Imagine being 6 years old and going to a birthday party where you can’t eat the cake, or the cookies. All the other kids can eat all the goodies. You can’t eat anything because you are allergic to gluten [or dairy] and you don’t want to have to go to the hospital.
Suzy Darrah, of Myrtle Beach SC, mom to two boys, ages 11 and 8, saw that happening at birthday parties not long ago, and decided to do something about it. She started a specialty bakery called Hippienut, making gluten-free and/or dairy-free or sugar-free cakes, cupcakes, muffins, etc. for children and grown folks whose restrictive diets prevent them from enjoying most baked goods.
Suzy was an experienced baker. She had started learning the business when she was a new bride years ago. “I started a baking business called Sweet & Savory and the moms were asking me to make cakes for their kids’ birthdays. Then I was making cakes for restaurants on Pawley’s Island. I was doing well and had a big customer base on Pawley’s Islands.” By that time she knew baking. “When I was pregnant the first time I had just gotten married and I was bored out of my mind and I started working at my friend’s bakery, Crady’s in Conway [now a restaurant]. My mom was a big baker, and I learned a lot at Crady’s from Barbara, my friend’s mother.”
She didn’t start off her professional career as a baker. “I was a coastal geologist. I worked on the Hunley – helped dig it out and get the bones out. I was a scientific diver for a while. I also taught scuba diving.” That life was not conducive to raising kids, however, so she turned to baking.
Before I started my usual Twenty Questions, I wanted to find out more about Suzy and her business. [Full disclosure - I know Suzy because she is the girlfriend of my cousin Michael Hasty.]
How long have you lived in Myrtle Beach? I grew up here. I lived in Marathon for a while. Had a scuba shop and taught diving here. You can’t be on a boat for a week at a time when you have two little ones. My boys are 11 and 8.
What inspired Hippienut? My son had friends who couldn’t eat gluten or dairy and they never had fun snacks. I started fooling around with recipes trying to come up with fun and healthy snacks. I was playing around with recipes for a year and a half. They had a holiday market at The Market Common in November and I was told by a representative that “We need someone like you because you’re all organic, and can do gluten free and dairy free..” I was already really busy and didn’t think I could do it but I didn’t want to lose my spot to another vendor so I said OK.
When did you start the company? Last November 2015. Michael came up with my logo and labels, and he’s great at it. [You can see more of his great design work over at Inkhaus]
We’re still working on the Hippienut website.
Where did you get the name? Michael came up with the name and logo. It was a nickname for a kid we went to high school with. We went to Myrtle Beach high school together, although Michael was a year ahead of me.
How are you selling your products right now?
What’s your favorite recipe and why?
There are so many naturally sweet things you can add to make things good. My blueberry oat muffins are very popular and very moist.. I soak my oats in orange juice.
What makes your products different from other gluten-free products? With all my recipes, I like to keep things as natural as possible as far as what goes in – everything in its natural state. All of my ingredients are as natural and unrefined as we can be.
You make gluten-free [or dairy-free] special occasion cakes too?
I do a lot of character cakes, wedding cakes. I’ve done a lot of dairy-free stuff too.
I make my own flour mix. The best one you can buy commercially is Bob’s Red Mill. The flours, a lot of them are just too starchy, and I come up with different combinations.
What is your full name?
Suzanne Gail Darrah. That’s my maiden name
Where would you live, if you could live anywhere in the world?
I would probably live on the south end part of the creek in Murrell’s Inlet. I love a creek. I can see the ocean and I can smell the pluff mud.
What is your favorite movie and why?
I’m old school and my favorite movie would be The Private Eyes with Don Knotts and Tim Conway.
What was your least-favorite subject in school when you were a kid?
It was probably English. I love to read. I didn’t like grammar, though, diagramming sentences.
What was your nickname when you were a kid?
Sunshine. Actually people still call me Sunshine.
Do you believe in God?
Actually I don’t believe in God but I don’t talk about it because it makes other people uncomfortable.
What sound or noise do you love?
I love the sound of bubbles underwater. I love to sit underwater and hear the sound of water moving.
If you could do anything other than what you do, as a profession, what would it be?
I would work on a research ship somewhere and be doing scientific diving – what I used to do. It’s just impossible to do that and be a single mom.
If heaven exists, what do you think it is like?
I think there’s energy but I don’t know what it is.
Do you have siblings?
I have two older brothers, one is 8 years older and one is 6 years older. One is a detective and one sells cars.
What is your favorite memory of childhood [something specific]?
I love dinner time. We’d talk about our day. My mom was a stay at home mom and every night we had dinner together. My oldest brother was the funny guy. Every single night one of my brothers would spit milk through his nose, from laughing.
If you had to choose between one week traveling around the USA by car, or one week traveling around Europe on a train, which would you choose and why?
I would probably do the USA by car first. That’s what I want to do the most, only because I love our country and its beauty, and there are so many place I haven’t seen. I love a road trip, not being on a schedule.
What or who inspires you?
That’s a changer for me it’s changed over the years. My kids inspire me every day. I’m a mom and I’m biased but my kids are just amazing. They are smart and kind and hilarious. I love being around them.
Which holiday do you prefer, Christmas or July 4th?
I like Christmas. Everybody’s home and we make stuff and I bake whole lot. I like the feel of Christmas.
What project or idea are you most passionate about, right now? Right now I’m focused on getting the snacks into the backpack buddy program. The Backpack Buddy program is great – stores donate food. There are snacks for kids who may not have food, like on the weekends and school holidays when they can’t get the free school lunches. They get stuff like Doritos and fruit rollups in the backpacks. My goal is to get Hippienut into those backpacks. The kids love them, so far. I want things to taste better to children so they want to eat them. I have another little project I want to do eventually - make cakes for kids in Ronald McDonald houses. You know they can’t have certain foods.
Do you know how to cook? Yes! I know how to bake better than regular cooking. I have to have a recipe for regular [non-baked foods].
What is your favorite thing to cook/eat?
I love to go to a southern cooking buffets and eat things like fried chicken..
If you could go on vacation anywhere in the world, for 2-4 weeks, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
I would probably go to Micronesia, Pulau, work my way around those islands – see the underwater stuff.
Who do you love the most in the world?
My children. That’s an easy one. My kids are fun. I enjoy hanging out with them!
What question has nobody ever asked you, but you wanted to answer? May I mop your floors and fold your laundry for you today? [that's a question we'd ALL like to hear!]