When 32 year-old Maggie Sanders was younger, some of her fondest memories were spent with her grandma, baking and cooking. Little did she know that these experiences would lead to opening her own business, Mimi’s Sweet Shop, decades later.
“I started working in retail when I was a junior in high school. That was my first job and I really liked it,” Sanders said. “I’m a big people person and throughout all of my experiences in retail, I really found a love for customer service.”
After high school, the Lansing native went to Saginaw Valley State University and later returned home to Lansing Community College, studying political science. She interned with the House of Representatives, but realized politics wasn’t her calling.
“I probably would have been a great lawyer,” she said. “Because I can argue to no end. I just don’t think that would have fulfilled me.”
“I always wanted my own business,” Sanders said. “But my dad really wanted me to go to law school. I didn’t want to go to law school, I never conformed to anything. I kind of always went by the seat of my pants and did whatever I wanted to do at the time.”
After being inspired by her grandmother’s love for sweets, baking and cooking, Sanders looked to open a diner, serving her grandmother’s recipes. After more research, and help from her dad, Ed Rodgers, she decided a sweet shop would provide the best of both worlds: more candy, coffee, ice cream, milkshakes, hot fudge sundaes and less pressure than a full-blown restaurant. Mimi’s Sweet Shop opened in Lansing’s The Heights at Eastwood, behind Eastwood Towne Center and NCG cinema, in May of 2016.
The business focuses on Michigan-made products and sells and uses Michigan-based suppliers for the shop, including Faygo soda, Bettermade potato chips, Everfresh juices, Quality Dairy milk, Paramount Coffee and more. For Mimi’s Sweet Shop, it’s important to use as much as possible from Michigan.
Of course, it’s no easy task to manage a new business, let alone keeping a happy husband and kids entertained, all while going to school full-time at Central Michigan University.
“People call me crazy,” she said. “It’s a good craziness, and I feel like I thrive in craziness. I feel like if I’m stagnant, I don’t do good. I have to be busy, I have to have something to focus on, or multiple things to focus on.”
Despite the busy lifestyle, it’s a life Sanders is happy to share with her supportive family unit. Her advice to budding entrepreneurs and business owners is to put in the work.
“If you have a good idea, run with it; do it,” she said. “The one thing I would say is don’t quit. It’s really easy to give up on something.”
She said the work, the constant daily lessons learned and smiling friendly customers make all of the effort worth it.
“Most people who come in here end up leaving with a smile on their faces, which makes me happy,” she said.