DeBrand: There’s No Place Like Home

Cathy Brand-Beere and her three daughters, Audree, Niki, Jasmine

Coming back home is a tale as old as time.

And it’s one that rings true for Cathy Brand-Beere and her three daughters.

Brand-Beere is the founder and president of DeBrand Fine Chocolates, and her three daughters, Audree Beere, Jasmine Severinac and Niki Poplin, all work with her.

It doesn’t take long to notice that Brand-Beere is very happy to have her daughters work right by her side.

It was evident by the smile she had on her face the whole time the four of them were being interviewed for this story.

And the feeling was mutually felt by all of her daughters as they spoke about how she inspires them every day.

“Growing up in the business and watching DeBrand go from something so small to become what we are now. That’s super inspirational, especially being a woman and being able to start something and make it so big. That’s very inspirational,” Severinac said.

Brand-Beere grew up in a similar situation as her daughters. Her parents had a candy-making, cake-decorating and wedding supply business. She started making wedding cakes in high school, but chocolate was always her favorite to make. She started DeBrand in 1987, and it’s turned into one of the most well-known, gourmet chocolate companies in the Midwest.

Brand-Beere didn’t set out to make it a family business, but while she and her husband, Tim, were growing the business, their kids were growing up in the business.

“I was doing what I enjoy, and I never really expected my daughters to be involved. I thought it would be nice, but I wanted them to do what they wanted to do. They all kind of did something different for a while, then they all came back. And I love it. It’s really fun for all of us to work together,” Brand-Beere said.

“She is a really good leader. She’s not one to micromanage people, which is nice. Because micromanaging and being a mom could be a struggle, but she doesn’t do that. She gives freedom and direction but is about holding people accountable and making sure things get done,” Beere, who is an operations manager, said.

Brand-Beere is also good at building up the confidence of everyone in the business. Severinac, who manages the kitchen, which includes the cooking and research and development, said her mother is always reassuring when it comes to new recipes or trying to recreate old ones.

It’s the same when it comes to the wholesale department, where Poplin works, which can be tough because it’s a lot of cold calling and rejection.

“She’s good at encouraging you not to give up because it’s hard to be in sales,” Poplin said. “You reach out to people and some might not respond or are interested, but I just keep going because of her.”

Brand-Beere has created a work environment where she makes sure everyone’s opinions are heard, their voices matter and they’re included in decisions.

“I know that people really appreciate that and it’s just a positive environment for everyone,” Severinac said.

“Creating and collaborating, those two things together are the most fun,” Brand-Beere said.

All three daughters went out on their own path, whether it was going out of state for school, working for a big corporation, waitressing or teaching. They all went away from home.

Like Brand-Beere wanted. But eventually, they all came back because there’s no place like home.

“It wasn’t fulfilling and I didn’t feel like I was doing things that were to full to my potential,” Severinac said.

“I think my favorite part about my job is that no two days are the same. It’s a lot of things going on and things popping up, which keeps me on my toes and keeps me interested and excited,” Beere said.

Outside of work, her daughters say Brand-Beere, the 2024 Brand Champion winner for NEI’s annual Pioneer Event, is a little quieter and more reserved, which is the opposite of how she is in the office. Around the building, she’s not afraid to get people going and lead the charge.

Hanging out with co-workers outside the office is different for the Brand-Beere family.

Their work life and home life tend to merge often, which is how it’s always been and will continue to be, especially with the four granddaughters Brand-Beere has.

And the granddaughters do get involved with the business. They help quite a bit during Christmas time.

More than likely, they will be around the building on Mother’s Day, while the rest of the family is making chocolate dip strawberries or Mother’s Day baskets.

“We’re super busy on Mother’s Day. That’s one of our busier days of the year,” Beere said.

Even though Sunday will be a busy day for everyone at DeBrand, Brand-Beere will be able to look out across the store and smile. Because she’s created something special. She’s created a place that customers and daughters are happy to return to.

“I just appreciate them. I appreciate them working here,” Brand-Beere said. “It’s just great to get to work with your family.”

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