The Holy Donut in Portland Is a Small Maine Business That’s Big on Flavor
When fans of your donuts post on Craigslist looking for people to go to your shop before the donuts sell out, or perhaps even drive 20 hours to sample some, you know you've got something special.
Holy Donut owner Leigh Kellis founded her business on the same premise that so many successful small business owners have before her: a personal desire. In her case, it was a craving for a donut that didn't have the guilt of artificial flavoring. This lead to her developing an incredibly fresh, intensely tasty donut made with what Kellis refers to as the "(not-so) secret ingredient":
Fresh Maine potatoes. Adding mashed potatoes gives the donuts a delicious moist texture that makes them just melt in your mouth.
In fact, The Holy Donut is dedicated to using fresh local ingredients, ranging from Aroostook County potatoes to local berries, fruit and buttermilk from Casco Bay Butter.
That said, Kellis is the first to admit that making mistakes is mandatory when you start a business based completely on passion and instinct. In 2015 she told MaineBiz:
"You have to be open to mistakes. That's how innovation happens. Opening a business requires patience and receptivity to learning and a lot of faith. But it doesn't require that you know it all. "
We asked Kellis to choose her favorite donut from her own collection, what it takes for small businesses to succeed in Maine and who exactly the Holy Donut customer is.
Describe the Holy Donut customer.
LEIGH KELLIS: Our customer loves the small town, family feel of our shop. We are quirky, our two stores are not the same and our products are made from scratch by hand. They like that.
What is the one popular donut that really surprised you?
LK: The chocolate sea salt is popular! It is delicious so it's not too surprising -- just a little unconventional!
Is there one donut from your collection that you could eat everyday?
LK: I love the sweet potato donuts -- I think they are unusually good. I could eat them every day.
You are pretty open about the fact that you are not interested right now in franchising. Why is that?
LK: We are not in a position to "franchise," as in, sell our concept as a ready-made business. We are still figuring out our processes. We may figure out how to open more of our own locations, but selling to others as a franchise isn't quite where we are now.
How did you find the money to open your business?
LK: Our original shop was financed by my mother!
If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking of launching a small business, what would it be?
LK: Love your product! Create something that you are thrilled about -- and other people will probably be thrilled with it, too.
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