Nothing about opening BlissBomb Donuts went as Dan Stevens planned. When he first started thinking about opening the online donut delivery company, he just thought it'd be a more personal way for people to show appreciation for their friends, family, and colleagues.
Having worked in the corporate world for several years prior, Dan knew firsthand the importance of supporting and encouraging employees, and he wanted to give people the ability to show that support beyond the basic box of assorted cookies. Mini gourmet donuts, with their cute, colorful look and different dough, icing, and topping flavors, seemed like the perfect customizable way. Dan linked up with pastry chef Tarran Hatton to bring the idea to life, and they planned to open in New York on March 18.
Then came the coronavirus. Businesses closed. People stayed home. Dan pushed back his business opening to May 5.
The world he opened BlissBomb in was completely different from the one he planned it in, and somehow, that new world order was exactly the right world for BlissBomb to exist in.
In the company's two short months in business, Dan's seen dozens of boxes sent to friends and strangers alike. Colleagues have sent boxes to new hires who never got to meet their co-workers. Employers have sent boxes to employees to show their appreciation for continued hard work, even when remotely. Students have sent boxes to teachers they didn't get to properly say goodbye to. Strangers have sent boxes to health care workers.
"Just yesterday, I had a grandmother call," Dan says. "She'd been trying to place an order on her phone and it wasn't working, so she called and I took her through ordering—pen and paper, the old-school way. And in the process she was telling me the story about who she's sending to and why she's sending. All of her grandkids live in the Bay Area, and she lives in New York. And she said, 'I've collected so many things that I would normally have sent to my grandkids, but they're just sitting here because we're too afraid to go to the post office. We don't go out unless it's an absolute necessity.' She used to own a chocolate shop, so her grandkids are always looking for chocolates from her, so she's like, 'I want to order all of your chocolate flavors to send to my grandkids.'"
"The messages we've been seeing with the gift boxes have been so heartwarming," Dan says. He's seen notes like, "Congrats on hitting Q1! I'll treat you to happy hour once we get through #rona" and "Just a little something to let you know how much I appreciate you! We're so lucky to have you on the team."
But Dan's favorite messages are the ones people are sending to themselves.
"Some of them just stopped me and made me think, 'Oh, wow, that's so cool that you're saying that to yourself," Dan says.
He's seen notes to self like, "Making it through each day is a victory!", "Best virtual professor award!", and "Have fun eating these morsels of bliss!"
His favorite one so far: "Love yourself <3."
"It's just heartwarming," Dan says. "Because you probably wouldn't literally say those things to yourself, but when you have to write something on a card, it's like, 'Oh, that's so sweet.'"
Writing messages to yourself almost wasn't an option for BlissBomb orders, Dan says. "At one point, making the site, we were like, for people who are just ordering a box for themselves, we probably should give them the option to not choose a card and not write a message. But then we were like, 'No, let's make them write. They're going through the trouble of ordering some treats for themselves. Let's have them be required to choose a card and write a note to themselves. And I'm so glad we did because I just think, how often do you really take the time or have the motivation to just write a note to yourself?"
All of the messages, Dan says, reify the thousands of acts of kindness brought on by the coronavirus. "It speaks to the fact that we launched at a time when people were really thinking about other people," he says. "It was easy enough to be stuck in our own drama, right? Like, 'Oh my god, I'm going stir-crazy in my apartment.' But we noticed that it was a time when people were really thinking about other people. We're so glad we're able to help make that connection."