One year ago, Jade Davidson took a leap of faith. One that would land her right in the centre of indulgence.
Begging the question, was it still a leap of faith?
“I’d always secretly had a wish to open my own chocolate business, but in a different way from the standard retail shopfront,” Jade says. “After moving to Ballarat, I quickly noticed how kind and incredibly supportive the community was to local business, and I knew I had to move quickly if I wanted to be the first chocolatier in Ballarat.”
Jade is the maker and founder behind Ballarat’s Lucky and James.
A one-woman show, the business harnesses Jade’s crafts(wo)manship – serving up a confectionary offering that was yet to be unearthed in Ballarat.
Jade’s love for chocolate stems back to when she was a little girl sneaking extra Milo and Nutella from pantry to palate. Her desire for cocoa-infused wonderment continued through to adulthood when she travelled the world, frequenting every chocolate shop discoverable.
At age 21, Jade stumbled upon an advertisement for a chocolate apprentice. Fast forward 15 years, and she has shared her talents with companies including Cacao Fine Chocolates, Monsieur Truffle and even Koko Black.
When it came to opening up her own venture, it really was a no brainer.
Currently based out of Jade’s home kitchen, Lucky and James provides the artisan with an opportunity to seek solace and mindfulness amongst the demands of everyday life.
“I love that making chocolate forces me to be slow down and be patient,” she says. “If you rush chocolate it won’t cooperate. I suppose it’s my form of mindfulness practise. I missed it terribly when I wasn’t doing it.”
“Initially I was doing a lot of production late at night when my kids went to bed, which meant that I was constantly exhausted and struggling during the day.
“I have a lot more balance now, and generally start early in the mornings, do three to four hours around the kids, and then have the rest of the day with them.
“It’s pretty special to be able to do this around my kids. I do wonder whether they will look back and appreciate having a mum who made chocolate at home while they grew up.”
The name Lucky and James itself hearkens back to when Jade and her husband were travelling in New York.
“They started yelling out ‘Lucky and James?’, and after quite a while we realised they meant us,” she fondly recalls. “I thought, ‘Hey, that could be a strong name one day!’ so I wrote it down in my phone. When I decided to go into business, I knew that would be the name.”
Jade’s chocolate blocks are wrapped in the Lucky and James Willy Wonka-esque golden foil – a nod to Ballarat’s history – and enclosed with the brand’s signature blue and white packaging - a design that has led to Lucky and James becoming a recognisable household name.
And while Jade sources her chocolate from premium Swiss couverture Felchlin, she says her inclusions are locally-sourced and homemade, such as her homemade cookies and honeycomb, as well as the flavoursome and soft Grounded Pleasures marshmallows.
“I use Grounded Pleasures marshmallows in my milk and dark Rocky Road bars, and I use their cocoa powder in my Cookies & Cream bars,” she says. “Their marshmallows are definitely my favourite product.”
“My focus is to make good old fashioned, delicious chocolate. No fussy flavours, just chocolate that people want to come back to again and again.”
Since launching, the Lucky and James line has expanded to feature Limited Edition bars and minis for seasonal production.
But even though her venture has spread like wildfire since its inception a year ago – now stocked at stores across Ballarat and surrounding regions, as well as in Melbourne through to Wagga Wagga – Jade says she’s in no rush to expand out of her humble home kitchen anytime soon.
“I'm not in a rush to grow too quickly,” she says. “I really want to make sure I remain focussed on quality and delivering fantastic chocolate to my customers. Plus it gives me the fortunate position of being able to work around my kids while they are small.”
“It's definitely come as a complete surprise that we’ve done as well as we have. I've been so fortunate to receive wonderful support from the Ballarat community and I'm incredibly grateful.
“It is also such a wonderful thing to be doing what you love and being in control of your own destiny. “
Author: Dellaram Vreeland