Sweet Expectations: A Recipe For Success

In the darkest period of her life, Michele Hoskins found inspiration from a family recipe and created a multimillion-dollar company.

late eighties. She didn’t have a lot of the convenience foods that we have now.

And our family traditions of having fresh, hot, honey cream syrup went right along with that. It was just something that was always there. When I was growing up, my grandmother was alive. We would go to my grandmother’s house, and she would talk about her mother giving her the recipe. So it was a family tradition. And being a family tradition, it was often talked about.

Everyone talked about honey cream syrup. As I grew, I came to take great pride in this family recipe — not a lot of African Americans have anything from their ancestors that far back. But like most of the family, I had only consumed the syrup over family breakfasts. I didn’t know how to make it. My mother had gotten the recipe from her mother because she was the third daughter. Well, I was the only daughter in my immediate family. I was not supposed to be let in on the secret. But for a long time, I was curious about that recipe. I would always ask my mother to share it with me. She would say, “I’m still alive. I’m cooking with it. Don’t worry about it.”

I had eventually persuaded her to let me “hold” the recipe for my own third daughter, Keisha. So I was accustomed to making the syrup, too. I would make it and invite people over for breakfast. They would always say how good it was.

So after I had read this article that said women would rise in the 1980s, and decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur, it occurred to me that the syrup was good enough to market. The tradition had been to pass down the recipe to every third daughter. I thought, “I could hand my girls a business instead. That would be a better legacy than a recipe.”

This is where the process of Michele Foods Inc., started. It started at one of the lowest points in my life. I was going through divorce. I was unhappy in my job. I had three small children to care for. I was young — just going into my thirties. I didn’t know anything about what I was about to do. But I was going to be doing what I wanted with my life finally. I had done everything everybody else wanted me to do. As a child, I had gone to Catholic churches and schools. I had gone to college. I had gotten married and had children. I had
worked jobs that were unsatisfying. And all the time, I had felt that I was in bondage. So it’s ironic that the legacy started by a slave woman, my ancestor, would help to liberate me. But at this point, all I had was this recipe, the passion to do this, and growing faith in myself. I did not have the business experience to go with it. I did not know anybody who

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