Our next Mayku Maker story comes from a chocolatier based in the Netherlands - meet Anna Hajrapetian, who uses vacuum forming to make custom chocolate molds with her Mayku FormBox.
Anna decided she wanted to work with chocolate 9 years ago when she was on maternity leave after having her first child. Ironically, she was never a huge fan of chocolate, however, while on holiday in Rome, Anna was drawn to a small chocolate boutique and bought one of their 70 Euro chocolate bars. From there, she became obsessed with chocolate and how it’s made - she knew she wanted to create bespoke chocolates.
How to start a custom chocolate business
Once Anna was back from Rome, she spent a year learning everything she could about chocolate, using her home as her workshop and trying to master the art of chocolate creation.
“Just one year I was training and doing everything from home and after that, because I got so many questions, I made a chocolate face.” - Anna Hajrapetian
Once Anna had learned everything about creating chocolate, she built herself a close-knit team of 5, taking on everything from client building to creative direction and logistics in house.
A core value of Milachocolata is that Anna didn’t want to create the same chocolate bar shapes you can get everywhere, she wanted her products to be unique and almost have the same feel as the luxury chocolate shop she visited in Rome that inspired her.
“I wanted to make it more personal and custom made so that it’s not something that you can just buy in a normal grocery store, but something, you know, with a bit of edge and luxury.” - Anna Hajrapetian
Initially, Anna didn’t want to create chocolates to sell in shops, so she reached out and collaborated with brands including Max Mara and Jaguar, creating bespoke, branded chocolate to help them celebrate a product launch or event.
Years later, while Milachocolata has an online store selling unique products (with prices ranging from €1 - €1,000), they also have a longstanding partnership with Makro, creating a range of Christmas chocolates like the one below on the FormBox.
Anna’s eye for individuality and desire to constantly create her own chocolate mold designs led her to vacuum forming and the Mayku FormBox.
How to reduce the cost of custom chocolate molds with the Mayku FormBox and save time!
Over the years, Anna has built a portfolio of clients she has worked with, but she wanted to keep her ideas fresh and bring them to life without the need to order expensive custom-made polycarbonate molds each time, which often took weeks or even months to arrive.
Anna had seen the FormBox 5 or 6 years ago when she had not long started Milachocolata and, although she wasn’t ready to invest in one yet, she was instantly enamoured by its potential.
“I bumped into the FormBox again a year or so ago and I was so happy. I said, ‘oh, I have to buy it’. So I did!” - Anna Hajrapetian
When creating new products, Anna digitally sketches her idea and sends it to her designer who then firms up the measurements and makes a template. This template is either made out of laser-cut wood or acrylic and sent to Anna to vacuum form in order to make her custom mold. Once this is made Anna fills it with chocolate to test if the design looks right and to see if it can be released from the mold without damaging the chocolate.
There have been a few occasions where the design has been aesthetically pleasing but didn’t follow some of the rules of designing for vacuum forming and therefore the template was stuck in the mold. Be sure to learn the fundamentals of designing for vacuum forming to ensure you have the best success.
Even though the template creation process takes some back and forth to perfect the final design, by using the FormBox and bringing this process in house, Anna has saved herself the countless time, money and resources it would take to figure this out with an external party. This is extremely important as Milachocolata can receive thousands of orders per item per month from customers all over Europe, so the process of expanding their offering needs to be as efficient as possible.
For all of the new designs, Anna and the Milachocolata team use the FormBox to create their initial mold for testing and when starting production. They will create 10 or more of the same molds so that they can make multiple chocolates at a time, keeping a close eye on orders. If they look as though they will make more than 10,000 units of a particular design (this is usually the case for non-seasonal items like the birthday cake design), they will order custom-made polycarbonate molds that will allow them to further optimize their manufacturing to meet the highest demands. Even when moving to polycarbonate molds, prototyping an idea first with the FormBox is a great way to approve a concept before spending on the external mold making service.
Similarly, for collaboration projects with brands like Makro where they need to create more than 10,000 chocolates, Anna will prototype and finesse the final design with the FormBox and then get polycarbonate molds made to speed up their fulfilment process.
Even though polycarbonate molds are still an important part of the fulfilment process for the Milachocolata team, they very much depend on their FormBox.
“If I don't have the FormBox, I would need to go more steps, more places, more companies to make something. Because I have it, it gives me a shorter time to make something really great or very unique.” - Anna Hajrapetian
The benefits of the Mayku FormBox over custom-made polycarbonate molds
Low initial cost
It costs just £599 for everything you need to get started. Each FormBox comes with 40 sheets, 1kg of casting material, 3 starter templates and a universal vacuum adapter, Anna could get making right away!
Significant time savings
When working on a new Milachocolata prototype, Anna does not need to spend excessive time and money going back and forth with edits to a mold designer for a polycarbonate mold. Anna can experiment with the FormBox to test and finalise her design, seeing and feeling her alterations in minutes - especially when she’s doing a test cast with chocolate.
Massively reduced costs
Each new mold can cost as little as £1, meaning one-off pieces are easy to fulfil and customer requests do not eat into her profit margin. Making one of something is simple and when she's ready to make in batches, her costs are kept low.
Want to learn more? You can follow @TeamMayku on social media, join our Facebook Group, the Mayku Community or request to Speak to a Specialist at any time to find out how you could use a FormBox for your next project.