Rockland chocolatier only Maine finalist in entrepreneur competition

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A Rockland chocolatier is one of 30 female entrepreneurs across the nation competing for a chance to be mentored by fashion designer Tory Burch.

Kate McAleer of Bixby and Co. received word Monday that she is shortlisted for a fellowship at ToryBurchFoundation.org. If selected, the craft candy maker will participate in a three-day workshop in New York City hosted at Tory Burch Headquarters. She would next enter a pitch competition before a panel of judges to win a $100,000 grant. Fellows receive guidance from the New York City-based foundation for one year.

From construction companies to clean energy, to ethical fashion to sustainable banking, the caliber of competition looks fierce.

But McAleer, (one of two business owners from New England) is having a great year. She won a Good Food Award in January and is working to reinvent the candy bar.

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“I was impassioned to start my own business to impact change. Candy bars are full of additives and alternatives, people are looking or something they can indulge in and have fun with and have energy,” said McAleer, who moved her business from a commercial kitchen space in Belfast to an ice factory in Rockland two years ago.

“I am committed to manufacturing in Maine. The Tory Burch Foundation is trying to promote woman-led business in a new way.”

If she receives the fellowship, “we would use it to grow the company, our plan is to launch the brand nationally.”

To help make that happen vote here. “You can vote every day until April 22,” said McAleer.

“We are bringing something innovative to a category that has yet to be innovated. We have a holistic approach to our business and are committed to our community and state. We want to change the national conversation on candy and what is should be.”

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.