Available on all platforms Tuesday, 14th of March 2023, innovation, exploration, a stellar social media strategy and hand-crafted decadent chocolate take centre stage on the new episode of Tech Powered Luxury, as Irish Chocolatier Gráinne Mullins sits down with fellow Galway native Ashley McDonnell to chat all about her sell-out homegrown brand, how lockdown and social media played an integral part of her launch strategy and how she will incorporate Web3 into her quest for global reach.

 

From a very young age, Gráinne was always hands-on in the kitchen, noting during the conversation that she would be regularly found reading a cookbook over a traditional novel when growing up and often found testing a host of recipes in the kitchen for family and friends alike. Grainne’s interest in academics and love of learning ultimately lead to her enrolling in a Science degree in NUIG while working part-time“I was studying Biochemistry, Chemistry and Microbiology but at the same time I was working in kitchens so I absolutely loved finishing college as early as I could and getting to a kitchen to cook and to serve food and to get my hands stuck in. So I suppose that was kind of my realisation of where is my happy place and what really it is that I want to be doing with the rest of my life”

 

Ultimately Gráinne made the life-changing decision to leave her degree and follow her first love in the kitchen, this time to the South of France. Gráinne moved to the Côte d’Azur to work in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Aix-en-Provence, of which she was promoted to Head Pastry Chef within the year before winning the prestigious 2019 Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year award, a sensational honour for a self-taught chef. Gráinne notes how she used her academic science background in the kitchen, seamlessly merging her two passions, “I had never studied culinary arts and because everyone else had they had kind of a bit more of a classic knowledge base and the usual way of looking at a recipe whereas I was supposed was coming from a bit more of a science background and that kind of led me to being able to explain a lot of ingredients. Why something might be happening, why a cake might not be rising, why if you add too much sugar the cake turns out completely different……it actually provided a really interesting way to be in the kitchen and understand the food”

 

An immediate victim of her own success, Gráinne Mullins returned home and launched her eponymous brand, Grá Chocolates, in the Summer of 2020, while we were all deep within lockdown, selling out within 8 minutes!When speaking about her decision to launch during that time, Gráinne says,“the world was a very different place and people didn’t really have access to eating out nice restaurants or going out to socialise but what they could do is still eat things at home…. when we launched it sold out on in eight minutes. That first night we launched it the site crashed. We had no access to it, it oversold. It was a bit hectic”. 

When speaking about what sets Grá Chocolates apart, Grainne discusses the love and care put into each individually hand-painted chocolate, “We put a lot of love care and attention into every single thing we do. From the creation of flavours, the planning beforehand, then from actually making them, packing them and most importantly, I think, when the customer is receiving them. That they’re receiving them and feeling a bit of joy but they also might be gifting them to someone else. They’re passing on that bit of Grá {the Irish word for love.}

 

Beloved by all who have experienced the brand, Gráinne also discusses the ‘pinch me’ moment when luxury retailer Brown Thomas emailed within the first few months post-launch and her journey to executing many successful pop-ups and in-store counters across a variety of the retailers’ Irish stores. Gráinne also talks about her hopes for the future, and unique plans to utilise Web3 technology to create the Grá Chocolates in-store experience globally via virtual innovations and the metaverse as well as the goal to reach customers across the pond in the USA & Canada, of which she receives many enquiries for.


When discussing the early stages of the business, and the piece of advice she wished she received, Gráinne imparts wisdom that will resonate with all budding entrepreneurs, “I was very lucky that I had a lot of inspirational people all around me giving me advice and I suppose I felt it very overwhelming at the time.…..What I would recommend to anybody in a similar position would be to take all of that advice on board. If you take it in and listen to it, not everything might be applicable to you. You might not end up using every bit of advice, but people have gone through similar experiences and all of that information and all of that knowledge will build up to provide you with an incredible amount of experience for the future because you should be learning every single day.  You should be embracing the new experiences, the new journey, the new into your own, but also really appreciate people who have gone through something similar”These messages, among many more, are heard throughout the thought-provoking podcast, which will leave listeners inspired from the very start.