Tasting life’s sweetness

It is probably fairly evident that we take gifting and giving seriously at Fran’s. It is more than a singular action—we look at it as a way of life. We cherish pursuing the extraordinary in every detail of our daily chocolate-making endeavors. From the way the chocolates are presented in our gift boxes to the hand-sprinkling of salt on our caramels to the careful tying of each beautiful ribbon to ensure the perfect bow, every element is infused with love, care and consideration to share with you the happiness that we get by making our confections.

This deep passion for artistry and craft is fueled by our interactions with the craftspeople and artisans who surround us in Seattle and around the world. We have been highly influenced by cultures that honor and celebrate life’s sweetest treasures and the act of gifting with grace, beauty and thoughtfulness.

Gracing daily life

We have been extraordinarily fortunate to travel both near and far in our pursuit of all things beautiful, tasty and delicious: a trip to Paris inspired our founder, Fran Bigelow, to open our very first store in Madison Park in 1982; our Calimyrna figs are grown on a small artisan farm in California; and our gray sea salt is harvested off the coast of Brittany, France. We have been especially struck by the Japanese tradition of gifting, which graces daily life with tokens of appreciation, large and small.

Japanese lacquer bowl by Yamada Heiando

It doesn’t take a special occasion to join in the delights of this tradition. It’s widely accepted as giri—a social custom enjoyed by givers and recipients alike. And the gift doesn’t have to be big to be cherished. In fact, it may often be modest—“a little something.” The magic is in the thoughtfulness that transforms any moment into something special. It reminds us that one of the most precious gifts we can give someone is our attention.

The zen of edible gifts is also appreciated; these ephemeral delights are a reminder to experience every moment to its fullest.

Savoring happiness

In a culture where people enjoy the pleasures of giving and receiving so often, edible gifts are most appreciated. Jewel-like fruits such as oranges and cherries are traditional, and can be paired with confections. Perhaps edible gifts are so popular because they can be shared with others. In Japanese culture it is ideal for one generous gesture to lead to another. The zen of edible gifts is also appreciated; these ephemeral delights are a reminder to experience every moment to its fullest.

Wrapped in meaning

In Japan, the presentation of the gift is as important as what is inside. This deep aesthetic has always resonated with us at Fran’s. We invited master Japanese artisans to partner with us in creating an exclusive collection of custom-designed and handmade Chabako boxes and lacquerware. These artisans use skills passed down and refined over hundreds of years to create truly unique and inspiring pieces that can be treasured for many years. We love knowing that these beautiful works of art that hold our confections will live on to be used and treasured, long after the chocolates have been savored.


Our pursuit of the extraordinary

Naijo Washi paper handmade, image courtesy of Hideyuki Kamon

Washi! Washi! Washi!

We sighed with delight when we first looked upon this beautiful handmade paper with a rich tradition of craftsmanship, and we knew that it would be the perfect complement to our confections.

We found an amazing partner in Yasushi Yokoo, an expert in Japanese scroll and screen construction, whose poetic, handcrafted Chabako boxes (tea boxes) preserve an ancient tradition. Each box is made of lightweight wood from the Paulownia tree and finished with washi, a paper crafted by highly skilled Japanese artists using techniques perfected during the Edo era (1603-1868). The washi is printed with a background pattern of ripples and cherry blossoms, sprinkled with silver- and gold-leaf squares, and then carefully attached to the Paulownia box.

Various washi prints

Hand-lacquered boxes and bowls

Our elegant hand-lacquered gift boxes and bowls are made by Yamada Heiando, lacquerware purveyors to Japan’s Imperial Household since 1919. Nothing matches the deep luster and smoothness of this distinctive Japanese art, which uses the sap of the urushi tree to create an array of decorative objects and the tableware used in Japanese haute cuisine.

Our Ryu lacquer bowls, with bright red finishes and accents of rich gold, are elegant and artistic gifts that become beautiful and useful centerpieces in everyday life.

Designed and handcrafted exclusively for us by Yamada Heiando, our Tame (“tah-may”) lacquer box is made by applying a thin layer of black-tinted lacquer over a rich red lacquer base. This striking technique causes a rich and subtle array of colors to be revealed as different lighting hits the box’s smooth finish.

Treasured forever

Our chocolate-filled washi and lacquerware items are meant to be used and treasured for years to come—perfect vessels for holding love notes, jewelry, or personal mementoes.