By Lauren Bolden, Owner, Pie Bar
Photo: Cody & I taught pie classes across the USA for Pie Provisions. This is in Texas. *waves cowboy hat and the crowd goes wild*By this time, you've read about Year One and Year Two, so you know what is coming next. Let's not dilly dally, and just get to it, #amiright?
Roaring fire, cozy slippers, hot toddy in the mug..you know the drill. It's story time!
We entered Year Three with big news. Cody and I had decided to start an additional company...Pie Provisions. We spent the first two years of Pie Bar fielding requests for pie recipes, tips on how to make the perfect pie crust, and stories of pie-wins and pie-struggles. We knew there were people who had a desire to connect over pie, but didn't have an outlet or platform to do so. We knew our "Why" would be those people and that through Pie Provisions we could bring them the joy of pie.
Launching Pie Provisions was nothing like launching Pie Bar. We were naive enough to think it would be a copy-and-paste type situation where "x would always equal x," but we were wrong. Pie Provisions proved to have different challenges and a different set of demands. We were no longer working one-on-one with guests but realizing that in order to grow Pie Provisions we would need to expand, and quickly. We lucked out and landed our mix in a few local big box retailers: Target and The Fresh Market.
There was an overwhelming sigh of relief only to be quickly replaced by terror. It turns out that selling your product in big box stores is tough..especially when it is something as niche as a pie crust mix.
We spent our weeks at Pie Bar and our weekends in every Target and Fresh Market within a few zip codes of us giving out free samples of pie and trying to encourage people to purchase our product.
Over the course of the year, we slowly lost those accounts.
I was ashamed that something I so strongly believed in didn't translate to others. I was horrified because I had invested so much time into a project outside of Pie Bar, and it was a failure in my eyes. I was so embarrassed that I stopped going to Target. You know that times are tough if you won't even show your face in Target.
We had launched Pie Provisions with one product, our Easy-to-Use Pie Crust Mix at the start of Year Three for Pie Bar, but what we had forgotten was that this was only Year One for Pie Provisions.
I was so blinded by the success we had seen at Pie Bar (Note to self: over the course of years!) that I could not understand why Pie Provisions was not experiencing the same growth. I blamed everyone but myself. It was the stores' fault..they put the product in the wrong location. It was the customers' fault...they weren't willing to try something new. It was Cody's fault...he didn't cut the samples the right size...but there was no way it could have been MY fault.
News Flash: It was MY fault.
I was so wrapped up in seeing our product on the shelves of well-known retailers I had forgotten the process. Pie Bar started at Year One just like every other business, how could I have been so presumptuous to assume that Pie Provisions could skip that step? I had completely forgotten the vision behind WHY WE STARTED PIE PROVISIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE. Instead of chasing retailers with heavy names, we needed to refocus on our "Why."
So we hit the road. We taught classes and showcased our pie crust mix to anyone who had even the slightest interest in pie. We drove from Georgia, to Texas, to Arizona and back. We lived off of fast food and Buc-ee's slurpees. We put in the work and it finally paid off. We were finally spending time with the right people. Our business wasn't a failure, but our business mindset was. I spent too much time chasing what would look good on our website or on social media instead of focusing on growing the right way..one year at a time.
For a while I thought Year Three of Pie Bar was overshadowed by Year One of Pie Provisions, but looking back now I realize that is just part of the journey. While Cody and I struggled to get Pie Provisions off the ground and stable, Year Three of Pie Bar was one that taught us the biggest lesson of all:
Cody and I are not Pie Bar. This shop is more than just the two of us. It is a place that can (and did!) thrive while our attention was divided..and the reason is because of our "Why" at Pie Bar...and that "Why" is our team and YOU.
Pie Provisions is operated out of our Commissary Kitchen in Kennesaw where we make lots of pie fillings, crust mixes, and jams so you can bake at home. Feel free to snag a few items to enjoy while you read about Year Four!