Michael & Wiktoria
Our goal is to bring to the world beautiful and delicious artisan vegan-friendly chocolates. Whilst minimising our carbon footprint and maximising contributions to the farming community.
Founded by Michael and Wiktoria, a true marketing wizz kid and a master stage and prop designer. The name Cheeky Nilla actually comes from their beloved family member, Vanilla the rabbit. Vanilla being more dog than a rabbit; adventurous, loyal, cuddly, and lovable. No better name for a vegan chocolate business, Cheeky Nilla.
Wiktoria (pronounced with a ‘V’) came to the UK in 2018 with her best friend Gosia. Completing her Master’s in stage, costumes, and prop design in 2019, she started her journey with chocolates after working with a Swiss master chocolatier based in Covent Garden. In the last three years, she’s also had the pleasure of working with some of the most talented production teams in the film and theatre industry. These include making props for Disney, Sponge Bob Musical, Totoro, Royal Shakespeare Company, Annabel’s, Hamley Toy Store, Selfridges, and many more.
What’s the best part of your job?
I love to make new and inspiring things, whether chocolate, puppets, or props. The magical and wonderful imaginations of Tim Burton and the world of Alice in Wonderland are my biggest inspirations. Our dream is to one day have shops around the world with creatures and props inside, as if stepping into a magical land, like Charlie and the chocolate factory, but with my designs, Oh that would be so wonderful!
What gets you up in the morning?
I love the sun, nothing is more satisfying than having the feeling of grass under your feet and the heat of the sun on your face.
Your favourite place on earth?
We’ve been so lucky to have spent several days at the NGO status Mondulkiri project elephant sanctuary in Cambodia. All the elephants there were bought or rented for the sole purpose so they can live at the sanctuary and be kept away from elephant rides and heavy farm work. It was a memorable experience, one of the best in my life so far, the funds are also used to protect the local wild elephants and support the local Bunong hill tribes with employment, medicine, and food donations. Without the funds, would use the elephants as they have been for hundreds of years, for farming, or for tourist rides.
Born in Silay City, Philippines, Michael first stepped into the UK when he was 8 years old. An artist and adventurer at heart, Michael first joined Scouts at 12 years old, fell in love with the movement, and has been a member for nearly 20 years. Having been a leader for almost 8 years, built one of the largest and most successful explorer scout units (14-18yr olds) in London. He is also an accredited Gold Duke of Edinborough Award assessor.
How did you start your business?
It was inspired by Wiktoria. While working in Covent Garden, she would bring back chocolates to share with family, unfortunately, I couldn’t have any as I’m lactose intolerant. So she started making some without dairy at home, they were so great that we had the idea we should make something of this as there were so few options for vegans apart from dark chocolates. Wiktoria was already vegan and I was transitioning at the time so it made perfect sense for us. I’d always wanted my own business, so we got working on it. We spent every day experimenting and tasting for a month, sending chocolates to friends and family asking for feedback. During this time I also worked on the brand and website.
What made you love Scouts?
I’ve always loved the outdoors, I feel more at home in a tent in the forest than in the city surrounded by concrete and buildings. I think it’s the freedom and survival skills that I fell in love with, there are so many pressures as a teenager but when I was in scouts, it seemed to all disappear, and learn how to be independent. I was also very lucky to have a very understanding and lax scout leader. I took a short break during University, thereafter, I became a voluntary Explorer Scout Leader for 14-18-year-olds. A difficult age, but I tried to provide a similar environment that I experienced and it proved very successful. Within 6 months, the group started with 2 members and grew to 35.
Any other goals in the future?
I promised myself one day, before I move to the next life, that I’ll have three of my paintings on show at the National Gallery. I love to paint, specifically oil with landscape and my adventures as my inspiration. That would be a dream come true.
Vanilla, a member of the family and more dog than a rabbit. Adopted at a very young age after being bullied for being the runt of the litter, he was adventurous, loyal, cuddly, and loveable. He would often follow us throughout the house, hops onto the sofa when we’re watching tv, and nuzzle up to us. Cheeky Nilla. for beautiful mesmerising crafted artisan vegan chocolates is a tribute to Vanilla, now hopping joyfully in rabbit heaven with friends.