Dale Anderson, chocolatier and the founder of Confections with Convictions, has worked as a counselor with young people in the court system for several years. Through this work it became clear that talk therapy—while helpful—was often not enough to overcome the many barriers they face. Dale wanted to develop a more powerful way to help them become successful members of society.
As a licensed residential builder, Dale first thought of starting a construction business to employ and train these youth on the job. This project turned out to be impossible, due to child labor laws. While he pondered next steps, he made a joke which was to become a reality.
After buying a box of artisanal chocolates, he joked that maybe he should open a chocolate shop instead—and call it Confections with Convictions. The joke reflected the fact that he intended to hire youth with criminal records, as well as his desire to incorporate socially responsible principles into his business. The idea stuck with him, and a few months later he became convinced that it had potential. Many of the youth are kinesthetic learners—ones who learn by doing. “The work would help them learn work and life skills on a job they are paid to do. We’d use only wholesome ingredients and sustainable business practices.”
Dale spent three years studying and practicing the art of making fine chocolates then put his construction skills to work renovating a building for his shop on Crosstown Parkway in Kalamazoo. Confections with Convictions openened in December of 2010, and now produces fine artisanal Fair Trade/Organic chocolates and fine young citizens.