Meet the Addison Sisters: Makers of Ghana’s Finest Artisinal Chocolates
It is well known in Ghana’s history books that Tetteh Quarshie brought cocoa to the Golden Coast of West Africa from the Spanish colony of Fernando Po in the 1870s. Since then, Ghana has not only been known as a gold mining nation, but also a cocoa growing nation. Now, let’s face the fact – the chocolates that this nation has produced in years past have not been able to raise the status of the nation from merely being a cocoa growing nation to a chocolate making nation, and the reasons remain debatable.
In this interview, we hear the story of two Pan-African sisters who are on a journey to place Ghana on the world’s chocolate making map. Let’s dive in.
How was growing up like for the Addison sisters?
Kimberly: It was great. We are a family of seven. Five kids in total, so it was a lot of fun growing up with a group of siblings!
Where are the other siblings? Are they guys or ladies?
Kimberly: We have two older brothers and an older sister and they are all living in different parts of the States— New York, Michigan and Indiana.
Priscilla: We led a very international life growing up. Kim and I grew up in Dakar, Senegal. We also lived in Geneva, Switzerland before moving to Ghana two years ago. We are Ghanaian but have never lived in Ghana till now.
So you both speak French?
[The two sisters concurrently responded “Oui” with smiles on their faces.]
Kimberly: Fun fact! We watched “Friends” in French before we ever watched it in English.
You mean the TV series?
Kimberly: Yes! 🙂
Priscilla: And we both love that sitcom.
Kimberly: Their voices sounded so weird to us in English.
Priscilla: We could watch it for hours on end.
Interesting! Where did the passion for chocolate come from?
Kimberly: It actually found us.
Priscilla: Well, Kim has always been a lover of chocolate.
Kimberly: I’ve always loved chocolates, yes, but I never thought I would find myself making them. I was working in Switzerland, in an Administrative Assistant job and knew that I had in fact wanted to build something and work with my hands and not necessarily have to be at a computer all day. So when I knew that our dad would be retiring and our parents’ move back to Ghana was nearing, I made a pact to resign and start something. I had no clue what that would be.The resignation came sooner than later and I was doing my last tours of Switzerland when I visited a chocolate factory and saw they were using Ghanaian cocoa.
That sparked the interest because, I found it hard to understand how Switzerland could not grow cocoa and yet be known as the chocolate nation of the world, whereas Ghana has cocoa in abundance and isn’t known for chocolates. The rest is Pris and I embarking on a journey of learning and understanding what it takes to make chocolate.
Priscilla: Yup! And I remember Kim telling me it would be like going to culinary school, so I agreed. I had always wanted to go to culinary school but never did make time to go.
How was the process of learning like? Was it tough and challenging in any way? Or your chocolate passion eased all the pain away?
Kimberly: (Laughs) It was hard in every way. Chocolate is easy to eat and enjoy, but can be labor intensive to make. But it was fun as well. We took workshops, online courses, and apprenticeships. It was a lot of trial and error. It took two years of learning before we actually made our first batch.
Tell us about the idea behind your brand, ’57 Chocolate.
Priscilla: ‘57 is short for 1957, the year Ghana got its independence from colonial rule. For us, it’s not only about the chocolate, but adding value to resources right here at home.
It amazes us that Switzerland, Belgium and the United States are known for their chocolate when they don’t grow cocoa. We want to inspire the youth to make and create something of their own.
So ‘57 Chocolate is hoping to make Ghana known for chocolate, right?
Priscilla: Yes, and to inspire this re-awakening of making and creating something of our own like we did post-colonial rule.
Kimberly: We want to show that there are, can be, and will be made-in-Ghana and Africa goods at large that are of excellent quality.
Priscilla: Precisely! The youth should know that if we can do this, so can they. The youth of Africa ought to begin writing their own narrative, showing the rest of the world that we can make and create goods and products the world will be interested in buying and investing in!
Kimberly: Exactly! We should be exporting amazing products, and not importing items made with our own raw resources.
Impressive!!! I’m proud of you two. I believe you are already inspiring many young people, considering the fact that you recently won the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program (TEEP) award for Manufacturing. How does that feel?
Kimberly: It feels amazing. Honestly, God has been so good to us in the opportunities and doors he has opened for us and continues to open for us. TEEP has been a great learning platform and a great platform for exposure.
Behind every success, there definitely are some challenges. What has been your toughest moment as a team on this ’57 journey?
Kimberly: Hmmm… It may differ for each of us though. Pris?
Priscilla: Well, moving to Ghana and not being completely familiar with the business climate was definitely one of our biggest challenges. We had to network, have conversations with people, learn and make mistakes. We are still learning in fact.
Kimberly: Yes. We had to learn Ghana’s context.
Priscilla: They say know your customer. We believe that is important, but knowing the business climate is equally as important.
Kimberly: And we are still learning, and adapting.
I’m confident you sisters are going to make it.
Priscilla & Kimberly: Thank you!
