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Top 40: Heather Flathau

It may be hard to believe for some, but Heather Flathau launched her gourmet cookie company with a mere hammer and handful of peppermint candies.

Let the CEO of Flathau’s Fine Foods explain the method of her supposed madness.

“I was outside and wanted to try to combine a cookie with a snap of flavor,” said Flathau. “So, I started smashing peppermints with a hammer.”

Though that’s the short version of the story, Flathau’s invention took nearly seven months of trial and error to get her cookie recipe just right. The combination of a shortbread cookie with a candy crunch finally came to fruition.

Two Sofi Awards (think food Emmys) by the National Association of Specialty Food and an appearance on The Food Network are the proof in the pudding — or cookie — that the Atlanta native got the cookie she wanted.

Located in Petal, Flathau’s Fine Foods employs 38 and ships cookies all over the nation and overseas.  Some of her customers include national retailers Costco, Dilliards, Macy’s and several grocery store chains.

“Packaging is what sells the cookies the first time and the taste keeps them coming back for more,” Flathau said. “Our sales force meets buyers globally – marketing our product is what we do every day.”

Flathau takes great pride in the fact that her cookies are manufactured, from raw materials to finished product, in Petal.  She says her company is a family-friendly enterprise.

“Being a woman, I understand the balance of raising children and working full-time,” Flathau said. “At Flathau’s Fine Foods, employees’ hours are adjusted so that women can be home with their children and families in the evenings.”

A mother of three, Flathau volunteers her time at Sacred Heart Catholic School. A friend, Mary Louise Polk, says the businesswoman is a devoted mom and dedicated community leader.

“Heather is always willing to jump in and help at the school whenever she’s needed,” Polk said. “She coaches a recreational soccer team that not only involves her children but numerous others in the community. Heather also is a lifetime member of the Junior Auxiliary of Hattiesburg. She is an amazing role model for working women.”

Flathau says balancing her work and family life is her most significant personal accomplishment.

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