WE GO BACK IN TIME TO 1920’S BELGIUM TO DISCOVER HOW THE TALENTED DRAPS FAMILY TURNED THEIR PASSION FOR CHOCOLATE INTO AN ENDURING GLOBAL BUSINESS
Today, Godiva is sold in over 100 countries around the world, from Europe and North America to the Middle East and Far East, and is an official chocolatier to the Royal Court of Belgium. Here, we explore the brand’s humble beginnings and the exceptional family that propelled it to success.
A Recipe for Success
The Draps family’s passion for chocolate was underpinned by a skill and expertise, which was honed through a tireless dedication to their art. Their dream was to bring beautiful Belgian chocolate not only to the people of Brussels, but to chocolate lovers around the world.
However, Godiva’s beginnings were humble; Pierre Draps Sr. began making pralinés out of his home kitchen, often calling upon his young family – Joseph, François, Pierre and Yvonne – to help. Many years later, Pierre Jr. described himself as being “born into chocolate”.
Word spread fast about the Draps family’s exquisite chocolates, and it wasn’t long before their handmade creations were being sold in Brussels’ most fashionable food shops.
After Pierre Sr. passed away in 1937, his children took over the business. With big plans for the future, Joseph focused on the financial side of the company, while his brother Pierre became Godiva’s creative mastermind. Following in his father’s footsteps as maître chocolatier, Pierre Jr. worked hard to refine his skills while dreaming up delicious new chocolate recipes
Inspired by a Legend
Few people know that the name ‘Godiva’ was not the brand’s original name – it was called ‘Draps’ after its founding family. The Draps family were inspired by the legend of Lady Godiva because of her strong values and a generous spirit. It was also said that Joseph’s wife Gaby, bore a striking resemblance to Lady Godiva, with her lustrous long blonde hair.
By 1948, Godiva was the name on everyone’s lips in the Belgian capital. Adored across the nation for its exquisite chocolates, the company had now grown into a team of 60, all experts in the art of roasting, blending, moulding, tempering and decorating. Godiva’s first pink delivery van also took to the streets that same year, allowing the Draps family to deliver its delicious creations all over the country.
Steps to Success
Fast-forward 10 years to 1958 and Godiva opened the doors to its first boutique abroad, nestled among the glamorous fashion stores of Rue St-Honoré in Paris. Another decade later, Godiva scooped its most prestigious honour yet when it was named an official chocolatier to the Royal Court of Belgium.
As the years went by, Godiva became recognised as a global ambassador for both Belgian gastronomy and exquisite chocolate craftsmanship. Joseph and Pierre Jr, along with their wives, Gaby and Eugénie, took the chocolatier from strength to strength through their tireless work and unparalleled passion. Eugénie was also the creative talent behind Godiva’s early packaging, using ribbons, bows and jewel-like presentations.
Godiva on the World Stage
After being purchased in 1966 by the Campbell Soup Company, Godiva went stateside, launching its debut US boutique in 1972. Joseph and Pierre Jr stood proudly outside the brand new Godiva shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City as its doors opened for the first time, while Eugénie and Gaby trained its salespeople and took charge of the striking theatrical displays.
1972 also marked Godiva’s debut in Asia with the opening of its first boutique in Tokyo, in the iconic Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi department store. Today, there is a legion of Godiva boutiques to be found across Asia, from Hong Kong and Singapore to Taiwan and Shanghai.