Spotlight On: Mimi’s Mountain Mixes
Story and photos by Jennifer Fulford
An essential ingredient for bread is flour. Mimi’s Mountain Mixes adds a few nice extras, and the combination is helping the company and the community.
Formerly a mortgage broker, Lin Carlson has grown her love of baking into a vibrant socially conscious business based in Hendersonville. Her small-batch beer bread mixes are now available regionally in nearly a hundred locations, including Ingles, Publix and Lowes Foods. The company’s first product, Old Tavern Beer Bread, is “a hearty, old fashioned, sweet, white bread,” a recipe of Carlson’s grandmother.
“My grandmother was my inspiration. She would let me get in the kitchen and dig around. Nothing was a big deal if it didn’t turn out,” Carlson says.
Mimi’s Mountain Mixes produces 16-ounce packages of pre-mixed dry ingredients for breads that require only the addition of beer. But the product is far more value-added. Mimi’s uses artisan, non-GMO flour, baking powder without aluminum, no artificial colors and no preservatives. Carlson wants her breads to stand out among competitors.
“I want this to be a product that people ooh and aah over,” she says. “And that’s what I’m getting from our clients.”
Good ingredients are just part of the business model. Mimi’s employs women in Henderson County who are at risk for homelessness and abuse. A portion of the sale of Mimi’s products is also donated to women and children’s shelters.
Carlson dedicated herself to their cause while growing into the role of entrepreneur. Being a banking professional, the recession changed her life, but her trials paled in comparison to others in need.
“One of my part-time jobs was being a house mom at a children’s shelter in Florida,” she says. “The day I arrived was the day a family of four kids got dropped off.”
Today, Carlson is president of Mimi’s, and her husband, Gene, handles local distribution. They started by selling products at farmers’ markets and local festivals before they were brave enough to approach stores. Besides several grocery chains, the product is now available in tourist shops such as those at Pisgah Inn and Chimney Rock State Park. Amazon is next.
The company sells eight types of bread mixes, including corn beer bread, Italian herb beer bread and red pepper chili beer bread. On the sweet side, Mimi’s produces beer fudge cookie mix, cinnamon spice beer bread and, Carlson’s favorite, molten fudge beer cake. This fall, the company will introduce two gluten-free products and a pancake mix.
Beer bread goes hand-in-hand with the local beer culture, which doesn’t escape Carlson. She’s baked her mixes with just about every type of lager, porter, IPA and several hard ciders. Suggestions for the right kind of beer for each mix are placed on the label. She’s even made a YouTube video of a beer tasting.
“There’s one that I made of myself on my deck drinking a porter, and I’m learning that I like these different beers,” she says, chuckling. “We’ll be doing some more fun stuff like that soon.”
This year, Mimi’s Mountain Mixes received the “Best Business Plan Award” from the Henderson County Chamber of Commerce. Mimi’s was also selected to participate in a business course this fall offered by Western Carolina University to enhance the company’s business presence and students’ real-life experiences.
Carlson just expanded her operation into a space of about 600 square feet, but her landlord has already wondered out loud if the company might outgrow that location pretty soon.
For more information visit mimismountainmixes.com. Products will be on sale at several fall festivals, including the Lake Lure Fall Festival, October 15–16. To order, call 937.380.5600.