Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates

American Made Since 2008

Nancy Bontrager

Pettisville, Ohio
Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates are handmade with the finest, freshest ingredients creating chocolate that indulges both the eyes and the palate.

Tell us about your business.

I developed a taste for exceptional chocolate when I was a child. I remember my father bringing home fine European chocolates from his business trips abroad. Those chocolates were unlike anything I had seen or tasted: rich with flavor, creamy smooth, and beautifully wrapped. Receiving them made me feel especially loved. As I grew, so did my love affair with chocolate. I began to create, from my own recipes, chocolate confections for friends and family. They were expressions of love and are the foundation on which I have created the Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates. Under the direction of an accomplished chocolatier, I blended the complexities of fine ingredients and the artistry that distinguishes Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates from others. My grandmother, Leona, and her sister, Estella, inspired the company name and my love for life, family, and baking. I honor them with the commitment-to-quality and attention-to-detail that are essential ingredients in everything I create.

What makes your business stand out?

The uniqueness of Stella Leona comes from a family heritage of innovation and creating fabulous food that is a labor of love. A one-of-a-kind, hand painted gift is a thoughtful way to show appreciation for someone you love. All of our chocolates are hand made, one at a time, in Pettisville, Ohio (pop. 252)—just about as rural Midwest as you can get. Flavor influences come both from our family history and from present day experiences. This sole proprietorship is a classic example of female entrepreneurship in action—real people, real life. Love people. Give chocolate.

What's the best business advice you've received?

It came through my grandfather, himself an entrepreneur. He said, “It’s amazing what you can do when you don’t know it can’t be done.” It taught me to take calculated risks, be persistent, and to get over my fear of failure.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

    Nominate yourself
  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 8, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    See the finalists
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

    Buy tickets now

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