SIRPLUS: In Conversation with Bobbie Garbutt founder of L'Esterre Chocolate

We’re all about connecting with founders who inspire us, which is why we loved chatting to Bobbie. Raised in Grenada, she now oversees her family’s cocoa business, L'Esterre Chocolate

Inheriting the legacy from her grandfather, Bobbie ensures that the chocolate she makes in her Cotswolds studio comes from cocoa grown on her family’s farm in Grenada.

“Ironically I dreaded visits to the family cocoa farm growing up. Every Sunday my parents, sisters and I would visit my grandmother at the farm for a curry lunch. The windy hour-long journey through the rainforest always made me feel car sick,” Bobbie recalls. 

“The smell of the fermenting cocoa stank, so I never spent too much time there. I just didn’t really understand why our cocoa farm looked like a messy forest instead of neat rows and singular crops I’d seen on TV and in books.” 

That all changed when Bobbie moved to the UK, appreciating the 70 acres of biodiverse flora and fauna on the farm. “The messy forest that housed our cocoa trees was actually regenerative agriculture at work; a way of growing that echoes nature’s mechanisms. Now my life’s work is to ensure this beautiful messiness continues, and I strangely love the smell of fermenting cocoa these days – it’s been quite the turnaround!” 

Perspective is a helpful thing, and Bobbie of all people can see that. 

“I didn’t appreciate it at the time that we really were sitting on gold, it was just a matter of progressing the farm to the present day and sharing its beauty with the world but staying true to its roots,” she explains. 

“Within the family, there was no one whose full focus was on the farm. In my early twenties, I was trying to figure all sorts of ways to modernise the farm; from building cabins to farm tours, even exporting spices. But I realised very quickly it was one too many ventures to juggle and I needed to just stick with one and do it well. 

There were a growing number of chocolate makers on the island and I happened to befriend one of them over the pandemic. They showed me the ropes of chocolate making and we made the very first batch of L’Esterre chocolate together. From the very first taste I knew I had to pursue it.”

Her own piece of (completely invaluable) advice when it comes to running your own business? “Focus on one thing and become an expert in it: I failed fast and learned a lot of lessons from it that brought me to where I am now. Designing your business around your life is always a good idea, too, because there was one time where I was punishing myself, working a remote full-time job and learning cocoa, living a strange half life split between Grenada and the UK. It’s taken me three years to get the balance right but I’m so glad that I finally did.” 

SIRPLUS Navy Wool  Cashmere Chore Jacket
SIRPLUS Navy Wool  Chore Jacket

And for someone who has a background in fashion, Bobbie knows a thing or two about staying comfortable as well as chic, saying “warmth and comfort definitely preside over anything else for me, living in a cold cottage in the countryside. I find myself wearing a uniform of chunky knitted roll neck jumpers paired with jeans or fitted trousers. All of which are in neutral shades and no patterns so I can wear them over and over again without anyone noticing!” 

Bobbie is seen wearing:

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