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Posted on June 13, 2013 by Sally Mesarosh
A life-long interest in health and food led Melissa Seil-Webb to Mesa Community College’s Sustainable Food Systems program. A little more than a year after earning her certificate in that program, she has started her own business. Seil-Webb sells Iss’s Magic Mixes, described as “oatmeal with a kick,” at farmer’s markets, on her website and at local health food stores.
“Our products have really taken off,” Seil-Webb said. “At our first farmer’s market we sold out. I wasn’t expecting that at all and wasn’t expecting to have people run back to the booth with their friends to try it.”
The mixes are designed to help lower high blood pressure, help regulate blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight. In addition to the oatmeal mixes, the company sells Maca Energy Bars. Maca powder regulates metabolism, growth, attitude, energy levels, sexual development and a sense of well-being. Oh, and, not a minor point, they taste great as well!
Seil-Webb originally set out to earn a degree as a registered dietician, but when she heard about MCC’s Sustainable Food Systems program, she decided to enroll in conjunction with getting her pre-dietetic classes completed. The program provided her with a broad array of knowledge. She learned about creating more sustainable ways of how food is grown, purchased, prepared and consumed.
“I’m glad I have my certification,” Seil-Webb said. “For me, it was really pivotal to feel confident enough to be able to go forward and do what I’m doing now with my oatmeal company.
“Part of my internship that I did was me actually starting this company, which was perfect. I was able to take the inception of this company and turn it into my internship.”
Seil-Webb said MCC instructors were extremely helpful.
“Lori Zienkewicz, Maureen Zimmerman and Sue Thomas were super supportive,” Seil-Webb said. “Lori gave me advice on how to protect my product…they taught me how to understand the farmer’s market world… and Maureen even emailed me information about a new cottage law to make confectionary and non-hazardous goods in my home.”
Zimmerman said Seil-Webb was part of the inspiration to develop a new course, Food Entrepreneurship. The feedback received from Seil-Webb and other students are helping to shape the program.
"We respond to student feedback," Zimmerman said. "Because Melissa wanted to start a business and had many questions, we realized that our program did not provide the knowledge and skills to start a small-scale food business, yet that is one of our major goals--for students to go out and stimulate the local economy with new jobs that never existed."
Seil-Webb said she feels fortunate she has been able to start slow and not go into debt, accumulating equipment in preparation for opening her own commercial kitchen. She is amazed by the success of her company.
“I am so grateful to these instructors for supporting me,” Seil-Webb said. “Their intent is in the right place. I want people to know they can be a functioning, viable part of the community by taking this program. That’s what I want more than anything.”
Iss’s Magic Mix website: http://issmix.com/
MCC Sustainable Food Program:
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Mesa Community College provides outstanding transfer and career and technical programs, workforce development, and life-long learning opportunities to residents of the East Valley area of Phoenix, Arizona. MCC excels in teaching, learning and empowering its more than 40,000 students to succeed in a local and global community. Mesa Community College is one of ten colleges that comprise the Maricopa County Community College District.
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