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Bringing Together the Ingredients for Success

In the winter of 2011, Leigh Kellis got a craving for donuts, so she started looking for the best recipe she could find. After several months of experimenting, she had worked out a donut she loved, and that she thought others would love too. She tested her unique potato-based donuts by bringing a sample to the local coffee shop to see if they would sell them. Initially, Leigh got them to agree to sell a dozen per day. As anyone familiar with Portland food culture can tell you, word gets around quickly when there’s a delicious and unique new entry to the local scene, and Leigh’s donuts were no exception. Within a few months, she was producing 100 dozen donuts per week to keep up with the demand from her distributors. She accomplished this without sacrificing the focus on keeping everything as locally sourced as possible, with Maine-produced fruit, butter, eggs and potatoes forming the base of her products.

Naturally, the growth that The Holy Donut was going through brought on challenges that many food producers are familiar with, primarily finding enough space to run a commercial kitchen. By reaching out to the Portland chapter of SCORE, Leigh and her business partner, Jeff Buckwalter, were able to manage the challenges as they arose, and moved from a shared commercial kitchen to their own shop in 2012. Within another year and a half, The Holy Donut had opened its second location, bringing sales up to a million donuts per year. Currently production is more than 200 times Leigh’s initial one dozen per day,growing to 38 employees and further expansions are planned, with another location scheduled to open in Scarborough in March 2017.

Thanks to the quality and natural flavors of The Holy Donut, the business not only receives praise from locals, but also fromnational media. The New York Times, Boston Globe, Elle Magazine, and Bon Appetit have all featured The Holy Donut, commenting on the unique nature of the potato-based dough, and praising the local nature of the business. And, in 2017, Leigh Kellis was selected as Maine's Small Business Person of the Year by the SBA. Just as Leigh has taken a stake in her community by committing to as many local ingredients as she can, she also gives back by choosing one local non-profit to support each year. All Holy Donut employees are encouraged to volunteer in their communities, with the business offering up to 16 hours of paid time off to employees who choose to volunteer their time.

Company Name: 
The Holy Donut
Portland, Maine