Alessandra Rodriguez, Marketing Manager of Bon Bon Bon, talks us through this amazing little Detroit-based chocolate factory and all the magical wonders that are found within.
Our Founder and Head Chocolatier, Alexandra Clark is not your average “chef”. By nineteen, she had cultivated an intense passion that morphed into a professional desire to contribute “goodness” to the industry. Her curiosity took her to Michigan State University where she studied Hospitality Business & Food Processing Technology.
After receiving her chocolate certificate from The French Pastry School of Chicago, she left the country on a full-ride scholarship to New Zealand’s prestigious Massey University to complete a degree in Agricultural Commerce and continue her research on value chains in the cocoa and chocolate industry with USAID’s Partnerships for Food Industry Development (PFID).
She returned to study at Ecole Chocolat as well as under Master Pastry Chef, Joe Decker, and Master Chef Jeff Gabriel at Schoolcraft College. So all this to say, though Alexandra is a classically trained chocolatier, she found her home within Bon Bon Bon and was able to use those magnificent french techniques that she had learned and has used the chocolate she makes, as a vehicle for her creative expression and passion for her Detroit community.
Sometimes that means we put Detroit’s favorite potato chips in a handmade chocolate shell with hand-painted gold on top. That is what it means to use “French technique with Detroit Ingenuity”.
Anywhere and everywhere! Seriously! Flavor combinations and ideas don’t just start and end with me, but instead, they come from literally anything and anyone. Inspiration can come from an employee recounting a story about what they ate over the weekend, someone’s grandma’s secret brownie recipe, or sometimes a customer will write to us a strongly worded email saying why they think a pineapple coconut and rum Bon needs to exist.
When we say “anywhere” we really mean it – it can even be just a beautiful color combination or wallpaper that we see somewhere that sparks an idea. It might be one of the most fun parts about working here – no matter what your role is at this company, you truly do play an important role in putting out good chocolate for good people.
Though there’s a lot that separates us from other chocolatiers, there’s also a lot that makes us super similar to some! And to us, that’s a great thing! We want there to be more good chocolate and chocolatiers out in the world that follow similar core values as we do and we want other people to know about it.
Whether these other chocolate businesses have sustainable packaging or source their cacao responsibly, it’s important to us that we support those other chocolatiers in their efforts to make the chocolate industry better. Some chocolate shops that we admire and respect include Grocer’s Daughter, Mindo, Dwaar Chocolate, and Askinosie to name a few.
The one thing, however, that I think does separate us from most is how “weird” we are. Not just our product, but everything about us! We’re not really a “color within the lines” kinda chocolate company – which is really fun because we kinda get to do whatever we want (most other chocolatiers wouldn’t dare to do or try).
So if we want to mix white chocolate with hot Cheetos, we can and we do! Or if we think there’s value in keeping super-secret under-the-counter chocolate for people who’re having noticeably bad days, we will!
We source our chocolate from farmers in Ecuador and Colombia! To us, it’s really important that we do right by everyone down the value chain of the chocolate process – the families and farmers that grow and harvest the cacao, the co-ops that help mediate the process, the delivery drivers that transport the product, our employees and of course, our customers.
It’s really important that we make our absolute best effort to help the communities in those regions create sustainable businesses for themselves and for their families instead of contributing to perpetual bad chocolate practices like child slavery and unfair wages. To do so, we end up paying a higher price for our chocolate so that it trickles down to help everyone along the value chain more than it would if we didn’t pay a premium.
In addition to making sure we take care of our people, we also like to do our part for the environment. All of our packaging is 100% curbside recyclable with the exception of a tiny rubber Bon Band that we encourage you to “reuse” in some clever way.
Unlike other chocolate companies, we build each box to fit the exact amount of chocolates that are within it. This helps us use up every bit of packaging materials that we order so that we never waste material. Even our ice packs are inscribed to try to encourage our customers to try to use them for their own repurpose! Doing the right thing is very important to us.
You can find us Bon-line at www.bonbonbon.com . We ship all across the US and even internationally! We also have two brick-and-mortar locations – our Midtown Detroit shop is located at 441 W. Canfield St Detroit, MI 48201, and our Ann Arbor shop is inside the historic Nickel’s Arcade directly across the University of Michigan at 5 Nickels Arcade Ann Arbor, 48104.
Our shops are open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday 11 am to 7 pm and Sundays 12 pm to 6 pm. If you want to stay in the loop on all things #BON, give @bonbonbonchocolate a follow on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, or wherever else you like to hang!
So much lies ahead for us! To us, it feels like we’re just getting started. We’re currently working on ramping up a wholesale program, fine-tuning some customization options that people can opt-in on, maybe some retail locations, and a whole lot more! We’re really excited to kick it into third gear so that more people out there can get the “goodest” chocolate they can.