Her Chocolates Combine Honey, Artistry and Inspiration

Each month the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently we connected with presenters Susan Brown. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase on December 30, 2017.

According to an article in the July 2017 edition of INC., researchers in Rome and L’Aquila, Italy, say they’ve demonstrated a clear link between the consumption of chocolate and strong brain function.

Entrepreneur and artist Susan Brown has believed this all along and by combining both her passion and smarts has created a whole new level of chocolate. By fusing the benefits of cacao with the medicinal and ancient healing power of honey she has created an exceptional culinary experience that combines health, beauty and love all in one small bon-bon.


Name: Susan Brown
Age: 58
City you live in: St. Paul
City of birth: Buffalo, NY
High school attended: Wheat Ridge, Colo.
College attended: University of Colorado, Boulder


Name of company: Mademoiselle Miel
Website: www.mademoisellemiel.com
Twitter: @MadameMiel
Business Start Date: April 9, 2011
Number of Employees: 8 part time
Number of Customers: We sell in multiple store locations in both Minnesota and California and have a honey kitchen and showroom in St. Paul.  Each location has a steady flow of customers.


Q. What led to this point?

A. I founded Mademoiselle Miel in St. Paul in 2011, bringing together my passion for innovative art and minimalist design with my love for the natural world, the culture of cuisine, and the rich historic flavor of local surroundings.

I was working as an artist by the time I was in high school and have spent my life developing that talent, originally nurtured by my mother. I’ve worked in many mediums but chocolate has been an extraordinary outlet for me. It has brought together many of the things that are important to me and has also allowed me to create an experience for others.

There’s so many interesting things about chocolate, honey and bees. I was inspired to start keeping bees by my father-in-law who was a farmer in River Falls, Wis., after a visit to France (where I focused on all things bees and honey). I discovered that the Paris Opera House had been keeping bees on their roof for quite some time. I thought if they can do it in Paris, we can do it in St. Paul. I was the first rooftop beekeeper in the cities for some time. Now it is more widely accepted and supported by the public. I knew the flavor of the urban honey would make an exceptional filling for my bon-bons.

Now, 11 years later, we take care of over 33 hives, housed on the rooftops of several businesses throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis. My classic bonbons are filled with the honey and decorated with my signature artist’s touch: 24-karat gold leaf. I continue to find inspiration in multiple sources and support many cultural movements — from ecological awareness, to social justice, to Slow Food — but the bees’ work is where Mademoiselle Miel chocolate begins, artistic expression and artisanal method is where it becomes complete.

Q. What is your business?

A. We make house-made chocolate using fair trade, single origin cacao and local maple sugar; honey bonbons featuring St. Paul rooftop honey and assorted confections and creations.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?


A. I ask other chocolate makers, chocolatiers and artists when I get stuck. Legacy chocolates, Kul, St. Croix Chocolates and Chocolat Celeste are some of the local chocolate people who have been really helpful.

Q. What is the origin of the business?

A. Honey became the sweetener of choice because of its beneficial properties and ease of digestion. I realized its potential has not been tapped as a sweetener and began a lifelong quest to develop recipes and a lifestyle using good, clean food. My goal was to keep the food elevated so that I matched the quality of the ingredients with flavor and presentation….READ FULL ARTICLE


You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org.

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Business Web Site of the Week – Six Online Shopping Scams

There’s not much that can’t be accomplished online these days. Shopping especially has become commonplace on the Internet. But with this increased traffic comes an increase in scams, as well.

You can avoid the most common online thievery with these six tips from the SmartMoney site. Learn more about protecting yourself at auction sites, recognizing counterfeit goods, and avoiding fake Web sites.

Maintaining a certain level of protection while conducting online transactions is imperative whether it involves your business or your personal life. Stay protected and learn to spot the scams with help from this site.

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Business Web Site of the Week – Cyber Security Tips

In real life, you wouldn’t walk down the street with your social security card pinned to your chest, handing out copies of your bank statement like political fliers. So why would you in Second Life? Keeping your information secure online is important, and these cyber security tips can help even the least tech-savvy among us stay safe.

Compiled by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, these tips explain the most common computer security issues in short, digestible snippets. Written with the non-technical computer user in mind, the site offers highly practical information and advice.

Online security discussions can sometimes give way to hysterics, but all fear-mongering aside you should probably know how a firewall works, how to use anti-virus software, and how to create a strong password. Check out the Cyber Security Tips site for more.   

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Business Web Site of the Week – Economic Indicators

We’ve all heard talk (be it sanguine or panicked) of a downturn in the national economy. A deceleration, as it’s called. But what is this talk based on?

Most analysts look to data from the federal government to fuel discussions, and we can too, with the Economic Indicators site from the Economics and Statistics Administration. This site collects federal economic statistics that reflect trends in the U.S. economy, such as GDP, Manufacturers’ Shipments, and Residential Home Sales.

