When sisters Katerina Stavropoulos and Tina Angelidis started their chocolate business in the kitchen of their Sydney home back in the late ’90s, they never expected it to be the success it is today.
Tina, 51, vividly remembers putting an end to her science degree at Sydney University to pursue a dream her parents weren’t too fond of – opening a handmade chocolate company – Adora Handmade Chocolates.
The then 21-year-old also managed to get her sister on-board.
“Katerina (34 at the time) will tell you I ‘conned’ her into it, but I merely ‘urged’ her,” Tina said while laughing.
“Mum cried for weeks thinking I was throwing my other dream of studying away.”
But fast-forward 30 years, the sisters are now turning over a $4 million business, proving the risk and hard work was all worth it.
“I was studying at university and had just got married. I was also meant to do a masters in nutrition and dietetics, so food has always been a big deal for me,” Tina told news.com.au.
“But I decided to leave uni, start a family and focus on building a home business with my sister. Kat had three kids at the time and was a social worker so she knew what it was like going back and forth to work and raising a family.”
The pair wanted to create an income that allowed them to work from home and while Kat was hesitant at first, their love for chocolate made the decision easy.
“Mum would actually have to hide it from me in cupboards, that’s how much I loved chocolate,” Tina joked.
With a lot of trial and error, the pair went on to launch Adora from their home kitchens.
“From day one we have used only good quality chocolate – Callebaut. The quality is the highest in terms of commercial use,” Tina said.
There were hours upon hours where the sisters would vigorously taste-test their delectables harnessed by their vision of creating inspiring chocolate recipes.
More often than not, each of these tasty treats were given to visitors and with an unstoppable desire to succeed they landed their first big deal – supplying the Bennelong Opera House.
“When that happened, the business really picked up and we moved out of the home kitchen after four years, and into a store in Earlwood (in Sydney’s south).” At that time, the pair were only wholesaling to co-operate companies and doing weddings, until they decided to take a leap and open to the public, selling coffee and chocolate out of the new store.
“It was very hard because no one knew who we were but serving the chocolates with coffee was our big point of difference,” Tina said.
“Customers then started buying the chocolates in boxes.”
The demand for their handmade sweets then saw them open a store in Sydney’s CBD in 2006.
“At the time, there were only international chocolates available in the city – nothing local,” Tina said.
“We had always complained about the lack of Australian-made chocolates in the city, so to be able to change that was huge.
“It also opened the door to a whole new market. We started selling to corporate businesses in the area and providing petit fours to boardrooms. We were expanding so fast.”
Adora has since expanded to seven locations across Sydney and now includes a line of cakes, gelato, confectionery and special high teas.
But Tina, a mother-of-two, and Katerina, a mother-of-six, said it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of their parents, who are also small business owners. She said they would step in to look after the kids when the sisters would work 50-hour weeks.
“We would never take work home with us – that was a big thing for my sister and I,” Tina said. “We were both always on the same page with ‘family first’.” When asked about how they got on working together, Tina said: “Having a 13-year age gap she would always get the last say,” Tina laughed. “But we have such a strong bond. People often comment on our relationship.”
In celebration of their 30-year anniversary the sisters have relaunched their Original Ten collection which was the first product released to the public.
It’s also the first products they hustled to sell doorknocking from business to business.
“We wanted to keep the recipes the same since they are the flavours our customers have enjoyed over the years. But the updated look gives them a modern twist,” Tina said.
Little did they know it would be the catalyst for their success, with the business turning over $4 million already in 2023.
If you were to ask Tina if she ever thought it would be such a hit, she will simply say “absolutely not”.
“I remember having a consultant a few years back asking us what we are going to do when we outgrow our store in Earlwood. And I was like ‘no chance that will happen’.”
But now the duo have opened stores in Newtown, Parramatta, Oatley, Croydon, Sydney CBD and Quay Quater Lanes also in the city.
At the heart of their business, their inspiration delves from their Greek background – with the word “Adora” a Greek term for “a gift”.
And in celebration of their 30-year anniversary, the sisters want to give back to the community by hosting a giveaway that includes a return trip for two to their motherland, Greece.