The Rise and Fall of Felicity Alwell

Talking of empire building, since I last managed to post on this blog work completely took over my life. My own little self-employed empire and apparently I’m not alone.

The UK is now the ‘self-employment capital of Western Europe’, say the people in the know. Lately I’ve seen more and more conversations about the self-employed and why it is that it’s on the rise…

We’ve all been made redundant!
We want better work-life balance!
We want to be our own boss!

In the midst of reading these various random reasons I came across the Royal Society for the Arts and their work with, you guessed it, one of our favourite former chocolate empires, The Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Their work has set out to tackle the fact that we might not make as much money, indeed we may be one of the most vulnerable working groups in society, but we sure are a happier for it – apart from the lack of chocolate tax relief that is.

Chocolate as business expense

I came to self-employment out of a mixture of necessity and ambition. I was given a chance to move on after (another) period of restructure in an organisation that I didn’t like working for any longer. There was my chance…and I took it and haven’t looked back since.

Saying that, every so often I see a full time job that I could do and put in an application. When I don’t get picked for an interview, I’m pretty outraged – “how dare they not want me?! Their loss”. For the ones I get an interview for, I’m put off as soon as the commute starts. With that, I remember why I really didn’t want to do this in the first place. That’s all the impetus I need to get started on a new project or two…or three…or more. Of course, this won’t always be the case.

Some of the statistics surrounding being self-employed (or more specifically, freelancing like me) are outlined in this infographic – ‘the great unsung heroes of the British workforce’.

In the end, to be good at being self-employed is to be resilient. To have the ability to self-reflect and the stubbornness to do it anyway!

Stupid Raisins, Stay Out of My Cookies

As much as I would like to talk about Superman all day, I have to admit that there have been instances where he has behaved like a dick. I came across this through Ranker – a crowdsourcing rankings site that lets anyone participate by voting or reranking lists.

The principles of crowdsourcing are simple – more heads a better than one. The most famous example is probably Wikipedia, but there are other notable examples. T-shirt company Threadless uses crowd sourced design ideas for its products, whilst crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and We Did This can be used to fund artistic endeavours such as classical music concerts in pubs and guides to ‘getting awesome with women’.

This of course brings us to the controversial world of chocolate. An obvious topic when you think about it. A canny reader would now be able to reason that they could combine their sweet tooth with their need for clothing. For example, with this wonderful Threadless invention and inspiration for the title of today’s post.

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However, for our listings/crowdsourcing purposes I shall turn to Richard Osman and his recent World Cup of Chocolate. I won’t go over the ins and outs of the results as Osman’s contest speaks for itself, but as a person partial to a Twirl I can’t complain at its achievements at winning the top prize. Ranker, however, has other ideas, placing Aero to the top of the list. A controversial discovery I’m sure you will agree.

Kit-Kat or Boost, Double Decker or Malteser, the friendly rivalries of chocolate banter do not often translate to the hard-nosed business and marketing departments of chocolate makers. This is a shame, particularly as the beginnings of many of these companies were established with a capitalist ‘Quaker’ conscience.

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Of the Quaker families that emerged out of the English civil war, names like Cadbury, Rowntree and Fry remain with us today. The very idea of big business to them seems at odds with today’s world for as soon as they could, families like Cabury began putting their money towards the common good. Much of this rich history can be found in Deborah Cabury’s, Chocolate Wars, a book well worth a read for those who are interested in 250 years of (chocolate) empire building.