Founder Maya Simler has been winning awards with her delicious and decadent vegan chocolate and planet-friendly toys that celebrate animals and the natural world.
‘I really hope that more people realise that we have to do the best we can for our environment and planet and try and preserve our stunning nature.’
– Maya Simler
Born in Belgrade when it was still the capitol of Yugoslavia, Maya lived with her family in Serbia, Iran and Russia. She then studied in the UK, Los Angeles and Sevilla.
Now living with her husband and two boys (aged 7 and 10), she calls London home.
As her second child turned two, she felt the urge to go back to work. But instead of following a traditional route, Maya decided to do something different. She took her background in design and her recent experiments in the kitchen and founded PLAYin CHOC.
She started with her love of chocolate. As you do. And then she added the remembered excitement of getting a new toy from her parents. From this platform, she created a product that was playful and delicious without having a negative effect on the planet or her family’s health.
The chocolate is made from only three ingredients – all sustainably grown and fairly sourced. The cacao beans that are gently roasted to bring out their flavour are grown on small family farms in Peru. The coconut cream and coconut sugar comes from Indonesia. It has all the natural sweetness you need, so Maya doesn’t add refined sugar to her chocolate. And the Madagascan bourbon vanilla is ground up to make vanilla powder.
Maya opened a dedicated factory in Uxbridge this summer and all her artisan chocolates are made in the UK.
Maya knew she didn’t want to contribute to plastic pollution. So the toys that come with the chocolates are made from 100% recycled, biodegradable card. The puzzle toys, which children assemble from several pieces of card, feature a diverse group of animals like orangutans, lemurs and dolphins. They’ve also just released a new set of dinosaur toys.
Her journey hasn’t been without its difficulties.
‘The two biggest challenges were how to make the toy as small as I wanted it to be and still work and look beautiful.
And the other one was trying to find a truly home compostable film for our chocolate that would still keep the chocolates sealed and fresh.’
–– Maya Simler
But the hard work and determination is paying off. They won their 8th industry award this year. Highlights include the World Food Innovation Awards 2019, Best Vegan Chocolate Awards 2019 and Great Taste 2018.
Her advice to those who may be wanting to make a difference in their own life, or for the planet?
‘It makes me happy to see more and more companies caring about their footprint and trying to be more sustainable.
Start by making small changes and then just do them one at a time, and the best you can, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.’
– Maya Simler
PLAYin CHOC has also released an advent calendar just in time for Christmas. There are 24 drawers containing the organic chocolate, a 3D puzzle toy and a fun fact card.