GivinG it the
Former Manistee resident creates company tomarket gourmet oils for dipping bread
The “personal touch” is put into each bottle of dipping oil as Jonas measures outall the ingredients by hand.
Susan Jonas is a businesswoman whobelieves the “personal touch” is somethingthat still makes a difference. A little more than a decade ago, Jonasstarted the Little Dipper Company thatfeatures gourmet oils used for dippingbread and drizzling over pasta. It was anendeavor that was sparked in the mostunique way, and one that has grown toinclude her product being sold in 125stores in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio,Texas, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Iowa.Jonas graduated from ManisteeHigh School and is the daughter of localresidents Bart and Connie Erickson. Shelearned early the importance of havinga “personal touch” when it came to thebusiness world as a teenager by workingin Erickson’s Pharmacy that was owned by her father.“I came from a retail background withmy Dad at the pharmacy for many years,”said Jonas. “I then went to and graduatedfrom Hillsdale College with a businessdegree.”Following college, Jonas worked in theretail world for years including being anassistant buyer for The Limited. Along theway, she married her husband, Michael,and the couple had two sons, Collin andBrendan. It also meant she made the deci-sion to go from being in the grind of thebusiness world to taking on the importantrole of a stay-at-home mother.“Back in 2000, both of my kids were inschool and my husband asked me one day ‘when are you going back to work?’” saidJonas. “I said that I didn’t want to get back into the rat race of retail. When I was anassistant buyer for The Limited, it meanttravel and being away from my family.”
A new idea
During the 2000 Christmas season,something happened that really changedeverything and provided the spark for theLittle Dipper Company. Jonas decided she wanted to do something special in termsof a gift idea for neighbors and teachers atthe school her sons attended.“We had always made this Spicy Italiandipping oil here at home and I thought it would be kind of neat to give it as a gift,”said Jonas. “I did my own labels up on thecomputer, and purchased some bottlesfrom a local store to make it. When I gaveit to the neighbors to try they said ‘this isgreat and you should package and sell it.’ Ithought about it, but I just didn’t know if Ishould do it.”It was then when an unfortunate expe-rience hit the family, like many othershave faced in the past few years, with theeconomic downswing.“My husband was in the computersoftware industry and they pulled out of Cincinnati, so I thought maybe this is asign that I should do something,” saidJonas. “So, I researched high and low and worked with the Ohio Department of Agriculture to make sure all that we weredoing was legitimate. I also had the prod-uct tested at Ohio State University.”Her husband took the oil out to marketit, and landed four accounts in the firstday. Jonas said that provided incentive, but there was one thing the retailers werelooking for that she couldn’t offer at thattime.“They liked it a lot, but they said it hadone problem in that they wanted morethan the one flavor of Spicy Italian,” saidJonas. “I started creating other flavors,and they are all unique to the Little DipperCompany.“My husband and I had gone toCalifornia and did a Napa Valley Wine
“i started creatng other fla- vors, and they are all unqueto the Lttle Dpper Company.”
OWNER, LITTLE DIPPER COMPANY
Sunday, February 12, 2012 • www.westshoreshoppersguide.comCopyright©2012
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