Party Puffs

By Molly Nagappala | Photos Courtesy Kat Wegrzyniak of Double You Photography and Amanda Vick of Amanda Vick CR

It may have been Sugarsmith Madison creator Jo Mahnke’s destiny to launch a vintage-themed cotton candy cart business. She was, believe it or not, born on National Cotton Candy Day. Since February, Mahnke has been seen around town at corporate events, graduation parties and nonprofit functions with her pastel-festooned machine spinning sweet treats for the young and the young at heart. This differentiates her from the various food carts found on Library Mall or around the city’s office parks; Mahnke’s business model is based on contracting with organizations to hand out cotton candy at special events. A background in marketing and children’s ministries at church gave Mahnke the perfect foundation for starting a business primarily aimed at kids. Throw in her penchant for bright colors, nostalgia and a side gig selling party decor on Etsy, and she was well situated to begin. When asked how she wants Sugarsmith to grow, Mahnke’s face lights up and she admits, “I’ve wanted a storefront since I was a little girl.” Inspiring festivity is clearly her gift. “It’s like giving away presents,” Mahnke says of her business. “I get to give joy and happiness to people.”

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