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Q & A: Craig Sams and Jo Fairley, founders of Green & Black's Chocolate

1st October 2008

Craig Sams and Jo Fairley on starting up an ethical business, iPhones and how best to enjoy a square of chocolate

What book or film would you recommend to all politicians?

The Future of Food (2004), directed by Deborah Koons Garcia. It cuts through all the crap about genetic engineering and shows clearly how it is the last thrash of a failed agricultural technology from an agribusiness industry that has lied, cheated and bribed its way into control of
our food supply.

What keeps you awake at night?

In season, foxes mating at the top of the garden. The rest of the time, the desperate incompetence and lack of political will to do something about global warming.

What/who makes you most happy?

Jo: Craig.
Craig: Jo.

What is your favourite meal? Made by whom?

Craig: I love Jo's tofu, marinated overnight in masses of tamari soy sauce and grated ginger, and baked.

Jo: I love Craig's tuna fish pie (using Fish 4 Ever tuna only). We both had a fabulous meal when we joined Kylie Kwong for dinner at her
amazing organic Chinese restaurant (Billy Kwong) in Sydney - one course after another of organic, sustainably harvested and
unbelievably delicious food.

What is the greatest compliment you've ever received?

Craig: When I visited my grandparents' ancestral village I met my grandfather's sister, who grabbed my sleeve as I got on the bus to
leave and commented: ‘Please don't go. If you stayed here nobody would ever grow old'.

How do you define success?

Sleeping well, no fatigue, good appetite, good memory, good humour.

What advice or words of wisdom would you give someone just starting an ‘ethical' business?

Three things: cash flow, cash flow, cash flow.The best ideas and the most profitable ideas can founder if you can't pay your bills. Always
make sure that the business model ensures there is enough money to lubricate the wheels of trade.

Can you describe a typical work day?

We both get up at about 6am and work for an hour or so. The papers arrive and we settle down with a pot of tea and read them, either
in bed or in the garden. Jo may go off to yoga at 8am; I either
take a walk or go to my Pilates studio at some point in the morning. At
lunchtime in the summer we may walk down to the beach for a swim.

Mostly, however, we work quite hard - there's so much going on. I work on my smallholding or woods for about one day a fortnight, and that helps keep me grounded and sane, and to work up a good sweat. We both have days in London or Bristol (roles at the Soil Association), but we keep certain tasks such as writing or reading for the train journey,
knowing it's an hour and a half of undisturbed concentration.

If your house was on fire, what one thing would you most certainly save?

Our iPhones! They should be called Lifephones, in fact - they have all our favourite music, important photographs and everything we'd need to start again.

What is the best way to enjoy Green & Black's?

Break off a piece, pinch your nose, pop it into your mouth, chew it until it's broken up, press it against the roof of your mouth and then let go of your nose. The flavours will hit you all at once and you really appreciate the complexity and smoothness that reflects the near-perfect fermentation practices of the farmers who have been supplying us for the past 15 years.


Craig Sams and Jo Fairley are the authors of Sweet Dreams: The Story of Green & Blacks (Random House Business, £14.99)

 

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