Home > Life > TMC Talks > TMC Talks To: Maya Simler Founder PLAYin CHOC

Let’s face it being a mum is a big enough job on its own. It’s a full time commitment with no pay and mad hours! So adding ANOTHER full time job to the mix is not only very impressive but also massively inspiring. We recently spoke to PLAYin CHOC, Founder Maya Simler to find out how she manages it all..

Explain what you do in a sentence?

I am the founder of PLAYin CHOC where we make delicious natural and organic chocolate for adults and kids – you may have seen us as we are sold in over 3000 stores globally!

How long have you done your job?

We recently celebrated our 4th birthday, but I started to develop the brand a year prior to that.

What’s the coolest thing about it?

For the kids.. definitely the collectable puzzle toys and fun facts cards you get with each ToyChoc box. For me.. I love that I have created a sustainable brand which is kind to the planet, plus kind to the body too. It is great reading all of the positive feedback from our customers, and feeling good about what our brand does and represents. It is also pretty cool that I have my whole family involved 🙂

What does your day or week entail?

When it’s your business you are working all kind of hours. As I work a lot on different aspects of the business (from design, to website, to managing the team), I try to maintain a healthy balance with my family and kids too. This does often see me at my laptop in the evenings, but it meant I was able to take time off in the afternoon to collect my kids from school or take them to activities.

Where did you start out?

Our story started in my kitchen in Highgate, London. I wanted to create delicious, dairy-free chocolate using only three simple plants; cacao, coconut and vanilla. After lots (and lots) of testing with my two chief tasters (Max, 9 and Seb, 11), I perfected PLAYin CHOC’s fairly traded, organic, single-origin Peruvian chocolate. The company grew and grew! Now we’re stocked in over 30 countries and have won 25 international awards.

What has been your biggest challenge?

We had a lot of challenges in the last 4 years! In the beginning it was learning to manufacture chocolate ourselves while keeping all our high standards as we couldn’t find anyone else to do it. We also had to figure out a recipe which was free-from the top 14 allergens, whilst creating a home compostable wrap as we are 100% plastic free company. We then had Brexit which complicated a lot of our European exports and THEN the pandemic that affected a lot of things as we saw the high street close and staff isolating! But we are getting over them one at the time and thriving as a business.

What piece of advice would you give to someone hoping to do the same? Something you’ve learnt that is crucial to either your job or to success:

Love and believe in what you do, and also you need to have patience and flexibility 🙂

How important is it to switch off?

Very! I learned this the hard way as I was overworking for a long time until I physically couldn’t do it anymore. Now I have learnt to balance my time and energy better and I am doing a few courses which helps me switch my mind to something else. It is good to have something other than work to enjoy.

How do you manage your work / life balance?

I try and do as much as possible when the kids are in school, and then I have some quality time with them. This then means I often work more in the evenings, but that I don’t mind. Weekend are always different but I manage to juggle some hours of work then as well.

How do manage mum guilt?

I also learnt that there is so much we can do and that we have to be kind to ourselves and not feel guilty. We all just do the best we can.

How did you get over the feeling of missing your baby when you went back to work? Best piece of advice you have every been given or would give?

I was lucky that I was always flexible with my work and I was present for my boys when they were babies. I just juggled my work time around their needs. I do feel for mums that have to go back to work very soon and I hope there will be more flexible work for mums available in the future.

Visit PLAYin CHOC here

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