Meet the Toxteth-based chocolate maker behind Tocky Chocky
1 month ago
When chocolate maker Becky Birtwistle launched her business from her kitchen in Liverpool 8 she decided to name it in tribute to her adopted home.
But it wasn’t long before Toxteth Chocolate found its own cheeky identity – Tocky Chocky.
Now five years on from first creating treats for friends and family, Tocky Chocky has become Becky’s full-time job, and artisan chocolates carrying the brand are sent around the UK and worldwide.
“The name just emerged naturally and it captured something so it stuck,” says Becky. “It’s obviously a bit tongue in cheek, but I think that was one of the things people liked because Liverpool is all about a sense of humour and not taking things too seriously.
“It’s so clearly associated to Liverpool, and to Toxteth where we live, and that’s what I always wanted, to create a well-loved, well-known Liverpool brand.”
Becky was in PR and marketing when she moved to Liverpool from London with her boyfriend who’s a Scouser.
But working with Halle Orchestra in Manchester and commuting each day meant she never properly got to know the city.
“Tocky Chocky was a way of me feeling more a part of Liverpool and feeling at home here,” she explains.
“At the beginning, I had a part-time job at Unity Theatre and I was doing markets with Tocky Chocky at weekends. Covid was the time I jumped from working another job to just doing Tocky Chocky, and that was what I needed to give me a bit of a kick into doing it full-time.
“My background is design and I started working in marketing departments in a design capacity so you’re creative but you’re always working to a brief, it’s not your vision. One of the nice things with Tocky Chocky is that it’s mine, so I can have that vision whatever it is and get to see it fulfilled.”
Since setting up the business, 36-year-old Becky’s had two babies – a daughter who’s now three and another just over one year old.
As it’s grown, she now makes her chocolates from a commercial kitchen, although she still experiments with flavours and designs at home.
“I went off on maternity leave for a while and that Christmas, before I had the baby in January, we made over 2,000 boxes from our home kitchen!” she recalls.
Using her marketing background, Becky started a Tocky Chocky Instagram account and now has orders for her posh chocs coming in from across the UK and further afield.
“I think because they’re so colourful and so visual, Instagram has definitely been the platform that works best for me,” she says. “I get messages asking to chocolates from all over the country and I send customer orders abroad because there’s a really nice market for people who’ve grown up in Toxteth and maybe moved to Australia, or Dubai.”
Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are Becky’s busiest times, when she can be making up to 600 individual chocolates a day.
She’s always coming up with new flavour combinations and likes to collaborate with other local businesses to create something unique. One of her most recent used Liverpool Lost Dock rum in a caramel filling.
“There are so many other food producers doing interesting things so it’s a way of feeling part of that community and supporting one another,” she adds.
Tocky Chocky is currently sold through the Toxteth Chocolate website and stocked in Delifonseca, Skaus on Allerton Road and MerseyMade, but Becky’s long-term plan is to find the right premises to open a shop.
“My career before was very sociable, so I definitely think the way it’ll go is taking on staff here, then if I found the perfect place, maybe around Granby, that would really inspire me to have a little shop.
“My idea is for it to be somewhere you can just get a coffee and some chocolates.
“In the UK the culture around chocolates is more that people reserve them for a special occasion, like a birthday or anniversary gift. In France and other places you might go for coffee and have a couple of chocolates on the side – I’d really like to try and nurture that kind of culture in Liverpool.”