Above: Jordin Shelly, owner of Cocoa Africa.
Jordin Shelly chats to Katrine Anker-Nilssen about her passion for chocolate and making her dreams come true.
A proud KZN girl, born and raised in Durban along with two brothers, Jordin says: “I am very blessed to have such a supportive family who have always been rooting for me along my journey, long before my business was even an idea.”
After matriculating from Epworth, she moved on to Jackie Cameron School of Food and Wine in Hilton – completing the 18-month diploma in both hot kitchen and pastry. “I had the opportunity of spending six months in The Greenhouse kitchen in Cape Town, which at the time was a Top 5 Fine Dining Restaurant in South Africa,” explains Jordin. “And this lead me to start my chocolate journey.”
After spending a few years working in Cape Town and learning the art of chocolate, Jordin moved back home to start something of her own – and in 2020 Cocoa Africa was born. “It’s ironic, because I’ve always been interested in nutrition and thought this would be a line of work I would go into. But clearly that was not meant to happen, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Jordin’s passion for chocolate came from finding a way of taking something most people love, and improving it to make it look and taste like something they have never had before. “I love the artistic side I can add to my chocolates, all of them are hand-painted using different styles and techniques,” she says. “Innovation makes me tick; creating something new or improving something from boring to having a wow factor gives me so much joy.”
Her first sale was one of her proudest moments. “ I really felt like ‘wow, this is mine’, this is something I have dreamt of, created and now it’s tangible,” she says. “I have loved watching this business grow over the past year. It has challenged me, excited me, and stretched me. I’ve met amazing people through Cocoa Africa, and it has been really encouraging to see people get excited about it too.”
Cocoa Africa offers a selection of nine different flavoured bon-bons and three different slabs, each with their own unique design. “The chocolate I use is a very high-quality chocolate imported from Belgium, along with local and imported speciality flavours and ingredients. For me, it’s about achieving and delivering the highest quality product; an experience that is memorable.”
Jackie Cameron is one of Jordin’s biggest inspirations. “She’s a go-getter in business, she knows what she wants and takes the risk to achieve it. She taught me a very important life lesson: ‘if you are going to do something, do it properly’.
“Cocoa Africa is not just me, it is also my supporters, the people closest to me, the ones who encourage, help when I can’t do it alone, and support my decisions. I have a vision of growth for Cocoa Africa – and with this comes creating job opportunities, teaching and uplifting,” says Jordin, who besides chocolate enjoys being outdoors, exploring South Africa, finding new foodie spots and travelling. “Travelling has exposed me to different cultures and cuisines which in turn have influenced my love for food and flavours.”
FOR MORE INFO: www.cocoaafrica.com.