Chocolates come in many flavors, but have you tried kaya toast, teh tarik, gula melaka or calamansi chocolates?

AnjaliChocolat is one local brand that features these Singapore flavors in its artisanal chocolates.

Photo by AnjaliChocolat.

The signature collection, named “From Singapore Lah”, was created after AnjaliChocolat’s founder Anjali Gupta received many customers’ requests for gift sets that represent Singapore.

Photo by Rachel Tam.

“Apart from the fact that we’re located in Singapore and we make [the chocolates] in Singapore, there’s nothing else that says made in Singapore because we were making very European-style chocolates,” Ms Gupta said.

So she did her research and came out with an assortment of 15 Singapore-inspired chocolate flavors. The collection caught the eye of the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s representatives, who included it in the gift sets for foreign delegates at the 33rd Asean Summit in 2018.

Photo by Rachel Tam.

That was a big encouragement for Ms Gupta, as it reassured her that she’d made a good call when she decided to leave her chartered accountant job for entrepreneurship.

Born in India, Ms Gupta graduated with a Master of Business & Administration degree and has worked in countries such as Indonesia, Mexico and Turkey before relocating to Singapore in 2012 and taking up citizenship in 2016.

“I had a knack for numbers and reading balance sheets, so going into accounting was not me doing something that didn’t come to me naturally,” she explained.

But the long hours at work were keeping her away from her young daughter. She also got tired of having to keep proving herself whenever she moved to a new country and joined a new firm. Her family had relocated several times because of her husband’s job.

“I felt like a rolling stone because I would go to a completely different country and whatever I had gained in [the previous] stint could not be brought over,” Ms Gupta said.

Photo by Rachel Tam.

So after mulling over her career prospect and exploring a few hobbies, she decided that selling artisan chocolates is her calling.

“One of the motivators of starting my own business was that I wanted to be the master of my own destiny. I wanted to be the one deciding what I do with myself.”

Ms Gupta opened AnjaliChocolat in July 2013. She’s grown from a one-woman show to a team of 5. They make their products by hand in a kitchen at Dempsey Hill. That’s where they run their retail store and chocolate making workshops as well.

Photo by Rachel Tam.

It’s been close to 7 years but Ms Gupta is not tired of being a chocolatier yet.

“You’re constantly looking to innovate. You’re constantly looking to improve your product, your packaging. So there’s always something to look forward to—it’s not static, you don’t stand still.”

Photo by Rachel Tam.

To keep her staff just as motivated, she encourages them to contribute new ideas and recognizes their creativity.

“We discuss together the collection for every season, and everyone gives their ideas on what they think we could incorporate for this year.”

AnjaliChocolat’s Valentine’s Day chocolate collection. Photo by Rachel Tam.

Being her own boss comes with its own challenges. A small business always has to struggle with hiring and retaining staff, Ms Gupta said. She also has to look after the cashflow closely.

But at the end of the day, the ride is worth it. “If you have a burning desire to create something, if you want to set up your own brand, if you want to make a mark, if you want to do something like that and the motivation is not money—then set up your business,” Ms Gupta said.

“Set up a business if you are passionate and want to bring it to people.”

Ms Gupta is now a full-time artisan chocolatier and runs her own business, AnjaliChocolat. Photo by AnjaliChocolat.