Chocolatier Maggie Quirk believes in building a community, staying true to yourself and creating organic chocolate that is both healthy and delicious.
How many years have you owned your own business?
Deva started as a wholesale chocolate business. I’ve been a chocolatier for five years now. The cafe is really new for me, it opened in December last year.
How do you balance work and life responsibilities?
This is probably my biggest challenge in business! Especially now we’ve opened a physical retail space. Let’s just say I’m working on it and I have amazing family support which helps immensely. I also have a dedicated and very talented team around me which I am really grateful for and lucky to have. Without them, none of this would have been possible.
All small businesses have challenges. What have been some of yours and how did you persevere?
Gosh, yes it does. Well, the elephant in the room is COVID but I feel like everyone knows the woes of COVID so I’ll move on. Getting the chocolate cafe off the ground has probably been my biggest challenge to date. The effort that went into it behind the scenes was mammoth and now it’s open it requires six days a week of my time. But in saying that, the rewards make it absolutely worth it. I didn’t anticipate that I’d have created my own little community of local coffee lovers and devoted chocoholics already. I worked in hospitality for many years and it’s been a long time since I did, but I had forgotten about the sense of community that comes along with it and I’ve already met some great people which is a reward in itself.
Who inspires you and why?
I have a great friend who I met years ago when I was working in my first cafe in Newcastle and learning to be a barista! She had her own business in property management at the time. She always seemed confident and relaxed with a great sense of humour, but stuck to her guns when it mattered and rolled with the punches when things went wrong. It was so inspiring as a 20 something year old to see someone with a firm grip on life, even when things got tough. She’s still a great friend and mentor to me and has kicked some major goals in her own career.
What’s been the highlight of your career?
There have been a few for me so far (and hopefully more to come!). We have won three awards for our products in the past two years. The first was an award for our packaging design across the entire 85g chocolate range with the Australian Good Design Awards. The second and third are very recent – in October we took out the Gold and Bronze in the chocolate category of the Clean + Conscious Awards (formerly the Non-Toxic Awards), being recognised against some industry giants for our achievement in creating an organic chocolate that is both healthy and delicious, as well as for our unique home compostable and recycled packaging. The two products we entered were the Organic Medjool Date chocolate (Gold) and the 85g Macadamia Bar (Bronze) – two of our top sellers.
What are some words of advice you would give someone wanting to start their own business?
Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and why. Stay true to yourself – take on feedback, but go with your gut in the end. Celebrate the small wins, sometimes it feels like they can come slowly but it’s important to acknowledge them when they do come. Take time out for yourself and your loved ones – you deserve it and so do they.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud that we keep aiming high and learning from our mistakes. We continually push Deva to become a better version of itself. I’m proud of our resilience, particularly in the past 12 months. I’m proud that we have created a brand that simply does not compromise on quality and we put our money where our mouth is when it comes to sustainability. And now, I am proud that we have a beautiful little space to call our own in one of Tamworth’s most iconic buildings and that we get to meet some of our lovely customers face-to-face and share the journey with them.
location: Tamworth, NSW