With a shared passion for supporting local communities and utilizing high-quality ingredients, chocolatier Alexandra Clark of Bon Bon Bon and Lisa Ludwinski, pastry chef and owner of Sister Pie, talk building businesses with purpose.
Alexandra Clark: Having worked in a lot of different cities with competitive industries, what makes the Detroit food scene unique?
Lisa Ludwinski: I approached Sister Pie feeling really burnt out on the idea of competition while living in New York. One of the things that attracted me to Detroit was the clear sense of collaboration — that there wasn’t just collaboration between food businesses, but between people who wanted to help small businesses. That sense of welcoming and friendliness really contributes to the growth of this collaborative scene.
AC: How has national acclaim changed things?
LL: We’ve started to rethink how we can be this small neighborhood bakery with a national voice. We feel motivated by our triple-bottom-line mission: planet, people, profit. We’re not just thinking, “What is the least expensive way to do this?” We’re thinking, “What is the least expensive way but also the best for the employees and the most environmentally friendly?” By putting people alongside profit, you’re building a more sustainable environment. It has opened up a lot of good conversations that need to happen in our country about the food industry.
AC: Can you talk about what’s in the future for you and for Sister Pie?
LL: We know that we’re going to have people at a new location. It’s going to have a breakfast and lunch café, a little grocery section where we’ll sell products from around here, in addition to our own stuff. It’s also going to have a couple of classroom spaces. The space will be a kind of Sister Pie headquarters, but also a hub to continue with that community collective collaboration. It feels like that allows us to prepare for whatever collaboration is next.
—As told to Carmen Nesbitt