By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Region – By her own admission, Louise Mawhinney did not know anything about candy production when she bought the iconic Sky Bar at a bankruptcy auction in 2018 from the now defunct New England Confectionery Company.
But what Mawhinney did have was years of corporate experience, an entrepreneurial spirit and an adventurous attitude.
At the Feb. 11 Corridor Nine/495 Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Business Forward Females (BFF) luncheon held at Cyprian Keyes in Boylston, Mawhinney regaled the nearly 100 attendees with stories of how she started off her career as a Russian translator for the British government to her current day role as the owner of the retail store Duck Soup in Sudbury as well as Sky Bar’s new owner.
It was after she got a degree in Russian and Moral Philosophy at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and then her position as a translator, that she decided that was not what she wanted to do with her life. In the ensuing years, she got a job with an accounting firm, “in spite of not having any practical experience in that field,” she laughed.
“I quickly fell in love with businesses and how they worked,” she said.
She rose through the ranks, eventually becoming chief financial officer at a number of bio tech companies.
Duck Soup’s original owners were going to retire and close the store. So she decided to buy it.
“I was kind of dropped into the deep end, but I loved it,” she said.
In September of 2018, she heard that there was to be an online auction for Sky Bar. Knowing that many of her customers were upset that the candy bar would no longer be produced, she decided to bid on it.
“I was surprised when I won the bid,” she said. “I asked myself ‘Oh my gosh, what have I gotten myself into?’”
Since taking over production of Sky Bar in a space next to Duck Soup, Mawhinney has welcomed fans of all ages who have come to watch it being made.
“People have such a connection to this candy,” she said, adding that some have been in tears as they recall how it played a part in their lives.
“I never thought I’d ever have any of this stuff happen in my life,” Mawhinney told the audience. “But when opportunities come along…why not try?”
For more information on BFF visit www.corridornine.org.