By: Chad Howell
The Chartreuse Sisters is a bakery rooted in heritage and pride. Alyson and Mallory Caillaud-Jones are sisters raised in Grand Rapids by their French mother and American father. Both GVSU alums, they took unique paths to find their way back together as business partners.
The sisters are four years apart and entered GVSU as so. They both received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications during their time, Alyson majoring in Film & Video and Mallory in Theatre. Both worked as freelancers in their respective industries upon graduating. Splitting time as freelancers and working as baristas and other food industry jobs, the sisters both felt a connection to their current paths with their vision set on something else. Their education at GVSU, time in the food industry, and French-American heritage mixed together as the perfect recipe for a business: Chartreuse Sisters.
Q: When did you know you wanted to run your own business?
In the fall of 2019 we had a realization; we felt the same fulfillment on a film set as we did when we were baking pastries and creating latte art. We started Chartreuse Sisters at the end of October 2019, operating under Cottage Food Law in a home kitchen with a long term goal of opening a patisserie café!
Q: What exactly is The Chartreuse Sisters?
Chartreuse Sisters is a French-American fusion bakery. Our products are inspired by our French-American heritage and our nostalgic food and drink experiences from traveling here and abroad. We combine French & American pastry techniques and pair them with flavor profiles found in both cuisines to create unique and exciting treats!
Our goal is to open a patisserie café and to provide outstanding baked goods and beverages in an inclusive, welcoming, and visually stunning environment.
Q: How is everything progressing? What plans do you both have for the future?
In our second year in business we have doubled our sales and gained a 150% increase in followers on Instagram. After several sold out pop ups this summer and an increase in regular customers, we have decided to take the next step in our business plan to open a store front.
We have signed an LOI with a location in Uptown Grand Rapids and are now raising funds in order to secure the space and begin the build out phase.
We have a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with some really great perks and have entered the 5×5 Night pitch competition through Start Garden where people vote on an idea and the top 5 ideas get to pitch for $5,000!
Q: You have a great website and social media – can you elaborate on the importance of this for your business?
Thank you! We both have experience in the world of marketing and specifically social media, so we have seen first hand the importance and potential of utilizing these platforms to connect with our followers and the community.
Our Instagram and Facebook are our main communication tools for letting our customers know about pop ups, preorders and other exciting business news.
Q: What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned as entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We have found over and over again that people genuinely want to help and offer advice.
Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
You don’t need to have a business degree to pursue your dreams. There are a lot of free opportunities in Grand Rapids to learn more about opening a business. We have been able to connect with other entrepreneurs and small business owners in our community and have found many mentors both through networking opportunities and organizations like SCORE and SBDC.
Chartreuse Sisters was also recently selected into The 100 business competition by Start Garden, recognizing the top 100 business ideas in Michigan for the year. The French-American fusion bakery has continued to grow in Grand Rapids and being a part of The 100 is another great step toward their goal of opening a cafe. You can find out more about the Chartreuse Sisters on their website and see more tasty treats on their Instagram.