Iceland-based Omnom Chocolate had only been exporting its products to the US for a few years when movie star Zac Efron dropped by to film a segment for his Netflix show, Down to Earth with Zac Efron. When the episode featuring the company finally aired this summer, it practically squeezed the company dry. In this Q&A, Omnom’s co-founder Kjartan Gíslason explains to Inverse how his company was able to deal with the surge and subsequently improve its operations.
Tell me what your company does.
We are Omnom, an award-winning small-batch, handcrafted, artisanal chocolate maker based in Reykjavík, Iceland. We produce small-batch, “bean-to-bar” chocolate using cacao beans sourced from around the world. We challenge the understanding of bean-to-bar chocolate production and the way flavors and textures can creatively expand the business. Our mission is to make the best chocolate possible using the highest-quality ingredients. Each one — single-origin cocoa beans from Madagascar, Tanzania, Peru, and Nicaragua; organic sugar cane; natural Icelandic milk powder — is individually sourced with care, placing ethics, sustainability, and transparency at the heart of the process.
At what point did you scale up, and what did that growth look like?
We began scaling up in 2014, when we started exporting our craft chocolate to the US. It has been a slow but escalating buildup for a while now, and in the past two years we’ve seen a sustainable rise. In 2016, we moved to a new production space and that scaled up our production capacity dramatically — which really helped us both domestically and internationally. The rise of tourism in Iceland over the past few years has also changed a lot for us.