Bon Pastries and Baked Goods: Building a business during a pandemic

By Valentina Pucarelli, Photojournalist

Vanilla cake, almond and chocolate croissants and strawberry Danish are some of the vegan pastries Bon Pastries and Baked Goods offers. Valentina Pucarelli

Bonnie Shultz, a senior ASL-English interpretation major, began baking for her family at a young age, and after working for a coffee shop that only offered non-vegan croissants, she decided to start selling the vegan alternative herself.

“I just thought, ‘Why don’t people have these vegan?'” Schultz said. “So it started just as a croissant business.”

Shultz started her online business Bon Pastries and Baked Goods in November 2020 by selling pastries on Instagram with help from her friends.

Shultz said the way people learn how to run a business is by doing, but she could not have done it without her friends.

Now, Shultz offers vegan croissants, Danishes, focaccia, cake, cookies and more, depending on what is in season, and hopes to be selling to coffee shops in Chicago in the future.

Being vegan for about five years, Shultz is focused on being mindful about the impact her business creates on the world and other people.

“I just want to make really delicious baked goods for my friends and neighbors in a way that prioritizes people and planet over profit,” Shultz said. “I just don’t want to have any negative impacts.”

The 25-year-old buys most of her ingredients locally, has compostable packaging and avoids using environmentally harmful tropical oil because she believes doing it like this is the way to build vibrant communities and fulfill her environmental mission.

“I think that if I have a vegan baking company, it shouldn’t actually be worse for the planet,” Shultz said.

Shultz said she wants to have a holistic approach, as “white veganism” often ignores the fact that certain ingredients, although vegan, are made with slave labor and that some people do not have access to a vegan diet.

“I think that white veganism can just go to extremes and really prioritize animal life over the lives of people of color and Indigenous communities,” Shultz said.

Bonnie Shultz, the owner of Bon Pastries and Baked Goods, bakes and runs her business from her Wicker Park Apartment. Valentina Pucarelli

Shultz also works for the Urban Canopy, an urban farm and composting service with locations in Little Village and Englewood, and she contributes her pastries to their Local Unified Community Support Agriculture boxes.

When subscribing to the LUCSA box, patrons can choose to add different products from local vendors like eggs, dairy, bread and Bon Pastries and Baked Goods, in addition to the vegetables they grow.

“We think that there’s a lot of power in just really supporting everyone around you and not seeing other farms and such as competition,” Shultz said.

Kellie Hahn, an Urban Canopy staff member who helps Shultz with deliveries, said she wouldn’t want people who are vegan to miss out on pastries.

“Bonnie makes really delicious stuff, and I think it’s amazing that people who can‘t have dairy can have it,” Hahn said.

The business has also helped Shultz maintain a positive mood during the pandemic and in the winter.

“That was just such a tough time that having something to focus on that I feel like is just mine and it’s whatever I want to do with it really made a huge difference for my mental health,” Shultz said.

Shultz said she has noticed a change in people’s relationship with food and the value of pastries and work-life balance.

“I think that more emphasis is being put on what food we’re eating and how a lot of people sought comfort and food during the pandemic,“ Shultz said. “Pastry and baked goods are important, because they can make such a big difference just [to] the day that you’re having, or giving them to someone and sharing them with a friend.”

You can follow Bonnie and order her pastries for delivery or pick-up through her Instagram page.