?
Starting my own business has meant an enormous amount to me. It was a huge step leaving the safety of my career as a Town Planner and I never thought I had the courage to start my own business in an area I was untrained in. I followed other businesses vicariously, thinking that they had the lives I only dreamed of. I was craving creativity and being involved in an industry that makes people happy.
Once I took the plunge I was excited, exhilarated and terrified! I took time setting up my business, as the ‘Planner’ in me wanted everything to be in order and looking the best it could. I’ve grown and evolved with the business and developed so any new skills. I also love the challenge with running your own small business as it takes in so many different facets - marketing, graphic design, problem-solving etc. I also love being responsible for my own success and failures, as it’s very empowering and always makes you strive to be the best you can.
3. What have been/are the biggest challenges you face(d) in regard to starting/building/maintaining your business?
The biggest challenge for me by far has been my health. Unfortunately, the physical demands of the work haven’t agreed with my joints as I’m hypermobile. As a result, I’ve had a number of operations, including two shoulder reconstructions. I need to constantly work on my body to be able to withstand and enjoy my work - weekly physiotherapy, regular massage and I work with a Physio in the gym twice a week and walk regularly. This also means that I can’t necessarily take on the quantities of work I’d like, but that also makes every project or Piñata Smash Cake even more treasured and special, and I pour myself into them.
4. What do you feel are the benefits of using edible images?
Using edible images has been a game-changer for me, particularly working with the edible chocolate transfer sheets. They can take your product to the next level, giving them a huge ‘wow’ factor. Edible images also provide me with enormous design freedom, as they allow you to incorporate any number of themes or touch on peoples different hobbies. They’re also a huge amount of fun!
5. What is your favourite type of treat/design to create?
I love, love, love being given a theme for Piñata Smash Cakes. Often the more challenging themes can end up being the most rewarding. I also love making Smash Cakes with a modern edge. I made a ‘Sphere’s Smash Cake’ based on a chocolate design I saw in a shop window in Warsaw 18 months ago. I made some of the Belgian chocolate spheres on top into mini Smash Cakes by filling them with lollies too!
6. What is the current trend you’re seeing in edible images?
Printing onto chocolate is quite a novelty for my clients and it opens up so many possibilities. Chocolate iPhones, business cards and choc pops are exciting goodies which always get a big ‘wow’ on reception! I’ve also recently released a range of Chocolate Bubbly Bottles with personalised edible image labels - people love adding a bit of themselves to a gift.
7. What is the funniest/most unusual sweet creation you’ve been asked to make?
Last year I had a gorgeous new client contact me and explain that she was after something different for her wedding cake. We came up with several ideas for a Piñata Smash Cake and in the end, she told me she wanted a black Piñata Smash Cake and asked me what I could do. To be honest, I was filled with fear as I hadn’t coloured chocolate black before and needed to come up with a special and edgy design, so I spent some time playing around and came up with a simple form with a black and silver chocolate sail. The Smash Cake also had to be robust enough to travel to a country winery, so I sent a spare chocolate sail along in case it came to grief during transport. I must say, I’m so pleased the bride pushed me to make something so different as I think the end result was so stunning and stylish and the bride and groom were thrilled to bits.
8. Do you have any tips you can share when either printing or applying edible images?
I must say, the Edible Image Supplies Chocolate Transfer Sheets are brilliant and I just follow the instructions provided. I’ve found it really important to maintain the printer though, and make sure you run it every week, or twice a week in Summer to make sure the heads don’t dry out. I’ve left it a bit long over Summer when I’ve been on holidays and then had to wrestle it back into working order. However, the instructions on the Edible Image Supplies website are great and always see me through.
9. What is your “can’t live without” sweet making tool?
I can’t live without my chocolate tempering machine, without a doubt. It allows me to use beautiful Belgian chocolate, and the machine pretty well takes care of the tempering while I do other prep work. It has been an investment, as they’re not cheap, but it means no tears with getting the tempering right and I can make efficient use of my time. I wouldn’t part with it for anything!
10. What do you do for yourself within your life and business to help avoid or alleviate burnout?
I find it really important to keep up my personal fitness to give me the stamina and strength required in the kitchen. I also make sure I find time for my hobbies... reading, needlework (a true Granny skill but I find it very meditative and relaxing), going to the movies and catching up with my friends. It’s important to have balance as burnout isn’t fun and the love goes out of what you’re doing. Life is too short for that!
11. What is your career highlight to date?
My career highlight has been reinventing my business after my shoulder reconstructions, as I was pretty well told by my doctors that I couldn’t work anymore - that was very overwhelming as I love what I do so much and I have the loveliest clients. In fact, changing from baking fresh cakes to working with chocolate has been the best change and I much prefer what I do now - for some reason it gets my creative juices going more and I’m really fulfilled with what I’m doing. Working with couverture chocolate is also very challenging and there’s always so much to learn - I love that and I feel so fortunate.