This tool includes disparate information from numerous government sources and provides surprisingly easy access to what can be intimidating data. Unfortunately, the service is to be discontinued – due to budgetary constraints – starting in March. Things must be bad.

Update: Good news! The Economics and Statistics Administration has decided to continue providing this EconomicIndicators.gov site and service. Here’s an excerpt from the site:

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) has decided to continue the economicindicators.gov website. Featuring the economic releases from ESA’s Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the site was started by this Administration in 2002 to give greater awareness to these economic statistics. ESA initially planned to discontinue the service due to cost concerns but given the feedback ESA received, the decision has been made to continue the site and improve its functionality.

Does this mean things are looking up for the national economy? (What the heck, let’s be optimistic) Probably.
Thanks, Pat, for the heads-up!

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Business Web Site of the Week – National Center for Education Statistics

If you’re looking for a source of education-related statistics, visit the Institute of Education Sciences’ National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
NCES is part of the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. It is the primary organization that collects, analyzes, and reports on education-related data in the United States. NCES reports complete statistics on the condition of American education and education activities internationally.
In addition to education statistics, NCES also provides other tools, such as the ability to search for schools, colleges, and libraries, or use the college navigator to identify schools that best meet the user’s criteria. You can access NCES athttp://nces.ed.gov/.
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Business Web Site of the Week – STAT-USA Sources

Access this web site at: http://libguides.lib.ucf.edu/statusa
The STAT-USA service of the Federal government was a subscription-based resource for all kinds of market and statistical data, including international business data. It shut down on September 30.

The University of Central Florida Library has put together this guide linking you directly to the original sources of the data previously found in STAT-USA. Some sources are still fee-based, though many are free.

Use this for market research reports, industry statistics, economic indicators of all sorts, and foreign trade information.

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Business Web Site of the Week – GSA Per Diem Rates

Access this web site at: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/21287
If you’re wondering how much your next vacation or business trip might cost you – or you want to compare possible domestic locales by cost – have a look at the U.S. General Services Administration’s Per Diem Rates website.

The site was designed to show Federal employees the limits they have on spending each day for lodging, meals, and other incidental costs (local transportation, etc.). Typically the rates given reflect mid-range prices, not luxury or budget options.

While not designed for the non-Federal business traveler — nor for the holiday traveler — the figures on the site can at least be a start in setting a sample budget. Note that the rates given often vary by season, reflecting high-season and off-season price variations in certain locales (think Martha’s Vineyard, Colorado’s Rocky Mountains). Thanks to the Los Angeles Times for the tip!

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Business Web Site of the Week – Digital Inspiration Guides

Access this web site at: http://www.labnol.org/tag/guide/
Dubbing themselves “Tech a la Carte,” the folks at Digital Inspiration have put together an array of tech how-tos and reviews for the layperson wishing to get more out of a PC or the Web.

Some of our favorites with a business research bent include:
Know The Publishing Date of Web Pages
Find the Person Behind an Email Address
Know Everything About Web Sites

Others are for personal entertainment, utility, general office administration and organization, and other uses. Ever wondered how to do something that isn’t mentioned here? They welcome new questions – just follow the Ask a Question link. There are also plenty of additional tips and tricks elsewhere on the site under Video and Tech Tips.

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Business Website of the Week – Statistics Explained (your guide to European Statistics)

So often government statistical sites are rich in data but hard to navigate and decipher. No longer can this be said for Eurostat, the official compiler and publisher of just about all things statistical for the European Union, with the release of Statistics Explained.

Using a Wiki-type platform, Statistics Explained makes European data more easily accessible and understandable, with charts and graphs along with any background needed for understanding the numbers, links to related information, and a glossary of terms.

Statistics Explained currently features over 700 articles. To find the information you need, browse by statistical theme, category, or use the search engine.

It’s rare that a website can successfully fill the needs of both novices and expert users, but Statistics Explained may well be one that does. If you do business or have an interest in the European Union, be sure to bookmark it today.

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Business Website of the Week – BrowserShots.org

BrowserShots lets you virtually look over the shoulder of your website visitors, any of whom may be using a different web browser and operating system. These differences can have an impact on their experience with your brand.

Submit your web address, choose your screenshot options, then wait a few moments while the system works its magic. You’ll be presented with screenshots of your web page as it appears on the browser(s) you selected.

You can select the specific operating systems and browser versions you want to test (from over 80 choices). You can also specify special settings such as screen size (width), color depth (bits per pixel), Java enabled/disabled, Javascript enabled/disabled/version, or Flash enabled/disabled/version.

Handy when you want to verify your website appears as you planned — even for a visitor without the latest and greatest in operating systems or web browsers — Browsershots.org can find a place in any DIY web designer’s toolbox.
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