Sweet business

The combination of sweet caramel and sea salts from around the world creates hefty demand for goodie-maker Laurie Reid.

"The thing I do best is feed people," said Reid.

In March of this year the process to make indulgences for a living began in earnest as orders for her caramels came before the candy, according to Reid, who traditionally made sweets at holidays and other occasions.

An elementary school teacher in New Mexico just over a year ago, Reid found herself in Ashland with a slim job market in August of 2008, she said.

Recession woes have not hit her business, based out of her certified domestic kitchen, with boutiques and retailers throughout the Rogue Valley in Grants Pass, Jacksonville, Medford and The Enchanted Florist in Ashland carrying her treats, according to Reid.

"I think people aren't going to spend $20,000 on a new car, but they will spend $20 on candy caramel," Reid said.

Naked caramels are her best sellers, which just means they aren't covered in chocolate, she said.

"I can't keep those in stock," said Brandon Kirkland, co-owner of The Enchanted Florist with his wife Leslie Kirkland.

Brandon Kirkland operates the chocolate boutique portion of the business and says he likes to support as many local people as possible.

"When I tasted the caramel, it was the best I ever tasted," Kirkland said, going on to explain the taste of fine chocolates and how it's like wine and tastes different each year.

Customers call in before stopping by to check on the stock of Reid's sweets, said Kirkland, who's confident he keeps Reid busy with consistent orders.

"Sea salts balance the sweet of caramel. It makes people salivate," Reid said.

"Most people don't know there are thousands of different kinds of salts," Kirkland said, adding that the combination of sea salts and caramel is not something he's seen done before.

It's a handmade labor of love for Reid, who makes small batches, hand cuts and hand wraps all of her products which now include a caramel sauce, a walnut sauce and other special requests from the retailers carrying her creations.

"I plan on carrying it as long as I can," Kirkland said.

Reid has been asked to be the dessert chef for the third annual Rogue Flavor Dinner, benefitting THRIVE, this September at the Roxy Ann Vineyards. It's a five-course meal with all local chefs and local food and costs $75 per person. Information on this upcoming tasty event is available at rogueflavor.org or 488-7272.

Laurie Reid's sweets can all be ordered from her Web site www.sweetcaramels.com or stop in at The Enchanted Florist to get a candy fix at 180 E. Main St.

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