It is a rare occurrence that a childhood dream is made into reality, which is why we want to bring attention to the no-frills chocolate shop, Bon Bon Bon. Founded by Alexandra Clark in 2013, she brought her high school dream to life in her hometown of Detroit. These chocolates are made without all the ribbons, lace, or ruffly paper cups; just good chocolate for good people. Three years after she founded Bon Bon Bon, Alexandra was selected as one of Forbes magazine's "30 under 30" in the Food and Drink category. Read our interview with Alexandra, and learn more about what makes her a confectionary badass.
What did you want to be when you were in high school?
When I was in high school I wanted to own a sweets shop. I still have the business plan that I made for one of my classes. It was called "Alexandra's"...original AF.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
I spent eight years from the time that I decided I wanted to open a chocolate shop learning from jobs, research posts and schools. Every step of the way, no matter how off course it appeared at the time, helped me hone in on exactly what Bon Bon Bon was going to look like. Often it was the strong "not like that" that was most impactful on the business plan as it evolved.
Has the idea changed over time of what you want your business to look like?
How Bon Bon Bon looks changes often - and that's kind of the point. We are set up to allow everyone, not just me, to contribute their creativity. This even extends as far as our customers and vendors! That said, good people deserve good chocolate, and always will. So, although it evolves, our mission is undying.
Do you remember the moment you decided to go for it? What was that like?
When I signed my lease, I was still living in Boston. I worked at a high end chocolate shop on Beacon Street and the only other Detroiter I knew in Boston was the dude who worked in the back at the butcher down the street. We barely knew each other, but I ran to his shop almost in tears and he just hugged and squeezed me - the whole shop was trying to figure out what was going on!
What was something crazy you did to achieve your business goal?
I was adamant that I didn't want to ask my parents for money to help open my business, but I ended up having to ask my mom to bring change for the drawer because the day we opened, between my business and my personal self, I had $7 to my name. I couldn't even make change if someone paid for a Bon with a ten dollar bill!
Are there any businesses or business owners you looked up to as you were developing your business?
I admire Sean Askinosie with every ounce of my midwestern chocolate loving heart. This guy is the real deal and shares my dedication to high quality product and high quality relationships. And, through it all, he has remained curious.
What is the best part of owning your own business? What's the worst part?
I choose who I want to work with, and I love that. I am so lucky to get to call some of the most interesting, sincere, talented people I've met, part of my team. The worst part is how little I sleep, hands down, written at 2:24am.
How did being a woman help and/or hinder your drive to create your business?
Did you know that the only sport that women are naturally physically better able to perform at than men is long distance swimming? My mom and I both love long distance swimming and I often think of it as a metaphor for business. You are on a mission to get from point A to point B. And like in long distance swimming where the sway of our hips, the extra body fat and (I like to think) the patience that women naturally have contributes to superior performance, the same is true in business. Often the assumption is made that being a woman puts us at some sort of disadvantage, but I don't see it that way. I bring perspective, open-mindedness, contagious enthusiasm and instinct. That, along with a brain like anyone else's and a body that makes it very easy, in a male-dominated industry, to pick out who is pure scum, unworthy of my business, give me advantages that most men would envy.
To learn more about Bon Bon Bon, you can visit www.bonbonbon.com