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21Country: The sweet story behind DeBrand

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) - When you take a look at the operations of local gourmet chocolate-maker DeBrand, you'll find the art of making candy is a family affair.

The company is still led by Cathy Brand-Beere, who founded DeBrand in 1987.

But following in her footsteps over two decades later, is her daughter Audree Beere.

“It’s been a lot of fun as you can imagine, growing up around chocolates," she told us, "the goal right now is for me to learn every aspect of the company, and that’s what I’ve been working on the last couple years. Learning the kitchens, the shops, our mail order department, wholesale, accounting, public relations, marketing - diving into every aspect of it. So, its been a lot of learning the past couple years, and still have so much to learn but every day is so exciting and I feel like I already have learned so much."

Audree and her two sisters have worked for DeBrand on-and-off since they were young girls.

"It's truly a family business, everyone in my family is working here now," she said.

And that includes Audree's 2-year-old daughter.

"We already have a little apron and beret for her. She loves chocolate and will come into work for us," Audree told us, "we actually have a little play chocolate shop and toy register in my mom’s office that she likes to play with when she’s here. So I think she has it in her blood, and she is just on the same track as I was as her age so I think we’re good!"

Leading DeBrand wasn't something Audree really considered, until the last few years.

"It's deep in my bones, how much I love it, being a family business, growing up in this company and now seeing how much my daughter loves chocolate too its just fun, its awesome," Audree said, "I never knew for certain what I would do when I was a kid it was just kind of fun to work here, and now I’m taking it really seriously and looking at it as a long-term career and seeing what I can do for this company in the future."

DeBrand offers tours of their production facility during the week.

Due to the pandemic, sizes of tours are reduced to small groups and families to allow for social distancing.

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Daniel Beals

Daniel Beals is the producer of the ABC21 feature franchise “21Country”. He is constantly on the lookout for ideas that capture the “people, places, things, and history” that makes Northeast Indiana unique. Feel free to reach out: dbeals@wpta21.com.

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