INDUSTRY: FOOD SERVICES
BUSINESS: BON BON BON
YEAR FOUNDED: 2014
PROGRAM: 2016 EMERGING LEADERS DETROIT
“When I think about employing Detroiters, that’s something that I feel very strongly about. I’m an artist really but in order to sell my art I have to hire people . . . I could not be prouder of anything other than employing people.”
Bon Bon Bon was founded in 2014 by Alexandra Clark. Alex describes her chocolatier space as both studio and science lab. She emphasizes the artistic freedom the space provides for the company’s chocolate makers. Each brick-and- mortar retail location is designed with an open-kitchen layout, removing any wall between the customer and chocolate maker. “We demystify the chocolate-making process.” Over two short years, Bon Bon Bon is riding a wave of success: Recently named on Forbes’ list of 30 Under 30, the company has already expanded to three locations in the Detroit area, including a pop-up operation that brings her signature chocolate to restaurants throughout the country.
The explosion and speed of her business’s growth came with its own set of challenges. “We were growing so rapidly… I didn’t expect to grow like this.” She was looking for a chance to slow down, take stock, and “put her feet on the ground.” These concerns led Alex to enroll in the U.S. Small Business Association’s Emerging Leaders program.
A lot of what Alex learned in the program was self-affirming: “It just made me more confident with some of the things that I find myself having to discuss and really think about on a daily basis.” Alex learned how to better organize and manage her growth. “It’s helped us continue to develop systems and I think developing systems has been our biggest challenge in terms of growth.”
Thanks to her success, Alex is enjoying new fame in her hometown of Detroit. “If we didn’t love it here and we didn’t feel the love of each other, then we would have left when things got hard.”