With all due respect to Forrest Gump, Alexandra Clark has a bone to pick with the catchphrase.
When Clark opened her chocolate business, Bon Bon Bon, in Detroit during the summer of 2014, she did so not because it was a passion and a lifelong dream (though it was) and not because so many people had told her it would never work that she was intent on proving them wrong (though they had, and she did). For Clark, opening the Motor City’s first artisan chocolate shop in 40 years boiled down to a desire to break confectionery dogma that no longer made any sense.
“Why keep using the same recipe for cream fillings if nobody eats them? We even have that phrase, ‘life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get,’” she says. “It’s like hi, how about we just label our chocolate? How hard is this?”
Clark makes it seem easy. The 29-year-old landed on the Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016, less than two full years after first opening up shop. She’s since purchased a 5,000-sq foot factory, expanded Bon Bon Bon to a second retail location, launched nationwide shipping and even teamed up with Shake Shack on a custom shake for the chain’s inaugural Detroit location.
It helps that, rather than serve as a hindrance, the tenets which formed the foundation of her business — there should be no such thing as “nasty” chocolate, packaging should cost less than the chocolate itself, “bons” should be labeled and customers should be able to walk in and buy any number of “bons” they wish, even a single serving — have differentiated Clark from the Jacques Torres and Max Brenners of the world.
Which isn’t to say that Bon Bon Bon doesn’t match the quality of those other chocolatiers. It does, many times over. Clark imports chocolate from Peru and Ecuador and other cocoa capitals. She then mixes in hyper-local ingredients from nearby farmers in Michigan, and the result is an array of sweets that ranges from the conventional (like…