Inspired by the film “Chocolat” - of course - Coco Mudgee is one sweet enterprise that is creating connections between Courtenay Trethowan and her community.
Tell us a little bit about Coco Mudgee -
Coco Mudgee is a chocolate concept store celebrating life's special moments. Nestled in the heart of Mudgee NSW, alongside our own chocolate label you will find other Australian-made chocolate brands and beautiful gifts that go hand in hand with the country lifestyle. Coco Mudgee also hosts a coffee bar for that little pause we all need throughout the day. Our purpose is to explore Australia through our Australian chocolate makers and chocolatiers and to create a community for the love of chocolate and the Australian country.
What inspired you to start Coco Mudgee?
After having my beautiful son Atlas I was determined to create a life for us that was beautifully fun, creative, and delicious. My passion for chocolate has always been something that I am known for and watching the movie “Chocolate” with my sister and mother as a little girl most likely has a big role to play in the creation of Coco Mudgee! Growing up in rural NSW I have always had an everlasting love for the Australian countryside - to me, there is nothing better than the vast Aussie landscape, the people, and the peace.
What are some challenges you have faced and how did you overcome them since starting your own business?
I have learnt that I am not for everyone and that is totally OK! I am very blessed to have such a support system behind my business and that really uplifts and drives me to be unapologetically myself. I have self-doubts and insecurities just like lots of people but at the end of the day I remind myself why I am doing this and that is the most crucial thing to remember.
How did you spend your day before starting Coco Mudgee? Before Coco Mudgee I was a registered nurse, working in emergency and surgical nursing. I never in a million years thought I could start something like Coco Mudgee but after having my son, I truly believed I could do anything. I think women are absolutely amazing and we have so much potential. When Atlas was just six months old and during the lockdown, my vision for what I wanted to create for my family grew stronger and Covo Mudgee started evolving. We opened our doors when he was nine months old and haven't looked back since.
What advice would you give to the next generation of women in business?
Find your people! Find people that you love and that support you, surround yourself with encouragement, and give encouragement and support back. Know that it’s OK to not have to please everybody and that you and your ideas are not for everyone. Forgive your mistakes and learn from them. Be kind and most importantly have fun and let your creative mind flow.
Women have long represented the archetype of the ‘juggler’. How do you balance work and life/mum responsibilities?
I am definitely not the one to give advice about work life and mum life. I have been judged for working with a 6-month-old and experienced a ton of mum guilt. I believe that there is no “right” way to do this and we have to allow ourselves forgiveness and trust that we will learn along the way. One thing I am practicing this year is to set boundaries, little things like leaving admin for office hours and not home hours, prioritising and communicating your day-to-day routine with other members of your household; having set chocolate-making days and not making chocolate at 10 pm at night after I have put my son to bed! We need to look after ourselves because we absolutely deserve a fabulous life!
What’s on the horizon for Coco Mudgee in 2023?
We are always looking for more amazing Australian-made chocolate that aligns with our ethos. Plus re-launching our Coco Club membership box with lots of new and exciting monthly flavours. We are working on putting Coco Mudgee chocolate into more stores across Australia. This year will be about creative direction, having more fun, eating more chocolate, and connecting with our tribe.
Location: Mudgee | NSW