Sweet side notes and sound advice: Interview with Cloë Lane
[October 2020, by Alexzandria Compton] Cloë Lane, the name rings a bell like the ingénue of your favorite 60’s film, with a character, and sophistication that holds a kind of empowered depth that any of us would have looked to embody as our future selves; Grounded, kind hearted, and an entrepreneurial maven with a sweet tooth to share! Read on as we sit down to talk with Cloë about everything from kicking nail biting for good, and how she’s been navigating her own small business during these trying times.
Tell us a little about where you are from, what your creative practices are, and what prompted you to start your business, Bon Puf?
I grew up in West Los Angeles and I am a fifth generation Californian. I have always been a very creative person and thankfully have very creative parents, too! My parents started their own graphic design firm when I was young, so I grew up spending a lot of time in their studio, observing their amazing work ethic, learning design programs on the computer, and looking through their collection of art books. When I came to my parents after my senior year of highschool and told them I wanted to start a business they were incredibly supportive and helped me map out a plan to get started.
I knew I wanted to create a whole new way of experiencing cotton candy with a minimalist, modern cart and all-natural gourmet flavors — Salted Caramel, Mango Chile, Honey Rose, Lychee Green Tea and Chai to name a few. In 2012 nothing like this had ever been done and I knew that it would completely revolutionize cotton candy! I debuted my cart and original flavors at the Unique LA Summer Market alongside my mom, my boyfriend (now husband) Athen and my best friend Kili. I am very humbled by what I have been able to experience the past 7 years of running Bon Puf. It has given me an incredible opportunity to work hard and raise the bar in the event and culinary industry. This year has definitely been challenging, but it has given us time to step back, recharge and plan for the next season of our business.
"As a creative person and an entrepreneur,
I love blending the two and seeing where my gifts overlap"
We’ve been fawning over your block printing work @laloprint. How did you get into it, and what are the things that inspire it the most?
I grew up with a block print kit in my family’s art closet. I recently revisited the artform after coming across the kit and totally fell back in love. LALO is my passion project! Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart, so I always encourage my fellow business owners to have a hobby that allows them to set work aside and escape, even if it is just for a little while. Block printing during my down time is incredibly therapeutic for me. There is something about carving out my designs and ideas from the block that is so meditative. I love the satisfaction of inking my block, peeling back the paper and seeing what is revealed. The hand-printing process is so organic that each print is unique and beautiful in it’s own special way.
When I started Bon Puf I found a lot of joy in building a brand identity. It’s been awesome to revisit that joy as I slowly build LALO. As a creative person and an entrepreneur I love blending the two and seeing where my gifts can overlap. When creating my prints I am incredibly inspired by the feeling of being on vacation. I like each of my prints to feel like you are peering through a window and gazing upon a beautiful and new landscape. I find a lot of inspiration from vintage matchbox art. I love how they are so tiny but are so impactful. The restrictions of printing on such a small surface allows so much creativity when it comes to shape, texture and color.
How do you find your work/life harmony? Do you have any particular self care rituals that help keep these things in flow?
One of my favorite rituals of self care is exercise in nature. Whether surfing with my husband in the ocean or going on a hike with no cell reception, it is in these moments that I feel most alive and taken care of. It is a break from our phones, and we try to limit work conversations. We use this time to connect about other things, soak in the sunshine and feel immersed in nature.
In recent dialogue you expressed the magic that the Dry Gloss Manicure has had on getting you to quit biting your nails! Can you elaborate a little more on the history of this habit of yours, your discovery of our kit, and the journey you've taken to get your nails to where they are at today?
My hands get a lot of wear and tear running my business and creating. It also doesn't help that I have a pretty bad nail biting habit that has been an outlet for stress since I was a little kid. I came to the conclusion that I would probably never be happy with my nails and hands for those reasons. When I discovered Bare Hands I was so intrigued by the idea of a Dry Gloss Manicure. I loved the idea of glossy buffed out nails without the toxic chemicals of polish or gel. I placed an order for the kit and stopped biting my nails in anticipation.
Becoming a part of the Bare Hands community has drastically changed my relationship with my hands. Instead of letting the wear and tear my hands go through to make beautiful things stop me from having manicured hands, I now see my hands as an outlet for an extra dose of self care. My weekly Dry Gloss Manicure is a ritual I look forward to and encourages me to forge new healthy habits of care especially for my nails. Four weeks into my Bare Hands journey and my nails are the prettiest they have been in a very long time!
What does a normal day look like for you since covid started?
Each day tends to be different and unique during this season, but we try to implement some routine to keep us organized. My husband and I spend work week mornings making a game plan for the day and tending to business maintenance over coffee. Once we finish up, the rest of the day is usually spent working on our home renovation and/or getting outside and doing something active. Last year we bought a fixer upper not knowing what 2020 had in store! In some ways owning a home during this season has been stressful, but on the bright side this season of pause has given us time to move ahead on projects that would have taken even longer if our business was running normally.
We are absolutely in love with @bonpuf and your use of natural ingredients. What is it that attributes to its quality?
Yes, we are all about quality over quantity at Bon Puf! Back when I first knew I wanted to pursue what would become Bon Puf, I asked my parents for a cotton candy machine for Christmas. When Christmas morning rolled around and I unwrapped my first cotton candy machine I instantly wanted to test it out. We didn't have any cotton candy sugar on hand, but my mom did have a jar of organic cane sugar so that's what we used. The cotton candy made from the cane sugar was so delicious and warm. It naturally tasted like vanilla and caramel, and we were all shocked with how delicious and dynamic the flavor was. I was so inspired that I soon began experimenting with incorporating flavors and toppings and quickly realized I was on to something special.
In our 7 years of business I often connect with families who come up to our cart, but are concerned about feeding their children cotton candy due to the ingredient list. It is incredibly rewarding to tell them that our cotton candy is different...clean, all-natural and just as delicious! Oftentimes we are able to give kids with certain allergies and sensitivities their first cotton candy experience! At the end of the day, what pushes me to continue to work hard and grow Bon Puf is being able to share my love of cotton candy with others and to make someone's day with a sweet cloud of yummy goodness. It is in these special moments that I feel so fulfilled!
What is your personal connection to incorporating a more natural approach to Bon Puf, and the deciding factor for taking on a more natural approach in your business and lifestyle?
I feel very privileged to have grown up in West Los Angeles which is at the forefront of health and lifestyle trends. While trends come and go, I think there is an overall awareness of being active and staying healthy that I have absorbed from growing up here. This was also balanced by being homeschooled in a community of family and friends that always encouraged simplicity in living, healthy and nourishing eating, and a childhood with lots of time spent outdoors. I have carried this philosophy into my adulthood and naturally into the ethos of Bon Puf.
Knowing what you know now, what wisdom do you have for small business owners rolling with the punches of navigating a business during such uncertain times?
These times can be very scary and daunting if you are your own boss. We had a lot of stress in the beginning when cancellations started rolling in for the busy spring and summer season we had ahead. We were feeling somber and sad for our clients and the world as a whole. We decided to fully go on pause. For us, we decided to use this time to go internal and work on some general housekeeping, organization, and maintenance that had gone on the back burner due to busyness and growth. We also made it our priority to be extra available to our clients who were navigating cancellations and postponements and, when it felt appropriate, to post and connect with our followers on social media. My advice to fellow business owners would be to use this time wisely, but to also not put too much pressure on yourself. In some cases it works for a business to pivot and grow during this season, but don't be discouraged if these avenues don't open up for your particular business. Everyone's journey is different.