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C.J.’s Southern Seasonings and Simply Southern Pies, Cakes and Cupcakes

Taylorsville, MS

1.  What inspired you to choose to start this particular business?

I have always loved cooking and entertaining people with good food and good times. And, I love mixing creative seasonings! We were always asked when hosting an event, “Why don’t you sell this stuff? This is the best fried fish in the world!”

So, we created a mobile concession trailer in 2002 to share and sell our fried catfish when we were in Texas. The secret really was in our seasoning bags, so when we relocated to MS, we decided to market and sell our seasoning package. Our first retail client was Mayders and Tayders in Seminary, MS. Now we are in over 100 stores in 4 states, including Ramey’s, Kroger, Corner Market, many “Mom and Pop” retail outlets, and we’re still growing!

2. Explain your business, and what is special or unique about it.

Pictured from left: Rita Mitchell (USM MSBDC) & Joan Anderson

Carefully selected spices blended by hand for unique flavor, and created to be just enough seasoning to enhance the fish or meat … but not overwhelm it. That, plus the ease of use … just pat dry the extra moisture from your fish, chicken or meat, sprinkle on liberally, then fry or cook. Then let the magic begin!

Our seasonings are sold in transparent bags and bottles, with no hidden or unhealthy ingredients… just the good stuff!

3.What was your biggest challenge on the path to entrepreneurship?

When I first came to the USM SBDC, I thought I wanted to have a small fish café within a local produce and specialty store. After much math, family and feasibility conversation, we decided to market our seasonings first, to build C.J.’s brand awareness and create excitement. The huge initial growth showed us that THIS was our calling.

4. What was the most helpful resource / piece of advice / workshop at the MSBDC in your opinion and how did it help you?

The ease of getting advice, the workshops for business practices, the intense listening and feedback, all the resources and the

continuing help to make C.J.’s soar. The USM SBDC advice and guidance allowed us to grow without a huge investment or loan … and to grow at our own pace.

5. What did you learn at the MSBDC that surprised you?

That everything came to us at no charge! Also, the professional level of the advice and information, and the quick response to questions and requests.

6. Would you suggest the MSBDC’s services to other entrepreneurs?

I always do now, always have and always will! It’s the best business information and the most current – all at NO CHARGE!

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