Simon and Aimee Godsiff’s boutique brand’s name was inspired by their grandparents.
When Simon Godsiff was 10, he caught and sold fish to neighbours and rented golf clubs to holidaymakers near his family’s Marlborough farm. His older sister Aimee would sell tours of the eel pond.
“Our farm was pretty remote, so we had to entertain ourselves,” says Aimee, 38. “Plus, our parents always had a few different businesses going, which rubbed off on us.”
The siblings often tossed around the idea of working together, but couldn’t quite settle on one product. First though, there was a successful cinematography career for Simon, 35, including seven years at Weta Workshop, and various admin roles for Aimee.
Then, in 2017, Simon had a lightbulb moment after reading an article about bean-to-bar chocolate. “Chocolate ticked all our value boxes: it’s responsible, sustainable and ethical. People increasingly want to know where their food comes from and that’s important to us too.”
What followed was two years of intense research, importing cacao beans, sampling chocolate from all over the globe and watching YouTube videos, all tucked around their day jobs. At the time, Amy was living in Christchurch and Simon, who was making the small-batch boutique chocolate, was in Wellington, so there were lots of late-night phone calls.
“It wasn’t easy and we had a few disasters, but we launched our chocolate company, Shirl & Moss, in 2019 and quickly found success with retailers and wholesalers across New Zealand, such as Moore Wilson’s in Wellington.”
Today, their range features five flavours, including espresso and fig dark chocolate, as well as a hazelnut, orange and sea salt bar. Simon is the chief maker, flying to their Auckland factory at least once a month, usually when his cinematography work takes him there. Aimee manages the sales and distribution from Blenheim, where she’s raising her one-year-old son Joe.
“Being in different cities isn’t an issue since we talk every day,” Aimee says. “And because we’re so close, we totally trust each other to just get on and do it.”
It helps, she adds, that Simon is the “calmest and most collected person I know”.
“With family, you can be honest and open about everything,” says Simon. “We’ve both got a strong personal and emotional connection to the company and we’re totally committed to making it work.”
While they’re both shareholders of the business, Aimee is happy to call Simon the boss. “We make decisions together, but I don’t mind taking more of a back seat.”
Their wider family also helps out when needed, packing and distributing the chocolate during busy times.
As for the name Shirl & Moss? That also has a strong family connection.
“They’re the names of our maternal grandparents, who live in Nelson and love our chocolate!”