Italian-born entrepreneur, Lavinia Davolio, started her own luxury confection business, Lavolio, after being made redundant from her investment banking job.
Lavinia has always been driven and ambitious, continually pushing boundaries throughout her career. At just 27 she became the youngest director of a fast-paced investment bank in London. Not only did she break through age stereotypes, she flourished in a male-dominated industry despite being the only woman in a team of 36.
However, in 2013, following the financial crash, Lavinia was made redundant. Far from seeing this as a career setback, she took this as an opportunity to start her own business, building on her passion for food.
She retrained as a chef and launched her own range of Italian, artisan confectionery, Lavolio, which became an instant hit. The business grew rapidly and orders started coming in from all over the country.
Confectionary fit for Royals
Lavolio has a royal stamp of approval being served at Buckingham Palace. Lavinia was even personally invited to take her confections to the Palace. “It was very secretive, and I was only allowed into the delivery room, but it was very exciting!” she recalls.
Lavinia’s success comes down to her dedication to making luxurious and truly different chocolate by experimenting with a vast range of interesting textures and ingredients, including coffee, nuts, spices and real fruits. She didn’t stop there though. She made sure her chocolates were worthy of a queen from the inside out. Her innovative method of coating the treats in a sugar shell involves using a revolving copper barrel. This encases the treats with a beautiful, even finish which enhances the flavour and acts as a natural preservative.
She brings the same level of meticulous detail to the designer packaging, which is adorned with beautiful, floral patterns using iconic artwork from William Morris.
Lavinia initially sold her products on stalls and at food markets. From there they were rapidly picked up by Fortnum and Mason who became Lavolio’s first major stockist. Lavolio is now stocked in leading independent shops across the UK, with a boutique store in Fulham, South West London. Alongside her traditional retail success, Lavinia also has a large digital presence with around half of her sales being made online with the majority being through Amazon.
“Our online sales means we can afford to have a bricks-and-mortar shop, which is such a nice touch. It means we can personalise and gift wrap for our clients,” she says. Selling through Amazon also helped Lavolio to expand to be a worldwide business and the company now ships to 27 countries. Also, as the retailer handles much of the product distribution, Lavinia has more time to focus on business development and product development.
From the trading floor to storefront
Since launching Lavolio, Lavinia feels like her job is still just as fast-paced as her previous working environment. She applies many of those skills she built in the banking industry –learning to be compliant, articulate, and on time.
Lavinia has continuously developed her expertise. As a confectioner and entrepreneur, she had to learn a whole host of new skills on her own on the job. She says: “I now know how to cook, I’ve learned about health and food safety. I learn something new every day.”
Since launching Lavolio has had great success; it has had continuous organic growth and shows no sign of slowing down! The business is on track to turnover £1m this year, and Lavinia is looking at a different way to innovate its product portfolio. Lavinia is getting ready to launch her newest collection of vegan Lavolio confectionery.
Lavinia’s success shows no signs of slowing down as she is set to further solidify her presence in the confectionery sector with Lavolio.