Confections with Convictions is serving up much more than mouthwatering chocolates; it’s also changing the lives of young people across the community.
The first time the phrase “confections with convictions” slipped out of juvenile counselor Dale Anderson’s mouth, he apologized and called it “a bad joke.” These days, “Confections with Convictions” means something much more than any bad joke could: the phrase marks a fresh start for dozens of young people who have experienced recent incarceration and are looking to move forward with their lives on a positive note through work at the Kalamazoo-based chocolate shop.
Since Confections with Convictions began, it’s turned into a “safe place where young folks can imagine and build their futures,” says Teresa Greenlees, partner at the chocolate shop. She says, “[Our employees] are getting more than just work history with us; each person who comes to us is getting their own success story.” Whether an individual looks at their time spent working with Confections with Convictions as a “launch pad” to lead them to their next step in life, or as a simple, comfortable place to exist for a short period of time, Greenlees says, “We’re more than happy to be here for them.”
The shop focuses on care in crafting their chocolates—but more than that, they focus on care for people throughout the process. Confections with Convictions uses only ethically-sourced, fair-trade cacao to create their treats. “The rationale,” says Greenlees, “is that we don’t want to help a few people here in Kalamazoo at the expense of slaves in Africa. We’re one of only a few chocolatiers in the state that uses fair-trade cacao, but for us, it’s sort of the whole point.”
Confections with Convictions has been doing work in Kalamazoo since 2010, but recently, the business expanded to occupy more square feet of its Crosstown Parkway residence. Visit the shop and you’ll find a staff of hardworking, confident employees ready to help—and if it’s your first time visiting, you’ll have the chance to choose a free sample from the store’s case of bonbons!