Who doesn’t love chocolate? We certainly do (!) which is why we were so excited to sit down with Harry Specters, master chocolatiers and one of our wonderful Friends of Joules. We chatted all things chocolate and learnt so much about their work too as they are dedicated to crafting the most delicious chocolates that also create employment for young people with autism.
Are you sitting comfortably? Time to tuck in!
We moved to the UK from Pakistan almost 15 years ago along with our son who is on the autistic spectrum. We were worrying about what would happen once he left the safe environment of his special needs school when, during a family holiday to Scotland in 2012, inspiration hit! Chocolate has always been a life-long passion of ours so starting a chocolate business felt like a no-brainer and a great opportunity to provide employment and experience for others on the autistic spectrum too, not just our son. A few years later and we’re still here! Our son continues to help at the Harry Specters chocolate factory and the business is doing really well.
Our business is built on harnessing and celebrating the skills that autistic people have and it’s so rewarding seeing our chocolatiers feel a personal sense of achievement and a love for the product they have created. A neurodiverse workforce has so many positive qualities- sustained concentration and precision to name just two – essential for luxury chocolate production. We realised we could combine our passion and skills as chocolatiers with making a positive change to young autistic adults too. This will always continue to inspire our brand.
Our staff make great chocolates (well they must do as they’ve won several prestigious awards proving that they taste and look amazing)! We don’t use anything artificial and all fresh ingredients are locally sourced where we can. We also like to draw on our Asian background and passion for all things culinary when it comes to experimenting with flavours.
Harry Specters is an inclusive social enterprise which employs and empowers young autistic adults to create and package luxury artisan chocolates. We realise that the unemployment figures for autistic adults are unfortunately extremely high. Most of those autistic adults out of work are willing to have a job and really want to contribute to society.
Working as chocolatiers at Harry Specters enables them to do this, it increases confidence through work experience placements and provides paid employment.
Last year we produced over 238,832 delicious chocolates – that’s a chocolate for every person in Cambridge, our home town!
There’s probably not a single event but we’re really proud of all of the awards received for the chocolates along with the business awards we’ve received for our social enterprise. They’re a testament to all the hard work of our amazingly talented staff and we are so proud of what our autistic workforce achieves on a daily basis.
We feel the Joules brand offers some amazingly beautiful gifts made with love and care. We always felt our chocolates would compliment the other products offered and we love the ethos of the company.
Our business has a community feel and we frequently refer to it as our extended family. Joules has a similar feeling to this with all of the Friends of Joules working together to achieve their own personal goals – we love it!
We’re currently working closely with other businesses and organisations to help them improve their corporate social responsibility agenda and we hope to carry on empowering and helping many more autistic adults. The dream is to one day be able to employ hundreds of young adults with autism all across the country.
It would definitely be the House Selection. It has a great range of luxury filled chocolates and there’s something in it for everyone: popular favourites, unique decadent flavours and our award-winning Rose & Cardamom and Raspberry & Elderflower chocolates.
Thank you so much Harry Specters for telling us all about your chocolates! We’ll certainly be tucking into them this Christmas (after we’ve sat admiring how pretty they are that is)!
Have we got your taste buds tingling? Head over to our website to shop Harry Specters’ delicious boxes in all their yummy glory.