Coco Cat Bakery and Chocolates does not have the traditional origin story that most small businesses have. Starting as a stall at the Granville Farmer’s Market, Todd and Melissa Camp sold baked goods, and a small selection of chocolates, under the name “Go Cat Bakery.” This effort was largely focused on supporting Melissa’s passion for her community’s free-roaming and feral cat population. During their time at the farmer’s market, they created what has become their signature product: The Coco Bar. This is a fudge-like confection with flavors such as French Tarragon, Jamaican Curry, and Moroccan – rich with ingredients including cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, clove, black and white pepper.
As popularity of the Coco Bar grew, the Camps decided to shift their emphasis to the chocolate side of the business and rebranded as Coco Cat Bakery and Chocolates. Based on the amazing reputation they had built at the farmer’s market; Coco Cat had the opportunity to do “pop-up” shops at the North Market in Downtown Columbus.
After numerous successful pop-ups, Coco Cat Bakery and Chocolates was offered the chance to occupy a permanent stall at the Market. This rare opportunity is only offered to the very best local food producers and restaurants and required the Camps to significantly increase their production capabilities. It was then that they discovered ECDI. ECDI helped them plan for the new opportunity and provided financing for the equipment needed to build out the new space.
While the permanent presence at The North Market allowed Coco Cat to continue to share their products with an entirely new customer base, it also allowed Melissa to share her advocacy for “Trap, Neuter, Release” (TNR) programs with an entirely new community.
“We are able to talk to people from all across the globe about the importance of caring for community cats and in turn help support more local groups that promote TNR,” says Melissa.
Through the growth that the North Market opportunity has provided, Coco Cat remains committed to its social enterprise roots.
“A portion of our proceeds are donated to local organizations who provide TNR services to the Central Ohio community,” says Melissa.
Based on the amazing reception that Coco Cat has received at The North Market, they are planning on expand their product assortment by adding a new commercial oven this fall. This will allow them to bring back some of the baked goods from the early days of their business, including fruit-filled pastries and coffee cakes for the breakfast crowd. Throughout the day, they will be baking seasonal breads, cookies and kid-friendly cupcakes in addition to offering their amazing handmade chocolate treats.
“The autumn season marks a shift to flavors featuring warm spices and hardy herbs.” Melissa shared with excitement. “With the addition of our new oven we will bring back our farmer’s market customer favorites such as our butternut squash pound cake with apple cider sage glaze, the dark chocolate black raspberry beet brownie, chocolate zucchini clove cake and the mega moist apple cake with caramel rum sauce.”
In addition to the new seasonal and upcoming holiday flavors, Coco Cat also plans on expanding their product assortment to meet the needs of the local community by offering unique products not found elsewhere. This includes introducing a line of single-origin vegan chocolate bars with a variety of cocoa percentages.
They will also be offering kid-friendly treats through Coco Kiddy, a line of confection treats created by the Camp’s 11-year old son, which currently includes Lego bricks with jelly beans, magic gummy wands, cookie pops and unicorn horns. Plans are in the works to expand the Coco Kiddy line with new items such as edible slime, a chocolate puzzle and chocolate robots.
The upcoming expansion of The North Market to add a second location in Bridge Park marks an exciting time for the chocolatier and bakery. It will allow them to share their tasty treats, and passion for helping the local feline population, by casting a wider net that will help secure more funding for spay and neuter programs for feral and free-roaming cats.
“We have a deep belief that together, as a community, we can end the homeless cat epidemic,” Melissa says.
For more information, visit cococatbakery.com.
This mutli-part sponsored series highlighting ECDI’s work in Columbus is presented with paid support by ECDI.
Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through its one-stop shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they’re in. From providing capital to entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, to providing focused, business-specific educational opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI works with their clients to meet their unique needs. Whether assisting a new client with a business concept or an accomplished entrepreneur opening a fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed over twelve thousand entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services it provides. Visit ecdi.org today to learn more.