August 30, 2014  

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Gulf Park Campus Alumna Offers Unique Tastes of Oil, Vinegar to Gulf Coast

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Kyla Jacobs
Kyla Jacobs, a 2013 graduate from The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park campus, pours a sample of olive oil using the “wheels down” method for a “tip and sip” tasting. Jacobs is managing her family’s new business, Pass Christian Olive Oils and Vinegars, where she has found a way to combine her academic and career interests in small business.

After Kyla Jacobs graduated from The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Park campus in May 2013, she started a career in the non-profit sector where she could use the knowledge learned from her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies. Although she had a love for non-profit organizations, only six months later, a unique opportunity became available which combined a variety of career interests Jacobs enjoys.

Shifting her career to manage her family’s new business, Pass Christian Olive Oils and Vinegars, Jacobs likes contributing to her family’s passion for olive oils and vinegars, all while using the education she obtained from Southern Miss Gulf Coast. Initially interested in earning a degree in business, Jacobs learned about the interdisciplinary studies degree program and soon changed her major to focus on non-profit organizations and child and family studies.

With Pass Christian Olive Oils and Vinegars, Jacobs feels she’s accomplishing her goals of making contributions to the local community. Working with a small business, Jacobs feels she is helping to grow a community while providing a product that contributes to the southern culture of cooking. With her experience and academic background in the non-profit sector, Jacobs is already making arrangements with local organizations for ways her business can help others.

“I may not be directly working for a non-profit organization, but I have a better understanding of small business and non-profits,” said Jacobs. “As a small business, we can be successful because businesses and non-profit organizations are all interconnected. When local business gives to non-profits, non-profits give back. Everyone is contributing to help us be successful.”

Growing up in a military family, Jacobs resided in various parts of the U.S. With her father stationed at Keesler Air Force Base, Jacobs fondest memories during adolescence were her years spent living in Pass Christian. After moving from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Jacobs vowed she would return to the South with hopes of attending school at the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus.

Her parents, Sherry and Joe Morgan, opened their first gourmet olive oil and vinegar store in Minnesota. Knowing the great opportunity and potential for a similar store on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the Morgans approached their daughter with the possibility of a second location. Jacobs, always eager to help the community she loves, accepted the task of trying to open the new business.

After finding the perfect location for their store at 141 Davis Avenue, Jacobs says they “wanted to give the Pass Christian community something different and also be surrounded by other unique and different stores.”

“The main goal we strive for in our store is to educate consumers on our product,” added Jacobs. “We want to make sure our customers know they are receiving the freshest, purest product. After touring the store, our customers discover our products are great for every day cooking and even salad dressing.”

The store offers over 40 varieties of vinegars and olive oils, with an emphasis on extra virgin olive oil. Flavors of oil include garlic, lemon and chipotle, as well as gourmet oils like black truffle. Vinegar flavors vary from black cherry balsamic to honey ginger white balsamic. All oils and vinegars are set up in-store to be taste tested using the tip and sip method.

In May, Jacobs says the store is looking forward to hosting a cooking class at Lynn Meadows Discovery Center. The class will allow attendees to explore cooking options using their store’s products.

“If I could do it all over, I would always choose Southern Miss,” said Jacobs. “They have a great support system and I feel I have to give credit to the College of Arts and Letters – particularly Susan Mullican, Lori Brommer and Dr. Allan Eickelmann – for helping encourage me to complete my degree. I love learning and being able to represent myself as a Southern Miss graduate when I’m talking to my customers.”

For more information about the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus, visit www.usm.edu/gulfcoast.