By Carol Miemi
Family Travails Sparks Susansnaps
A Dunwoody mother and daughter recently turned family tragedy into triumph when they opened Susansnaps – a bakery and sweetshop they own and run together.
Walk through the door of their business, and you are in pure confection. From the hand-painted walls, floors and furniture to the aroma of gingersnaps that fills the air, the look and feel are of an old-fashioned 1940s sweet shop combined with the stylish flair of sophisticated upscale graphic design.
On the walls of the bright little shop are giant stripes and polka dots of red, white and black. The vintage look is enhanced by the round oilcloth floor covering in the center of the shop, painted in tiny multi-colored dots. Upon this mat rests a stack of round flea-market tables, painted in white and decorated to look like a giant three-tiered wedding cake. A shelf along one wall is adorned by a row of hatboxes, fancifully decorated to look like all the scrumptious cakes made by the ladies of Susansnaps.
Other tables and shelves display the thematic packaging in which the gingersnaps are available – maternity, babies, holidays, get-well and cancer therapy.
And here is where the story actually begins. Laura Carver Stachler and her daughter, Susan Robbins, had more than just a love of sweets in mind when they opened Susansnaps.
In 1977, Laura’s sister, Susan, died of Hodgkin’s disease at the age of 28. In 2003, Laura’s husband began treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And incredibly, a year later, Laura’s daughter, Susan, who was named for Laura’s sister, was herself diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease a week before her Auburn graduation.
Thus began for the Stachler family two and a half years of chemotherapy. As Laura sat in the treatment center with her husband and daughter and watched countless other cancer patients, she felt the need to do something.
She turned to what she knew best – baking. Since she knew ginger had been used for centuries to calm upset stomachs, she created “the ultimate gingersnap” – filled with old-fashioned spices and dark molasses, topped with sparking sugar crystals.
Both the Stachler patients recovered. And for five years, Laura and Susan made their cookies and fancy cakes in a commercial kitchen they built in an extra building on their property on Spalding Drive.
They built their customer base through word of mouth and their website.
Along the way, they named their business Susansnaps and developed the three types of gingersnaps that form their core business today – original, cocoa and citrus – as well as a variety of gourmet cakes. Everything they make is handmade, natural and fresh. Even their packing “popcorn” is organic and recyclable.
As business co-owners, they divide their responsibilities according to their abilities. While Laura works on the recipes, Susan develops all the graphics. Together, they both do all the shopping, baking, order-taking and packaging.
Susansnaps, however, is more than just a fancy little bakery. Laura and Susan donate 10 percent of their profits to the Susan Carver Foundation, named for Laura’s sister. The foundation sends half to the National Cancer Institute for genetic cancer research and uses the other half to provide gift packages to patients undergoing chemotherapy during the holidays.
The opening of the shop is the fulfillment of their dream to bring the happiness of their cookies to more people. Today they ship their colorful gift packages throughout the U.S. Customers can purchase by calling the shop at (404) 497-9210, emailing through the website www.susansnaps.com or visiting at 229 Hilderbrand Drive in Sandy Springs. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday