Smart Cookie: Jeanette Macko, Founder of Planet Cocoa - Ecobuy

1)  Could you tell us a little about yourself and what’s your business about?

I am a trained pastry chef with my most recent full time job as a head pastry chef at a catering company. When Coronavirus shut down the economy and especially impacted the hospitality industry with the company I worked for shutting down until the foreseeable future, I found myself with time on my hands. Time I previously did not have to grow the idea I had in Planet Cocoa for the past 2 years. Planet Cocoa is a vegan chocolate online shop with a big focus on supporting the people behind the ingredients used; whether that be ethically sourced chocolate or supporting Australian makers and producers. Our other large focus is on eco-friendly packaging.

2)      Do you have a morning routine? If so, what is it you do to set yourself up for the day ahead?

Due to Covid, nothing really seems normal and every day has its own rhythm just due to this rollercoaster we’re in. Something I cannot get to 12PM without is coffee, make it strong and with roasted almond & oat milk please. I found myself making the same breakfast every day for the past few months being stuck at home (yes, avocado on toast) so lately I have been trying to change it up a bit daily. When the sun is shining, I love to pick a spot to sit and bask in, sometimes to read and sometimes to just sit and be still.

3)      Why did you choose to go sustainable and eco-friendly?

It was a no-brainer for me as I’m passionate about my effect on the environment and think producers should be the ones responsible in first creating an environmentally sustainable product if it will be packaged. A lot of consumers do not have access to composting just yet so I also wanted to ensure anyone could recycle easily and responsibly (referring to compostable/biodegradable and even redcycle packaging on the market at the moment and not everyone can compost, but almost everyone has access to recycling). Never introducing plastic into the packaging equation makes it easier for us moving forward compared with places who have been using plastic and don’t want to weigh up alternatives due to cost and time. Planet Cocoa may be small at this stage but I believe we’re a small drop that impacts eco-friendly printing companies, packaging manufacturers and will also become more available in the future to meet demand.

4)      What was the hardest part of starting your own business?

Everything takes so much time! Launching a business alongside 2020’s biggest hurdle, Coronavirus, also meant delayed responses from manufacturers, packaging companies, delivery couriers, anyone really I had an enquiry about. It has now become normal and I will be pleasantly surprised to hear from someone within the week.

5)     One book and/or documentary everyone should read/watch? Why?

I am currently finishing Rotten and can’t rave enough about the content because a lot of people are so removed and so unaware where produce comes from and what the big picture is when you buy a cheaper, imported product over local. If you are pressed for time, just watch the one relevant to the cacao industry. I also have recommended this movie documentary more than I can remember: The Biggest Little Farm. Although it follows the story of an American farm, it makes you fall in love with the local organic producer and ultimately with the earth, nature and fauna a little more.

6)       Best piece of advice you have ever received?

One of my former bosses who actually taught me everything I know about working with chocolate encouraged me to “not be afraid to look outside of your postcode” in terms of finding a new full time job 6 years ago, which lead me to moving interstate to Melbourne. It also was in the same conversation that they didn’t have a full time role for me at that stage, so surprisingly instead of feeling deflated about not staying there I felt motivated to search interstate job listings.