Co-owner (or “queen,” as she prefers)
Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections
When she started the business: 1983
Married, with three grown children
Catherine Carty-Wilbur does what so many women fantasize about: She’s surrounded by chocolate all day long. But her story is (pun intended, of course) much richer than that.
Starting out nearly 30 years ago, she and her husband have established one of the most beloved chocolate companies in southern Maine, where they craft 95 percent of their chocolate confections in-house. Ultimately, doing business in Maine can be difficult, she acknowledged – but in the end, the people make it worthwhile.
Q — What factors from your childhood gave you the courage to venture out on your own?
A — I had to do a lot for myself growing up. If anything was going to happen, I had to make it happen.
Q — What do you think are the key traits you need to become a successful female entrepreneur?
A — Definitely a quality product; attention to detail; and one of the most important things is having employees that you trust and that you encourage, to try to make their job a pleasant experience for them, so that they want to help and do well. Also, having a positive attitude helps – and in the candy industry, basically most people that you deal with are that way.
Q — What keeps you motivated today?
A — There’s always something new to learn to keep you interested. I recently learned how to do graphics so I could make our own catalogs. In general, there are so many aspects to a small business where you make your own product – fundraising, retail, mail order, corporate, wholesale.
Q — What’s your overall outlook on life, summed up in a few sentences?
A — Try to be positive, and try to make people around you feel comfortable and welcome. Also, family is really important.