By Kathleen J. Whaley
Snappy Days: After facing the same illness in back-to-back generations, a Georgia mother and daughter set their course to “give a snap…see a smile.”
True-life steel magnolias Laura Stachler and Susan Carver Robbins exemplify the character of many Southern women: Through good times and bad, do what you can, and do it well. In their recently opened storefront on the outskirts of Atlanta, the mother-daughter duo work side-by-side to make their signature gingersnaps. Each day they bake 8,000 cookies, place them in chic packaging, and prepare them for shipping across the country. “It’s like poetry in motion,” says Laura, who pauses from cutting Christmas ribbons long enough to exchange grins with daughter Susan.
“People love the product and the packaging,” Laura continues, “but what they really respond to is the story.” The story starts with Laura’s sister and Susan’s namesake, Susan Carver Smith, who passed away from Hodgkin’s disease at age 28. Nearly three decades later, just before graduating from Auburn University, the younger Susan was also diagnosed with Hodgkin’s. Over the next few months, Laura-whose husband required treatments for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma around the same time- sat by through numerous rounds of chemotherapy.
In hopes of lifting her family’s spirits and helping in a tangible way, Laura, a professional baker, used her talents to develop the ultimate gingersnap. The ginger served as a natural stomach soother to her husband and daughter, while flavorful, dark molasses imparted an irresistible taste. Featuring just the right combination of spice and crunch, the snaps soon garnered attention beyond the close-knit Stachler family. “It slowly unfolded,” says Susan, who put her doodling skills to work and began designing logos for the packaging. “At first, we thought, ‘We’ll do this for 6 months, and then I’ll get a real job.'”
Several years, three flavors, and a storefront later, the cookies that Laura named “Susansnaps” in memory of her sister and in honor of her daughter keep the pair plenty busy with real jobs- plus they’re making a real difference. A portion of all Susansnaps’ sales benefit The Susan Carver Foundation, which supports cancer research, specifically genetic studies. The Foundation places equal importance on cancer patient gifts and donates gingersnap gift bags to those undergoing treatment during the holidays. Susan, now a 6-year survivor, is quick to acknowledge that cookies won’t save the world. But she and mom Laura still pursue their mission with comparable fervor. As Susan knows firsthand, “It’s good to make people smile.”