TALKS FROM THE TURN ROW
The MS Delta means something a little different to everyone. When I first arrived, it seemed simple and straightforward. As time rolled on, it became more obvious to me that the Delta has many layers. Some people love the outdoors life, close to nature, while others love the earth so rich and fertile. Others crave the space it affords its residents to breathe, create, day dream. All of these things mold the fabric of our lives here and have produced people with passions for music, agriculture, politics, and art. I’ll keep exploring, learning more about my home. Its like peeling the proverbial onion.
A Mississippi Delta Road Trip- Where It All Began
By: Shelley Cresswell Walker, CEO and Founder
In the Mississippi Delta we are known for unique road trips and unexpected discoveries. Usually these road trips involve experiences like being mesmerized by our rich and fertile flatlands. These flatlands consist of varieties of landscapes and diversified crops that seem to stretch to the ends of the earth. If you visit the Mississippi Delta, you are also likely to meet unique people who have wonderful stories to share about their life of the past, present, and their hopes for the future. People travel from all over the world just to hear our music, enjoy our Southern style food, and emerge themselves into our culture.
Most people take a road trip to discover new things about an area and to expose themselves to new travel experiences to take back home with them. For the last 4 years I have been on a different type of Mississippi Delta road trip. My road trip has been different than most because I was already familiar with the area. I grew up in a small rural Delta town known as Satartia, Mississippi. At one-time Satartia was listed as one of the smallest incorporated towns in the United States. The population of Satartia was around 60 people during the time I lived there. Shortly after I graduated high school I left and went to college at Mississippi State University. The education and student leadership experience gained there has pretty much set the path for my entire life and professional career. After a diverse career in higher education, manufacturing operations, workforce education, and business consulting I followed my heart and took a leap of faith.
In 2014 my road trip back to my home region began. My two children and I were riding in my car driving to the final hill before we went straight down into the flatlands outside of Greenwood, Mississippi. I can remember my daughter asking me what we were doing. She stated that we must be going to Greenwood because everything looked so GREEN with all the farm crops around us! I told her that I did not know what we were doing in Greenwood right now other than I knew we had been sent there to make a difference.
Greenwood was a great first stop for me. I learned so many transferable job skills working with several local companies and city entities. Any opportunity that presented itself where I felt I could make a positive difference I would take on the challenge and jump in ready to learn and grow. During my time there I had the opportunity to meet so many great people. I learned even more about manufacturing operations, leadership development, and was introduced to the hospitality Industry. After serving in those roles until I felt each mission and purpose was completed, I accepted an opportunity to serve on a hotel development team in Cleveland, Mississippi. My family then moved to our next calling and mission.
Explaining to people that you have accepted job roles because you truly felt lead to do so is interesting and most of the time difficult to understand. So, most of the time I don’t try to explain it. I just wake up every morning and stay focused on the bigger vision of this world. As of today, I am balancing working with the new hotel development and beginning my journey with Mississippi Mo Joe Coffee Company.
Even though my days are filled with my full-time job, I just felt like I was meant to do something else that would combine all my skills and talents as well as utilizing my husband’s skills and talents. So, we began to pull together several visions and concepts I had started developing several years ago. We are both from the Mississippi Delta and knew that we wanted to honor what leadership development opportunities had done for us personally and honor the mentors that had been on the journey with us along the way. I am obsessed with coffee and feel it is a beverage that most people drink daily, or they know someone who enjoys this relaxing and flavorful beverage.
Our plan was to develop a specialty quality coffee line that would showcase the Mississippi Delta as well as give back to education initiatives that would benefit our future business and community leaders. I figured if I could understand how to manufacture plywood and power tools from my previous background, then I could figure out how to make all of this happen. One day my husband came home and our whole entire house was smoked up from all the coffee I had roasted in a vintage popcorn air popper. With each roast and taste test, I began to finalize the flavors and aromas I wanted to represent our platform. To make this experience even more special I brewed each cup with my grandmother’s vintage percolator coffee pot. My dad had given the coffee pot to me to remember her by since she had passed several years ago.
My husband and I have now partnered with a Mississippi Roaster to assist with our production and take our business to next level. Our family has already been humbled by the support and coffee orders that have been placed during this holiday season. Our children have been a part of the packaging and delivery operations. They are learning firsthand what it takes to be a business leader and give back to others. All Mississippi Mo Joe coffee products are roasted and packaged in Mississippi. We look forward to getting to know each of our customers as our business develops and grows. Every bag of the four roasts within the “Soulful Sounds … Delta Grounds” coffee line gives a portion of proceeds back to the entertainment and agriculture industry education. We hope this coffee line is the first of many that we will develop to assist the next generation of leaders in our State.