A HUSBAND and wife toffee-making team are hoping to lick the opposition after entering a Hartlepool Mail-backed competition.
Carole Earl, 51, and her husband Geoffrey, 38, have become the first town entrants in this year’s Local Business Accelerators contest.
The pair have run Sweet Niblets Confectionery from their home in the Clavering area of Hartlepool for 16 months and are already making their mark on the business scene – especially with their speciality of home-made toffees.
Their range includes strawberries and cream, treacle, liquorice, mint and banana as well as an Autumn and winter range with Bourbon, Irish Liqueur and Whisky Toffee.
They won the Best Product award at this year’s Inspire Network Award, held at Bede’s World in Jarrow.
Now they’re hoping for success in the LBA competition where the local winners will pick up free advertising in the Mail as well as mentoring from a panel of business experts in the town.
Carole opted for her own business after taking redundancy as a business advisor with Business Link in January 2011.
At first, she set up a jewellery business before deciding toffee-making was the way forward.
Geoffrey makes the product while Carole handles all other aspects of the business.
Carole told the Mail: “We had practically nothing when we set up, and the business is making a profit which is great.
“We are looking to move to the next phase of the business which would be to look for independent stockists and perhaps retailing online as well.
“We also want to look to build an effective website. I also think we might need to look at going into a unit and perhaps look at people coming to work for us.”
While the company’s core product is its toffee range, it also produces treats such as cashew nut crunch and peanut, pistachio and almond brittles.
Carole added: “We also make a small range of handmade truffles, chocolate and novelty chocolate items.”
Its main sale area is markets. Carole added: “We have covered well over 150 markets since our inception from tiny school fairs to Farmer’s Markets in Hartlepool; Northallerton; Middlesbrough, Richmond and Leyburn.
“We have attended several larger food festivals.”
When asked why she thought the firm would benefit from the LBA competition, Carole said: “We spend a lot of effort marketing our business through social media networks but feel that we don’t utilize our local press sufficiently.
“If 71 per cent of adults read a local newspaper then clearly we’re not penetrating this market place effectively.”
She said free advertising in the Mail “would alert more customers from our home town that artisan products are readily available in their area, allowing local money to remain in the local economy.”
Businesses aged between one and five years can enter the competition in the Hartlepool Mail and the Peterlee Star.
They can register via the LBA hub which can be found at www.accelerateme.co.uk. They must register before the closing date of Friday, November 16.