Catherine Hughes, Chief Toffee Officer
After a successful 30-year career as a real estate executive in San Francisco, Catherine Hughes knew the commercial real estate business inside and out. And “out” was exactly what she needed. Catherine had gone as far as she wanted to in the Real Estate profession and was ready to try something entirely new.
An excellent home chef, Catherine loved the way her cooking brought joy to her family and friends. She began looking for a way to parlay her culinary talents into a profession. Her godmother’s homemade Toffee seemed like the embodiment of Catherine’s three favorite things: cooking, family and tradition. After much urging from every friend who ever tried her toffee, Catherine realized she should start a candy company, using her godmother’s classic recipe.
Catherine shared her business idea with her closest friends, including cousin and best girlfriend Ellin Purdom, who grew up with Catherine in Piedmont, California. While Catherine tested butters and confectioners chocolate, and modified her godmother’s original recipe to include more chocolate and nuts, her enthusiastic friends provided help and support. Some lent a hand in the kitchen, others volunteered as tasters, cut ribbon or helped assemble packaging. Cousin Ellin came on board as Director of Social Networking. The confection would be called Toffee Talk, because it generated buzz whenever people shared it. When Ellin leveraged this “buzz” online, the results were immediate.
The orders have been flowing in since Toffee Talk’s inception in 2009.
Since winning Best of Show in the confection category at the 2010 Marin County Fair, Toffee Talk has garnered numerous local and national awards. The candy was featured in gift bags for guests at the 2010 Emmies, and Fortune 1000 companies keep Toffee Talk in their employee kitchens. News of Toffee Talk’s deliciousness seems to spread by word of mouth, from one happy set of taste buds to another. And Toffee Talk has become the success that Catherine knew it could be.
Ellin Purdom, Director of Social Networking
In the investment world, Ellin Purdom is known to her clients as a Director of Client Services. But Ellin is also Catherine Hughes’ cousin and best friend. The two women grew up together in Piedmont and share memories of enjoying Catherine’s godmother’s hand-made toffee on holidays and special occasions. Ellin now lives in Marin County, California, and she and Catherine talk often, preferably over toffee. Not surprisingly, Ellin found the notion of publicizing Toffee Talk as irresistible as the candy itself.
Thirty years experience in the investment advisory business have turned Ellin into a networker extraordinaire. She has deep roots in the Bay Area and loves meeting new people and helping them connect with others. Not surprisingly, Ellin has developed a passion for, and a great expertise in, marketing through social media.
As Toffee Talk’s Director of Social Networking, Ellin uses Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and Google Plus to get the word out about Toffee Talk. Her efforts have gotten Toffee Talk featured in influential foodie blogs and on the Daily Grommet, One Kings Lane and Daily Gourmet online marketplaces. And whether she’s wearing her financial hat or her marketing one, Ellin chooses Toffee Talk for all her business gifts.