To begin, tell us what inspired you to start Fruney.

We originally moved to New Zealand from Moscow, Russia at the beginning of 2018. My husband Andrei was studying for his third degree in strategic management at the University of Waikato and I was on maternity leave with my first Child Ella. After a year of thinking about what we wanted to achieve living in New Zealand, we decided to use our backgrounds and begin a food business! We chose the food industry because it presents challenges; it’s a new business area that brings new knowledge, new financial opportunities, and room for personal development.

It is also no secret that people are passionate about food – especially the gourmet kind. We started crafting fruit honey as this is a popular product in Russia - we quickly found out it was new within the New Zealand market and couple of months later we added chocolate to our range and got instant feedback from customers! I know that it seems obvious, but people love chocolate. We realised that chocolate making was an outlet for creativity, and we decided to concentrate on it…the rest is history.

You can taste the difference when it comes to Fruney Chocolate, what is your process when it comes to sourcing ingredients?

We make our chocolate at a certified home kitchen. It’s made to order so we don’t keep large amounts of stock lying around. We use only the best ingredients, high quality Belgium chocolate collets and freeze-dried fruits. For example, we use berries from companies such as Fresh As and Little Beauties, roasted hazelnut from South Island Hazelnut Company and coffee from our local roasters Manuka Brothers.

Can you run us through how a typical day making chocolate looks to you?

The working day starts at 8:30. At the beginning of the day Andrei will temper the chocolate, pour it into a mould, decorate it and package it once it has set. In the afternoon we pack for deliveries; if it is throughout the busy season like Christmas we will normally work until 1:00 – 3:00am in the morning!

Your chocolate bars look just as amazing as they taste, they really are a work of art! How do you decide on the flavours and design for each bar?

Oh, thank you! Milk Hazelnut is my personal favourite – I liken it to a margarita pizza, delicious and simple but hard to make properly. The other chocolate flavours come from using our imagination. A good example of this would be our Barberry Cranberry bar. For example, first you accidentally find some interesting ingredient; in this case it is the delicious and healthy Iranian Red Barberry. Then you mix it with other ingredients to find balance in taste.

From what we can see it seems like creating your chocolate is a process that involves your whole family, which must be a unique experience. What has it been like working so closely with those you love?

It isn’t easy, but it has been such a good experience to help improve our personal patience and responsibility. The positive side of it all is that we are almost always together and our children Ella and Leon (who are four and two) see mum and dad all the time at home.

For a lot of people, daily rituals are so important, and enjoying chocolate after a meal is popular choice for many. What are your daily rituals?

Coffee in the morning, sparkling water at lunch, and a herbal tea in the evening.

Gifting season is upon us, and we know that Fruney chocolate bars make an amazing Christmas present. If you could pick any products to give to a loved one, what would you choose?

I would definitely choose the Caramel and Cookies or Milk and Nuts!

Quick Fire Questions:

What is your favourite Fruney chocolate flavour?

My favourite is Milk Hazelnut, and Dark Almond Blueberries is Andrei’s favourite.

During the summer season, where do you like to visit the most?

We love going to Auckland and enjoying city life as we both miss it; we visit art exhibitions and love good restaurants – one of our favourites is Alma in Britomart. Another go-to spot for us is Raglan, which is just a 40-minute drive, we’ll stop and drink coffee and have empanadas at ISO bar and enjoy the empty beach on a working day!

Your go-to summer outfit is…

I love anything lightweight. I prefer mini linen dresses, shirts and shorts in a summer colour palette and Andrei prefers linen shirts, cotton t-shirts and shorts.