Stella Leona Artisan Chocolates
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
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 8, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.