Jun 28, 2017 8:00:00 AM
Leading Lady Spotlight: Alexandra Clark

I had the pleasure of meeting Alexandra Clark a few months ago at a ladies dinner. Her kindness yet tenacious personality is contagious and I was truly inspired by her professional journey. Read the interview below and find out how she came up with the concept of Bon Bon Bon Chocolate and what keeps her going. 

- Rachel Schostak 

{SS}: How did you get started in the “Chocolate Businesses”?  

{AC}: Really, it all begins with my grandpa, I just didn’t know it at the time! He used to show up to holidays with boxes of chocolates that we would all crowd around like predators over prey. You learned pretty quick what the “forking” on each piece meant - so that you ended up with the coconut or nuts instead of the maple cream. It wasn’t until I was kind of lost, nineteen and in Amsterdam when it hit me as a medium. The moment I started to think of chocolate the way I think of crayons, it became this sort-of 3D way to express myself and communicate and play with other people. I was hooked and spent the next eight years trying to learn everything I possibly could about my newfound love. I started asking questions, writing letters, going to pastry schools, graduate schools, agricultural institutes, tiny chocolate shops, working midnight shifts in factories, on farms, doing anything and everything I could until, eventually, people couldn’t answer my questions anymore. Sure “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get” but why does it have to be like that? Aren’t we the chocolatiers? Can’t we just label the chocolates? Why does the packaging always cost more than the actual chocolate? Don’t people like chocolate? Or do they really like fancy boxes. It just seems wrong! And that’s not even delving further into the larger agricultural challenges that our industry faces. I couldn’t test these questions and my hypotheses at anyone else’s company, I had to go out on my own. So I moved home, found a shop across from my best friend’s grandpa’s house, and started Bon Bon Bon.

{SS}: Tell us about your typical day.

{AC}: The only consistent thing in my life is my morning walk with my dog! Otherwise, I am a bit of a junkie when it comes to my business. I can’t stop. I love it - whether it’s getting in a little early to clear emails so I can be more present throughout my day or if it’s stopping by a friend’s shop for a field trip with our team, The Babes Babes Babes, to learn more about farming, source new product, or just shoot the shit. Even when I’m relaxing, sometimes an idea for a bon will come to mind and next thing you know we’re in a text frenzy with jokes and methods, and ideas.

{SS}: What do you love about your job?

{AC}: My employees. They astound me every day. I mean, we also get to work with some of the best ingredients in the world and the people who harvest and make them - so that’s pretty cool, too! But, end of the day, the thing that makes Bon Bon Bon so Bon is this super diverse, eclectic group of people and the ideas we can generate and execute together.

{SS}: Any advice to those starting out in your profession?

{AC}: Take your time. Rush nothing! Once you have the idea, I think that there is a natural sense of immediacy that you feel to make it real but the time you spend honing your craft and brand will be invaluable once you get going.

{SS}: What is your go-to chocolate? 

{AC}: At Bon Bon Bon, probably the Olive Oil and salt but we also have a High Biscuits one (Hibiscus jam, candied crumpet, hemp seeds, and milk crumb) that is killer.

{SS}: What would you tell your 23 year old self?

{AC}: Honestly? I was in this taxi cab accident that broke a bunch of bones in my face when I was 21 and at 23 I would still smile a tiny little smile so people “wouldn’t notice”. I remember rolling my eyes at my dad when he told me that I didn’t look ugly, I looked like a pretty girl who had her face smashed in, so I should just own it! I thought he was so full of shit! Turns out, he was totally right. I look at those pictures now and I know how much those feelings impacted my life. If i had the chance, I would pop in to let my 23 year old self know to smile a big, careless and toothless smile, because her dad is totally right.

{SS}: Where do you, personally, get your daily news fix?

{AC}: NPR

{SS}: What do you do to make you feel beautiful, confident and ready to take on anything?

{AC}: I run - more for my mental health and beauty than anything. I think setting up a challenge and meeting it daily makes the challenges of the day seem that much more approachable. To this day, if I am stressed and call my mom, she’ll ask “did you go for a run yet?” and usually after I do, I don’t remember why I needed to call. And I’ll admit, in a pinch, a spray tan and some great vintage find can carry me through a weekend.

{SS}: Who is your Style Icon?

{AC}: Tavi Gevinson

{SS}: Where do you find style + fashion inspiration?

{AC}: Usually on Instagram, I also love NYLON and any great vintage shop.

{SS}: What is your power song? 

{AC}: As a young, cutesy, female, small business owner, I find a quick listen to “Don’t Fuck with My Money” by Penguin Prison and a couple of power poses to be pretty effective before gettig out to play with the big dogs.

{SS}: What is your power outfit or accessory?

{AC}: So my grandma saved up a pile of money to divorce my grandpa and when she decided to stay with him instead, she took the money and bought a japanese freshwater pearl ring instead. I wear it all the time. It’s the kind of thing you would wear naked and feel like a million bucks in.

{SS}: Who inspires you and why?

{AC}: My employees. Seriously, these girls are amazing. Between the personal and professional accomplishments that they have pulled off, on top of what we have been able to achieve as a team, I am in constant awe.

{SS}: What are YOUR “words to live by” OR favorite saying/quote?

{AC}: This quote has been on my wall for the last five or ten years - I read it almost every day while I make tea.  

“If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire.You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is.”

{SS}: LOCAL LOVE LIST: Share some of your favorite local spots around Detroit. 

{AC}: I adore Nora, Batch Brewing, Vault of Midnight, Tekla Vintage, Rose’s Fine Foods, El Dorodo (pictured below), Bumbo’s, and most importantly of all, the beach at Belle Isle!

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Leading Lady
Alexandra Clark
Bon Bon Bon
chocolate
ElDorado
Detroit

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