THE co-founder of the chocolate brand Green & Black's has told how her “biggest regret” is that she wasn’t able to use social media to launch it.

Jo Fairley told a Bournemouth audience how she and husband Craig Sams devised the organic chocolate brand in 1991 and set it on the way to becoming a £100million-a-year business.

Speaking to the Attention! digital marketing summit, organised by the Bournemouth marketing agency Adido, she recalled creating the UK’s first organic chocolate bar after her husband was sent a sample.

They devised the name in preference to suggestions like Eco-Choc and Organo-Choc.

“I went to the edge of the diving board and I dived off and I’ve never ever regretted it,” she told the audience at Bournemouth’s Hilton.

Ms Fairley, a former magazine journalist, invested £20,000 to get the business going and wrote press releases which were sent out with chocolate bars.

“We really believed that one square of chocolate was equal to 1,000 words and we very much built on that – but if you asked me what my biggest regret about Green & Black's is, it’s actually probably that we didn’t get to play with social media to launch it,” she said.

“I think we could have grown even faster if we had social media. Whether we could have coped with that, I don’t know.”

She said the business continued to give out samples, urging: “If you’ve got a great brand, give it away.”

She added: “Craig and I were just sure that if we wanted to eat dark chocolate, then lots of other people would feel the same way, even though we sat in front of lots of supermarket buyers who said British people will never eat chocolate that dark.”

The bars were the first 70 per cent dark chocolate in the UK and were boosted by the endorsements of chefs Delia Smith, Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Increasingly, recipes suggested using 70 per cent dark chocolate.

Green & Black's was also the first chocolate to carry the Fairtrade mark and was taken up by churches concerned about the developing world.

Ms Fairley said the brand was “cooler than Prada”, having been on a list compiled by CoolBrands for 11 years.

“Ultimately I think it’s the combination of a great product twinned with the design and underpinned by those strong values which is the real secret of how we’ve managed to stay on that cool brands list – despite the fact that you can buy a bar of Green & Black’s on a garage forecourt,” she said.

The business was sold in 2005 to Cadbury’s, which was in turn swallowed by the conglomerate Kraft. But Ms Fairley said the company had been able to influence its new owners from within, and she remains a “chocolate ambassador” for the brand.

After trying retirement for five months, she has established Judges Bakery, the Wellbeing Centre, the Perfume Society and the magazine Scented Letter.

Other speakers at Attention! included Adido’s Andy Headington and Tom Crewe, Rich Bradford of Wavemaker Global, Callum McCahon of Born Social, Mary Keane Dawson of TRUTH, Matt Desmier of Wise Old Uncle, Craig Pugsley of Studio Flow and Rob Murray of Runderwear, with workshops run by Mark Masters of the ID Group.