Speaking of returning to Ghana, what piece of advice or word of encouragement do you have for anyone reading this who is a Ghanaian in the diaspora considering returning to Ghana to pursue a nation-changing dream? Or perhaps a continent-changing dream?
Kimberly: Persevere, and endure. There will be many times when you will ask yourself if it’s worth the headache and heartache, because the road will have lots of hurdles, roadblocks and collapsed bridges (laughs). But, don’t give up! And always be prepared to think outside the box for solutions to problems and challenges you will encounter.
Are there any special plans in mind, considering this year marks 60 years of independence? 60 years since 1957?
Priscilla: Yes for sure! We are hoping to come up with a signature flavor that all of our customers can enjoy celebrating Ghana’s upcoming 60th anniversary of independence.
What about long-term? Do you mind making some of your goals public? What should we be expecting from 57 chocolates in 7 years?
Priscilla: We hope to be a company that is known worldwide and ships worldwide.
Kimberly: Bigger and Better!
Priscilla: Exactly Kim
Kimberly: And have factories across cocoa growing nations on the continent, and a Willy Wonka style factory here in the +233. But I may have surpassed seven years. But hey, anything is possible!
Yes! Anything is possible!! Now, let’s get to knowing the sisters a bit on the fun side. I have some questions for your NO GRAY ZONE. Are you ready?
Kimberly: Sounds good!
David Tamsey: Cooking or Baking?
Kimberly: Oooh! Caking?
David Tamsey: (Laughs) No creative combinations permitted. You’ll have to settle for just one.
Kimberly: (Laughs) I’ll go with cooking but I love my desserts and baked goods.
Priscilla: Baking! Definitely. You don’t have to tend to it like cooking. You put the magic in the pan and let it do the rest in the oven.
David Tamsey: Favorite language to speak. French or English?
Priscilla: Hands down!
Kimberly: Yes. The expressions, the elegance… French all the way.
David Tamsey: Earrings or Nose rings?
Priscilla: Earrings for me. But I rarely wear them. I prefer big statement necklaces.
Kimberly: I’ve had both, but now I only have earrings. My favorite accessory are earrings. Definitely!
David Tamsey: Dogs or cats?
Kimberly: Dogs. Cats think they own you. Dogs are loyal.
Priscilla: Dogs all the way. I think a wolf is my spirit animal. (laughs)
David Tamsey: High heels or flat shoes?
Kimberly: Flats! No ankle breaking for me. (laughs)
Priscilla: I love shoes in general.
Kimberly: She does!
Priscilla: When I was a little girl, I got my first pair and wanted to wear them to bed. I didn’t want to take them off. (laughs)
Kimberly: Shoes are her earrings.
Now to some random questions and some questions about favorites.
David Tamsey: Best/favourite time of the year.
Kimberly: It depends on where I am. States = Fall.
Kimberly: Ghana = Dry season or Harmattan. The sunrises are amazing.
Priscilla: Same here!
David Tamsey: Favourite chocolate flavour.
Priscilla: Green tea
Kimberly: Dark chocolate
David Tamsey: Who’s the bigger chocolate eater?
Priscilla: It was Kim but I think it’s me now. (laughs)
Kimberly: I think it’s changed. (nods her head)
Kimberly: It was me now it’s her.
David Tamsey: Now, I know you sisters have traveled the world. How about Ghana, have you explored the nation?
Kimberly: Not as much as I’ve wanted to. There are definitely other regions I’d love to see and explore in the near future!
Priscilla: I’ve been to nine out of ten regions.
David Tamsey: Bravo!!!
David Tamsey: Which locations are on your list, Kimberly?
Kimberly: I’d love to go to the Volta and Takoradi!
David Tamsey: Make-up or No Make-up?
Kimberly: On a regular day, no make up. If it’s a jazzy event, I love lipstick!
Priscilla: Eyeliner. I rarely wear makeup.
David Tamsey: Smoothie or Fruit Juice?
Kimberly: Smoothies! Priscilla makes the best smoothies!
Priscilla: Smoothies!!! I don’t drink fruit juice unless it’s freshly made. And thanks Kim, on the smoothies compliment.
David Tamsey: Thank you both. I’ve really enjoyed this interview. Hoping to have more in the future as your company grows.
Kimberly: Thank you too! This was awesome. But wait a minute – one last thing. What’s your favourite kind of chocolate?
David Tamsey: Me?
Kimberly: Yes you.
David Tamsey: Vanilla Chocolate. I like it when cream meets brown. (laughs)
Kimberly: Good to know. (laughs)
Keep up with the ’57 Sisters
Facebook: 57 Chocolate
Priscilla: Also, we are looking for contributors to our current campaign ’57 Things We Love About Ghana’ So if anyone is a writer out there, we want to publish their work.
Kimberly: Tamsey said he would be one!!
David Tamsey: I’m in. I’ll contribute.
Priscilla: This was fun!
David Tamsey: De rien