Susan Olmsted | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Susan Olmsted

Photo by Imani Khayyam.

Cathead Distillery Marketing Manager Susan Olmsted says one of the reasons she has always been drawn to small business is because the people in it have to rely on each other more than in larger businesses.

"It gives you a little bit more of responsibility, too, just because a lot more is expected of you," she says.

The Hattiesburg native went to the University of Mississippi, receiving her bachelor's degree in dietetics and nutrition in 2010. She moved to Jackson and began working for Brandon medical-supply company Total Health Care Solutions.

In 2012, Olmsted moved to Charleston, S.C. for her husband Blake's job and began working for clothing designer Billy Reid. Through doing events for the designer, who was a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi, she got to know regional and local chefs, and also met Sanders Monsees, a Cathead Distillery sales representative for South Carolina. As she worked more and more with Monsees for events, she got to know the brand.

"When I found out I was moving back to Mississippi, I called Sanders ... and said 'Look, this is a really cool company, and it's something that I want to be a part of,'" she says. "... It really wasn't necessarily the vodka industry as much as it was the SFA environment," Olmsted says.

"I really didn't want to move or leave Charleston, so it was really about finding that common denominator that connected me to the people that I had known and grown to love in Charleston that were all part of the SFA, and it connected me to (Austin Evans and Richard Patrick, owners of Cathead), and they were also part of the SFA, so it allowed me to keep the same base and group of people that I loved while moving states and starting a new job."

Olmsted, 28, jokes that her job title means "anything goes."

"Everyone wears a lot of hats in this company," she says. As the distillery's marketing manager, her primary job duties are handling events, tours and tastings, and anything else that has to happen in or around the building.

Olmsted says that moving from Gluckstadt to downtown Jackson has increased Cathead's exposure to both Jackson and the 14 states the company targets.

"Really, being in this space and allowing people to come in and see it and feel it and get to know us, who we are as a company and a brand ... it forms some sort of attachment," she says. "People feel like they're a part of it once they've been here."

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