We Are Upstate NY With Emily and Pierre–Founders of EJ Bonbons
When something good comes to town, everyone starts talking. Since EJ Bon Bons launched in 2021, locals and urban visitors are still talking and raving about this artisanal chocolate shop. EJ Bonbons was founded by Emily Kellogg and Pierre Pouplard, two talented chefs who met while working at Per Se, a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in New York City. After several years, Emily and Pierre moved upstate to Emily’s hometown of Woodstock NY to open their first boutique shop and share their unique creations with the world. Their covered bonbons are sublime and their store is a must-visit destination. Let’s learn more about how they got their start and some of their favorite places in upstate New York.
INSIDE+OUT: Where are you originally from and how did you wind up in the Hudson Valley? Woodstock specifically?
Emily Kellog: I was born and raised in Woodstock. Pierre is from France. We met while working at Per Se in New York. When Covid shut everything down we came back upstate.
What inspired you to go into the confections business? Tell us about your journey.
I went to school for baking and pastry and have loved baking since childhood. My first job as a teen was at Nana’s in Woodstock when it was still Lori’s. I fell in love with making chocolate while at Per Se. It was something that constantly challenged me to be better. With the Covid lockdown, we started to think more about our future and how to support ourselves. The chocolate shop had a serendipitous start. We didn’t plan to open it so soon. Originally, we were thinking we would wait a few years; but then, a Woodstock weekend visit at my mom’s started everything in motion.
How do you decide which flavors to add to your collection? What trends are you seeing?
Our main rule on flavors: we only make ones that we like. I think working with flavors you don’t enjoy acts as a roadblock to truly developing the taste of something because it already has a disadvantage.
Are there renowned chocolatiers that you admire or that have inspired your work?
That’s a hard one. There are so many. I’m a big fan of Christopher Elbow and Kate Weiser because I’ve watched how they started and grew their businesses.
What is most challenging about the work you do, if anything?
It is just the two of us here daily. We have an amazing support system we can call to help when needed. But it can be overwhelming at times trying to manage everything and not disappoint customers.
What is the sweetest thing about your work (aside from the obvious!)
We get to bring our son to work with us every day. He is three and a half months old so being able to bring him to work is something we don’t take for granted. We know many people don’t have that opportunity.
What is one question you’re constantly asked or the biggest misconception about your work?
I think a lot of people assume the shop is owned by someone else or a larger company. With the exception of some family friends who help us when we’re in a pinch it’s just the two of us.
How do you grow your business? Do you leverage social media to get work and how is that working for you?
Social media and word of mouth. We try to advertise and promote our business online. Social media is a lot of work but we do what we can to get the word out. Social media has been good for our business.
What is it about the Hudson Valley that makes it unique to live + work here?
There really is a sense of connection and support for the locals because it is a small town\. But it’s also a destination spot, being so close to NYC, so there are a lot of tourists.
What impact does your business have on your community?
We offer something unique and sweet.
What local businesses do you rely on to be successful?
I think we all rely on each other. I think every business in town offers something special and different from the next. When customers come to town to visit one shop they have the opportunity to discover other businesses.
What is missing in the area that you wish we had?
A coffee roaster/shop. A coffee shop where you can sit down but also roasts the beans on site.
What places in Upstate NY do you most frequent?
Tell us something about yourself that people might be surprised to know.
Pierre was originally a savory chef.
What would be your dream local Staycation?
Oh boy, there are so many places. We think any of the local hotels. They’re all so unique. We work a lot so just being able to stay the night somewhere, go out to dinner, and enjoy a hike would be wonderful. There are so many beautiful places to visit in the area.
What is your current state of mind?
Oh boy, spaghetti brains: newborn, holiday season, business to run, emails to return, and so on!
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Monday – 11:30-6:00 PM
Tuesday – Closed
Wednesday – Closed
Thursday – 11:30-6:00 PM
Friday – 11:30-6:00 PM
Saturday – 11-7:00 PM
Sunday – 11-7:00 PM