Home Town, Season Three: The Mathews House

It’s funny how we always seem to find our way home. The same has proven true even for those who have been away for 30 years like Candace Keller or for those who have adventured across the world like Ebonee Johnikin. Ben stated it poetically in last week’s episode, “All roads lead to Laurel.” But for Alise, this week’s home owner, Laurel was the ultimate destination. 


Alise had always dreamed of being an entrepreneur and owning her own business. Entrepreneurship is part of her family genetics as her father owns a local and renowned Veterinary clinic and  her mother owns a well-established catering business and event center. 


Little did she know, she and her sister, Amanda, would make that dream a reality when they decided to open Shug’s Cookie Dough & Candy Bar in Downtown Laurel. 


Back in the day, large department stores in Laurel would have candy bars in their store. What once was a common place for candy stores to be has faded away with modern updates and need for more retail space. For decades, Laurel was lacking a fun space to entertain and “be a kid” in a candy shop. That’s where Alise and Amanda Mathews.


Amanda and I knew we wanted to open a business and also meet a need that wasn’t being met. We wanted to do something completely different.


Who would have thought that cookie dough and candy bar would be the key to changing everything. Inspired by their treats and experiences across the U.S., cookie dough bars and candy shops are popping up in places like New York City and San Francisco. Alise and Amanda wanted to bring that modern and sweet experience to the locals of Laurel. 


It’s fun and challenging for us. We love to cook and experiment with different flavors. We do everything in-house, which means we don’t use eggs and properly treat flour to prevent contamination. We use lots of butters and lots of love. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it when we see people come back for seconds!

 Shug’s has been one of the fastest growing companies in south Mississippi and a hit amongst locals and travelers passing through. 


I actually had a friend from Florida drive two hours out of her way to come see the store and Laurel. It’s awesome to have a way to connect with people I haven’t seen in awhile.


With every great business comes growth and challenges just below the surface. For Alise, the hardship of entrepreneurship has been met with support and advice from other local businesses and especially her sister, Amanda.


Working with my sister is the best. We are polar opposites. There’s no one that pushes you to work harder quite like your sister. But she has always had a way of bringing out the best in me. I’ll never take for granted the laughter and the tears we’ve shared in the kitchen.


Alise hopes to be an inspiration to other young professionals that come from small towns. 


For some reason, people have this notion that moving home means you’ve failed, but that’s just not true. I think you can move back to a small town and be impactful wherever you are. Moving home doesn’t mean you couldn’t “make it” somewhere else. Moving home is the opportunity to create something big for your little town.


This is just the beginning of Alise’s adventure into entrepreneurship and her beautiful new home. And an even sweeter ending to the age old stereotype for those hesitant to move home. We’ll be rooting for Shug’s and coming back for seconds! We’ll meet you there.