June 7, 2014 11:02:44 PM
If you thought marshmallows were only for melting into a toasted, gooey mess on top of sweet potato casseroles at Thanksgiving, think again. Join the Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library and the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market on June 11 and step into the world of made-from-scratch gourmet marshmallows. Susan Hatch Hodge, founder and owner of Cloud 9 Artisan Marshmallows, travels from Gulfport to talk about how she turned a part-time hobby into a full-time business.
A native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Hodge worked through several careers -- forester, technology development specialist and environmental attorney -- before realizing that her true calling lay in creating unique, small-batch marshmallows.
Last summer, just as Mississippi's new Cottage Industry law went into effect, Hodge found herself between jobs. While job hunting, she started making marshmallows and selling them at the farmers' market in Pass Christian.
"Consumer reaction was very positive and the unique products really stood out. I decided it was time to try to make a real business from the marshmallows," she related.
"With guidance from a program that helps small businesses start smart, I began putting the pieces together," she continued. Now a certified food manager and selling her Cloud 9 marshmallows in more than 16 locations along the Coast, Hodge is looking forward to sharing the "dos-and-don'ts" of setting up one's own small business.
"We love to hear which flavors our customers like best and how they like to enjoy the marshmallows," she said. "Their enjoyment is the essential ingredient and the inspiration for many of our signature flavors."
"If the names honey cube, peppermint, ambrosia, Margarita, toasted coconut, strawberry, almond and magnolia blossom call out to you," said Friends member Jo Shumake, "join us for fun beyond s'mores. And, yes, Sharon will have marshmallows for sale."
Table Talks run every Wednesday in June at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, 314 Seventh St. N. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. for those wishing to bring their lunch and socialize before the program begins at noon. The Friends will serve iced tea.