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The Styled Side: the rise of fancy boutique sweets




Compartes Chocolatier brands itself as creating artisanal chocolate with a Southern California aesthetic.
Compartes Chocolatier brands itself as creating artisanal chocolate with a Southern California aesthetic.
Instagram @compartes

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It's almost Valentine's Day and, love it or loathe it, it's big business for candy.

Americans spend roughly about $1.7 billion on candy every Valentine's Day, and retailers in Southern California are upping their game with artisanal and fashionable products.

"L.A.'s chocolatiers and candy makers are elevating the art and making sweets stylish and, most importantly these days, Instagram-worthy," says Michelle Dalton Tyree of Fashion Trends Daily.

The now-infamous Brooklyn chocolatier Mast Brothers first popularized the trend with $10 "boutique" bars wrapped in stylish patterns.

However, Los Angeles chocolatiers have caught on with that design philosophy, too

"Compartes Chocolatier, which bills itself as the nation's hippest and most trendsetting chocolate shop," says Tyree, "and stylish it is!"

Started in 1950, the brand was reinvigorated by a young chocolatier named Jonathan Grahm. He uses ingredients from local farmers markets and chocolates sourced from South America.

Grahm also fuses fashion, art and style into the artisanal chocolates with stylish packaging and beautiful designs on the chocolates themselves.

The California Love bar, for example, has very L.A.-centric graphics. Compartes also collaborates with the likes of interior designer Kelly Wearstler for some of its designs.

It's paid off in social media with more than 74,000 Instagram followers.

Another fashionable candy retailer on Tyree's radar is Sugarfina, based in Beverly Hills.

"I like to think of it as the Tiffany & Co. of candy," she says. "It has signature and stylish robin's egg blue boxes."

Like Compartes, Sugarfina has partnered with fashion brands such as Alice & Olivia. It has over 58,000 Instagram followers, itself.

For local designers and retailers, pairing with these candy makers – or even selling them at sale counters along side skirts and sweaters – can help solidify your hip and fashionable creditials.

"It's really about pushing the lifestyle behind the brand, and that's what sells," says Tyree.