Women building their own businesses and lives in Craft Chocolate Part 3: Susan Brown
My own curiosity for what makes a sustainable craft chocolate business (across the supply chain) and my dream chocolate shop have inspired me to profile some of the #womeninchocolate and their entrepreneurial journeys. This is part three of the series with Susan Brown.
Here are the interview questions:
Why did you choose to start a business in craft chocolate?
What is your “mojo” that keeps you going?
What does success look like for you?
What is your vision for the future of craft chocolate?
What chocolate best describes you?
A woman after my own heart. Susan Brown, founder of Mademoiselle Miel, and I “met” in NYC at a chocolate tasting and pairing event she did a few years ago, but we didn’t really get to talk one-on-one. It wasn’t until the 2018 #womeninchocolate Mujeres Milagros retreat in New Mexico that I learned what an extraordinary woman and creative she is. A health-conscious woman of many talents (a re-occurring theme in this blog series) she is a beekeeper, artist (listen to the Well Tempered episode to learn more on this) and unique bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Her honey filled bon-bons decorated with gold leaf were a refreshing discovery for me in a world of chocolate bars wrapped in expensive packaging. Mademoiselle Miel now also consists of maple sugar chocolate bars (I’m a big fan of the tahini bar), delicious honey hot cocoa bomb (which I gifted to a few of my chocolate friends it’s so good!) and seasonal delicacies. I hope to visit her chocolate shop in St. Paul in the near future. Enjoy her response to my interview questions.
Susan Brown founder of Mademoiselle Miel and Queen Bee-keeper
I didn't really choose craft chocolate, seems like it chose me! I started my food journey in honey but I guess all things lead to chocolate eventually! Mademoiselle Miel started with one product, Honey Bon-bons...a 100% chocolate shell (made by an Italian maker) with a creamy honey filling. It wasn't long before I started experimenting with variations on that simple combo. I felt that some variations on the chocolate shell would really open up the flavor possibilities. One of my employees had been living in Peru and had been making chocolate there. With her assistance we starting making maple-sweetened 70% and, of course, I was hooked! I chose to use maple sugar because maple trees grow here, and is a beneficial and delicious sweetener like honey.
Nature inspires me. I try to spend time outside every single day. I'm also impacted by the people around me. I associate with those who are funny, musical, generous, smart, determined, forgiving, passionate, adventurous, etc...all qualities that increase in me with their influence. I work hard and my job is my life so it has to include emotions and connections.
I feel successful when I see that what we do at Mademoiselle Miel is valued by our community. Whether they be customers, special interest groups, other makers, etc. positive feedback is essential to success for me. I try to remember to support others as well!
Here in the midwest there's a lot of educating to do. It would be good to have a collective of makers in the area and create a place for people to learn about chocolate - it's origin, history, the process from farm to bar, etc. We need these "museums" around the country to help people shift expectations about chocolate. Whenever we can create a need for more sustainable and ethical practices in chocolate, food, or anything for that matter, then we're all better for it.
5. Chocolate me?
Well I would say I'm. "like a box of chocolate, you never know what you're going to get".Right now I'm wearing patent leather high heel pumps, I might be wearing flowered clogs by evening. I need change. I am change.