Yesterday I visited the Carrol Boyes head office in Paarden Eiland, and was shown around its extensive and impressive Showroom, and Chocolate and Sugar Confectionery production facility by its CEO Craig Ludwig.
Carrol Boyes (right) studied BA Fine Arts, specialising in sculpture. From a career as an art teacher, she moved into the production of home use products 29 years ago, the first item she made being pewter salad servers. She understood branding, and the prestige of owning a Carrol Boyes product, often purchased as a gift for oneself or for a special person. As her company grew, she let go of dealing with all aspects of it herself, and focused on the creative side, producing a new item to add to the Carrol Boyes range every week. We were told that she withdraws into her own studio over a weekend, and on a Monday she brings a plasticine sculpture prototype of what she has developed to work. This is cleaned up, translated into a silicone mould, and evaluated for go/no go. Then the join lines are cleaned up, and every item is hand-polished, making it shiny, a very labour-intensive process.
The Showroom that I, Rebecca Bourhill, and Aurélie Jullien were shown by Craig (right) was impressive, reflecting the range of about 1500 products, all related at the core to the dinner table and ‘embracing conversation’. The bar trolley is an iconic design, and so many but not all Carrol Boyes products are irreverent in their design, in using quirky interpretations of the human figure. Having started the range with cutlery, first in pewter and then in aluminum and stainless steel to make it lighter and more cost-effective, the Carrol Boyes brand now includes dinnerware, home decor, home office products, glassware, wine and champagne, jewelry, and most recently, boxes of chocolates. Cutlery is now dishwasher-friendly, and its handles can be imprinted and laser cut. A staff of 100 in retail stores, 120 at head office, and 50 in manufacturing makes up the Carrol Boyes family. Craig is the CEO, having joined the company four years ago, after previously working as a consultant, and at Woolworths and Clicks. His passion for the brand and its unlimited future growth and possibilities is evident. He described Carrol Boyes as a ‘Design-led company’. It is sold in 21 of their boutique stores, online, on Yuppiechef, is popular as corporate gifting and incentive rewarding, and in department stores locally, as well as in department stores, independent stockists, and gift shops in 30 countries. To assist the WWF they sell ‘Save the Rhino’ items, 25% of the proceeds going to the worthy cause.
Each Carrol Boyes product leads to the creation of another. So, for example, having coasters and bottle openers and corkscrews in its range led to the wine range created by Barnardt Boyes, a partnership of Carrol’s brother John and his university friend Dr Neels Barnardt, in launching a wine range six years ago with winemaker Hendrik Snyman, with the stand-out creative Carrol Boyes label design. Wines cost between R80 – R145. The Carrol Boyes wine range includes Cape Blend, Shiraz, Merlot, Brut Rosé, Rosé, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Fine Red Blend, MCC, and Chenin Blanc. They market a French champagne too, selling at R1500, produced by Guy Charbaut.
Chocolatier Gary Welgemoed met us at the entrance to his section, and we had to wash our hands, dry them off, put on a white coat, and a hair net, as well as use a hand sanitizer before entering the Chocolate and Sweet Confectionery division. The love by Gary for his products can be clearly seen, and he described the confectionery which he and his team makes as ‘nostalgia’ products, and are not overly sweet. They make fruit jelly (with unusual fruits such as litchi and pineapple), marshmallow (made from unusual fruit such as blueberry, strawberry and vanilla), nougat, coconut ice, honeycomb, brittle, toffee, and fudge. These products will be branded for clients, or under a second Carrol Boyes house brand.
The Carrol Boyes Chocolate Collection range consists of three gift boxes, with milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and an assorted one, costing R99 in their stores. The pay-off line for the chocolate range is ‘Inspired by her art’. They have the coil and somersault design chocolates, as well as a flat slab, amongst others. It is clear to extrapolate where the chocolate range will grow, with the Carrol Boyes policy of cross-fertilisation between products. Wine and chocolates are not only a good partnership in eating and drinking, but the wines could be very likely to soon be inside the chocolates, given the Carrol Boyes wine range, as well as other popular spirits such as whisky, brandy, and gin, I am speculating.
Gary started his confectionery business 28 years ago, making sweet confectionery by consulting old books, to get the nostalgic feel and taste. We were shown a machine from the 1960s which they use to make candy cane and other Sweet products. He was appointed by Carrol Boyes last August, and set up the Division within four months, being able to present their first products to a major retailer. He told us that they cook with gas, and that the secret to success is their copper pots, one we saw costing R60000. They develop products to please the customers’ palate, and are not overly sweet. Sugar-free confectionery is the trend, so Gary and his team will look at developing this too. Using fruit and coating/adding chocolate could be on the cards too, when I saw a pocket of oranges. Sugar, water, and glucose is the base of all their sweet confectionery.
As much as the Carrol Boyes home product range is artisanal, so is its chocolate and sweet confectionery range too, being true to the essence of the brand. We were told that Carrol Boyes fudge and toffee will be rolled out soon. The soft melt-in-the-mouth toffee tasted amazing.
Carrol Boyes, Island Centre, corner Industry and Cumberland Roads, Paarden Eiland, Cape Town. Tel (021) 424-8263 www.carrolboyes.com Twitter:@CarrolBoyes Instagram: @carrolboyesofficial
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein