Having been a talented chef from the age of 15, Stuart had always dreamed of starting his own business, but the opportunity had never really presented itself until he developed a rare visual condition.
In July 2015, Stuart was registered blind after being diagnosed with, Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON). There are only 100 people in the UK affected with this condition which over time, affects the vision in both eyes with severe loss of sharpness and colour, and central vision, which is required for detailed tasks such as reading, driving, and recognising faces.
As the condition made it hard for Stuart to continue working, he rediscovered his love for making chocolate. This gave him the drive and ambition to follow his passion and to start his own business.
Stuart has based his new business, Lake District Chocolate at Staveley where he hand makes and sells his luxury Belgium chocolates. He also intends to supply hotels, Christmas Markets and businesses in the wedding sector with his delicious chocolate delights which are beautifully decorated through spray painting or marbling. Popular flavours include White Chocolate and Jellybeans, White Chocolate and Rhubarb and Dark Chocolate and Salted Caramel.
Stuart hasn’t let his visual disability get in the way of his business startup plans, he has easily adopted new ways of working and adapted to doing things differently. The main challenges have centered around the design and flow of the new kitchen and computer work such as product labelling, but a great kitchen fitter and use of technology have help him overcome these.
The Cumbria Business Growth Hub are working with Stuart to help him develop a new website to promote his business. This website will be accessible to people with visual impairment