23 Apr 2018
Who doesn’t love a cheeky little chocolate from time to time? We sure do, and we love them even more when they’re free from hidden nasties and come with an inspiring back story. Here’s the feel good tale behind Cheeky Cacao Artisan Chocolates and The Cheeky Project Perth.
Too busy to exercise? Too tired to cook a healthy, nutritious meal? Too stressed to take a much-needed lunch break at work? You’re not alone.
In 2012, Lee Ann was a high flying senior executive – one of the youngest WA’s public sector had ever seen – but her high-pressure corporate lifestyle was taking its toll. Working excruciatingly long hours, she was constantly exhausted and stressed and even started losing her hair. Her marriage was on the rocks and childhood health issues started reappearing. It was time to make some drastic changes.
Here’s how slowing down and smelling the roses… and listening to her body… led Lee Ann to a whole new lifestyle and satisfying business, The Cheeky Project Perth.
TBT: What’s the story behind your professional progression and the birth of The Cheeky Project?
LA: My background is in administration and strategic planning. I worked hard to establish my career in the private sector and then made the switch to the public sector. In 2012, I became one of the youngest senior executives in the public sector, which also happened to coincide with my separation (and eventual divorce) from my husband.
It was also around this time that my health started to decline. Issues that I hadn’t experienced since childhood began re-surfacing and my digestion suffered. I worked long hours and the role was high stress. I was constantly exhausted and a patch of my hair fell out. During this period that I delved into taking control of my health, and changed my diet and lifestyle. I started a blog, 1 Hungry Banana, to share my story, and as a place to share recipes and tips I’d learnt.
After three years I’d finally had enough. I made the decision to take a step back from my executive role and then my health really crashed. A holistic doctor diagnosed me with adrenal fatigue so, a year later when the opportunity to take a voluntary severance came up, I took it and starting focusing on turning my passion into a business.
TBT: What services does The Cheeky Project currently offer?
LA: Currently we have our blog, where you will find a collection of articles, recipes and interviews. It’s about sharing experiences and empowering people to take ownership of their health journey, no matter what stage they’re at. It’s about making healthy mean more, rather than feeling like you have to miss out.
The Cheeky Project is also the home of Cheeky Cacao Artisan Chocolates – melt-in-your-mouth treats made with no hidden nasties. They are luxurious hand-made chocolates that also happen to be free from gluten, dairy, soy and refined sugars and zero additives or preservatives.
TBT: What encouraged you to start making chocolates?
LA: The chocolates were something I started making for myself because I couldn’t find treats that I could have. They had to be both delicious AND fit my diet and lifestyle. I started making them and sharing them with family and friends, and they kept telling me I should be selling them. In the beginning, the blog and the chocolates were two separate concepts that I really wasn’t sure what to do with. Plus, I’d never run my own business before, so I signed up for Night School with The Perth Collective. I learnt so much about how to get started and it was actually Nikki (Milne – founder of The Perth Collective) who convinced me that combining the two ideas into one business was the way to go and so, The Cheeky Project was born.
TBT: Your chocolates taste incredible! What’s the secret?
LA: Thank you! I think the secret is carefully selecting good quality ingredients. All of the ingredients have to taste good in their own right. We combine and balance the flavours in a way that makes them even better together. We taste test each batch of our fillings and the test is, if it makes you go “yum!”, then we know it’s perfectly balanced. It has to taste good, without compromising our health.
The other secret is love – plenty of love. We hand-make all of our own fillings and hand temper, mould and fill all of our products, so each one is unique in its own way.
TBT: Who is The Cheeky Project’s typical client?
LA: Anyone who is interested in their own health and wellness, and anyone who loves delicious chocolate!
Part of the premise behind the Cheeky Project is that people don’t even realise they’re being healthy. We’re not in to putting labels on things and there’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’. We are all about sharing experiences, knowledge and eating yummy food.
TBT: How have your lifestyle changes improved your lifestyle?
LA: My adrenal fatigue was a blessing in disguise. It made me stop, sit up and pay attention. It forced me to take charge of my own health and make a meaningful change. Before my health started to decline, I would have considered myself relatively healthy, eating processed food, rarely exercising, surrounding myself and my house and body with chemicals and generally living a wasteful life. Looking back, there were signs my lifestyle was sustainable, my digestion was never right, I would get sleepy and achy. I did everything for everyone else but myself.
My health is still not perfect but knowledge is power and I do my best to give my body what it needs to function and heal. That means feeding it nourishing wholefoods, listening to my body when it needs movement and when it needs rest, and nurturing the soul. I certainly feel much better for it and I’ve learnt how to connect with, and listen to, what my body needs.
TBT: What lies in The Cheeky Project’s future?
LA: I have big plans for The Cheeky Project in the future – new products and services, maybe even a cookbook. Eventually, I would love to bring together health and wellness experts for retreats and events. But for now, the focus is on growing the blog and sharing our delicious chocolate with more people.
Do yourself a favour, and try Lee Ann’s delicious, guilt-free range of Cheeky Cacao Artisan Chocolates. The Black Truffle sells a range of bars and gift boxes starting from $10.