At Bijoux, the chocolates, not the décor, are the draw

Meggie Mobley, the founder of Bijoux Handcrafted Chocolates, plans to open a second retail shop this year and wants the décor to be boring: Walls, shelves, flooring—they’ll likely be painted in the same monochrome scheme as her black-and-white logo. Maybe the doormat will be gray. The drabber the better, she says, so customers in the Old Orchard business district of Webster Groves will be drawn to the star of her artisanal show: the bonbons. 

“I like that the chocolates are so colorful and nothing else can distract you from them,” says Mobley. She’s explaining this inside her current location, a 750-square-foot space in Des Peres that has come to feel too cramped for the level of business she’s doing. 

The slight, rapid-talking chocolatier—hair dyed pink on the day of my visit—sketches out her professional trajectory: She graduated from the University of Missouri–Columbia, trained at the French Pastry School in Chicago, then began making confections in her basement and selling them at Farmers’ markets. She hung out her shingle here, in this tiny strip mall on Manchester, just west of I-270, in 2020. Since then, she’s added a second chocolate machine and a handful of employees. Now, she says, “we’re bumping elbows.” 

The reason that Bijoux is “never-endingly busy,” as Mobley describes it, sits in the glass display case. The bonbons radiate a spectrum of colors and, in many cases, a cocoa butter shine. Some are solid colors; others are adorned with swirls, fades, speckles. (The tiramisu bears the Bijoux diamond logo, rendered in acetate.) To make these designs, she uses a variety of methods. She’ll use a paintbrush to spatter a chocolate with droplets of color, or use a fan blowing onto the chocolate machine’s conveyor belt to smear colorant.

Many of the bonbons are colored to match the fruit inside—for instance, blood orange, lemon, raspberry—but some flavors, such as salted caramel, don’t reflect flavor at all. Mobley selects those colors in part by examining the case’s contents and determining what’s missing from the whole. “I want the collective to look balanced,” says Mobley, who considers herself an art lover rather than an artiste

Her new location, which she hopes will open before the winter holidays (her busiest season), won’t have a display case atop a counter as her Des Peres shop does. Instead, she wants to install a protective sneeze guard and arrange plates underneath. Right now she makes 18 flavors, but in the new space she could showcase 24. She’s also considered trying her hand at petits gâteaux and partnering with other local makers to sell their creations. Whatever happens, she says, the shop will still have that picking-and-choosing-like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store feel.

She landed on the new Webster Groves location for several reasons. First, she wanted to be closer to the city—many customers said in an email survey that they wanted her there, too. Second, the cost of commercial leases in West County seemed exorbitant. She doesn’t know whether the Webster store will turn out to be her new location or her second. “I’ll look at the metrics,” Mobley says, “and if it makes sense to have both going at the same time, that’s the dream.” 

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