This post comes from Ally in our DC store! You can follow along with her at @westelmdc.
When the doors to our new DC store opened earlier this year, we got to meet local baker + entrepreneur Teeny Lamothe from Teeny Pies.
We asked her to share her advice on how to win the baking business, discovered how she got started and took a look inside her own kitchen!
What inspired you to start baking pies?
I grew up baking pies alongside my mom. We were very much a pie household, with my brother and I asking for birthday pies rather than cake. Baking became a way to relax on the weekends and was a good excuse to have friends over to share a slice or two. When I started baking three or four pies a week, I began to wonder about my future with my favorite pastry and eventually found I believed in it enough to leave my life in Chicago and see where pie would take me.
You recently spent a year apprenticing with lady bakers and small business owners across the country. Tell us about that experience.
I always knew I wanted to specialize in pie, and for me that meant apprenticing with the women who knew how to do it best. I reached out to a dozen pie shop owners and ended up cobbling together a year long apprenticing tour! I lived in each place a month at a time, baked in borrowed kitchens and began to learn the art of baking in bulk and small business owning. I was meeting phenomenal women who quickly became mentors, learning what it meant to bake on a professional level and gaining more confidence and knowledge with every stop. I was occasionally homesick and fairly often terrified, but came to understand that the disappointment and heartache I would feel if I gave up the adventure trumped any brief misgivings. By keeping the idea of finding a place for myself within the baking community forefront in my mind, I was able to overcome the worry of the unknown and accomplish some truly wonderful things.
What are two pieces of advice for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps and start their own baking business?
Learn as much as possible. I am still learning every single day what it means to be a business owner; I don’t think that ever stops. As soon as you become comfortable, it’s time to try something new or push yourself just a little bit further. Sometimes that can be exhausting, so you definitely have to acknowledge the victories and the successes. Avoid complacency, which is something I have to work at every day. Also, find yourself a friend who loves pie and is good at math… you can pay them in pie to be your accountant!
Where is your workspace? Can you tell us a bit about it?
I bake out of a communal kitchen called Union Kitchen. There are about 50 small businesses with food entrepreneurs that work out of this once space and it makes for a wild and fast-paced workspace. It’s really nice being able to commiserate and celebrate with people who are in a very similar situation and be able to bounce ideas off of people who know and respect your product. It’s definitely motivational to be surrounded by such a striving energy all the time!
Finish the sentence. The most fulfilling part of being a lady baker is…
…waking up every morning and doing what I love!
Photo credit: Leah Puttkammer of Gray Kammera Photography