MOST BUSINESSES HAVE AN ONLINE PRESENCE NOWADAYS, EVEN IF THEY HAVE A BRICKS AND MORTAR SET UP TOO, BUT THE THING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA IS THAT EVERYTHING CAN LOOK SO PERFECT, SO CURATED, SO GLOSSY FROM THE OUTSIDE. I WANTED TO GET BEHIND THE CURTAIN, INSIDE THE MINDS AND INTO THE HEARTS OF SOME OF MY FAVOURITE BUSINESSES AND FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE PEOPLE THAT RUN THEM. I FIGURED IF I WAS CURIOUS TO KNOW MORE, MAYBE YOU COULD BE TOO?
WELCOME TO MY FORTNIGHTLY SERIES THE FACE BEHIND THE BUSINESS. COME BEHIND THE SCENES WITH ME, BEHIND THE PERFECT IMAGE WE SEE AT THE STORE FRONT LEVEL AND MEET SOME WONDERFUL KIWIS DOING WONDERFUL THINGS (AND LEARN THEIR SECRETS TO SUCCESS).
I distinctly recall the first time I ate an I Love Pies pie. It was at the Matakana Farmers Markets and the queue was long. I’m pretty sure I was pregnant. Pregnancy always made me crave pies – even those hideous gas station ones. Pregnancy does crazy things to ones stomach and mind right!? Anyway, make no mistake, these pies are nothing like the amazingness that is an I Love Pies pie. Maree and Jessie would probably tell you that the magic of their pies lies in the sour cream pastry that enshrines each of their creations, and while I would undoubtedly agree at one level, after asking them my questions and hearing all their answers below, I am pretty darn sure what the magic actually is stems from the love behind this business, the passion of the makers and the all round niceness of these women. Seriously, you must have heard about the importance of putting love into everything you make in the kitchen because it can be tasted? I firmly believe that’s true.
So, get comfy and cozy and ready to learn more about NZ’s favourite pie makers and the faces behind this booming kiwi business!
Questions About the business
Where did the original idea for your business come from?
Jessie and I had always worked in the food industry for large corporates mainly in new product innovation. We started to feel disillusioned with an industry that was always trying to water down their offerings by taking all the goodness out at the sake of price. Being passionate foodies, we really wanted to make products that we would be proud to give our family and friends without preservatives and other nasties. This desire only increased as we became Mums. One day we got chatting about how much we missed a good quality pie when we were both living overseas. So we got together one afternoon and baked a few for our family and friends. The response from them was so positive that we took 100 pies to our local farmers market – they sold out in under an hour and we then knew we were onto something.
What are you most proud of with the launch of your company?
The first week we started our company we wrote a list of values and those values have not changed and we are still very true to them – they hang in the entrance way of our office. Our first and most important value is to BE REAL, to create real food with real ingredients and to always be honest and open with our customers. We are both very proud that we are able to have an authentic voice.
What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
In the first 4 years of our business we had 4 children (2 each) – during these times we covered each other’s maternity leaves. It was very hard in the beginning when we had to do everything ourselves – baking, accounts, selling etc whilst having such small children to care for. In some ways though we look at it as a blessing – having our children meant we couldn’t do everything all the time so it made us really prioritise what we needed to focus on in our business and what we need to do really well to make it a success.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
We still get a real kick out of a happy customer phoning us up or sending us an email to say that our pies are delicious and that everyone in their family loves them – we love seeing that people care what goes into their food as much as we do.
Do you have plans to expand your range?
We are always thinking about the next new pie flavour as it is our passion to develop new recipes and our customers love trying new things from us.
What’s your mantra or the one piece of advice that has stuck with you through the process of starting your own business?
Stick to your knitting – work out what you are good at and maximise that, if you are not good at it, don’t do it, or outsource it to someone else.
Tell me a little about your family.
Maree: My little family consists of Frankie who is 6 and Louie who is 4 years. We also have two fur babies; Tui the cat and Tilly the dog – all together they keep us very busy. I also have a wonderfully patient and supportive husband called Brad who without I could not achieve much!
Jessie: My little girl Lulu has just started school and is thrilled about her first wiggly tooth. My 3 year old Bruno is train and car mad and believes red cars are the fastest. Ross my husband enjoys craft beers maybe a little too much and would like it if we ate pies for dinner every night. Our cat is called Steve Pusskins Stanley.
How do you juggle being a Mama and running a business?
Maree: Don’t be afraid to get help. I left it too long as I thought I could do it all myself and I only wish I got good consistent support earlier.
Sleep is King! I have never felt so tired now I’m a Mum and you are no good to anyone at work or at home if you are sleep deprived, so try to get an early night whenever you can.
Quality over quantity. Since I’ve made the decision to work and have my own business I want my time with my kids to be all about them so when I am with them I try to practise mindfulness and really be in the moment with them.
Be real. Be honest with yourself and the people around you. If you’ve had a stressful day at work let your husband/partner know. If you’re tired because you have sick kids make sure your business partner knows. We are all human and there are no prizes for being a hero.
Save some time for you – everyone says it, but is so true – schedule time in your dairy to go for a walk, get your nails done or catch up for a wine with a friend. Everyone needs a break now and then!
Jessie: Get as much support as you can – I like the mantra it takes a village to raise a family.
Plan frequent holidays.
Get regular time for yourself.
Live in the moment.
Get as much as sleep as you humanly possibly can and don’t stay up and watch late night telly!
Do you have any tips on how to make a successful business work with a young family?
Maree: Do not try to take on too much and remember your kids are only young once, so try and enjoy them as much as you can.
Jessie: Get as much support as you can and look after yourself, a happy mum definitely helps to create happy kids.
What’s your favourite (family) activity or outing?
Maree: Both my kids are passionate about cooking and baking, so often we spend time just mucking around in the kitchen. We are also big lovers of the beach so in summer we try and spend as much time as possible there.
Jessie: My family love spending time at my parents place at Pakiri beach, it’s a wild environment where there is lots of space for them to run around spend time in nature.
How do you get ‘me time’ and what do you enjoy doing to achieve that?
Maree: I am so lucky to live in a supportive community with lots of lovely Mums, so I try to catch up with my friends as much as possible, we might go to yoga or go for a walk, or I am always up for dinner and a few wines! Jessie and I also go to Pilates twice a week.
Jessie: I love doing pilates – it’s the first type of exercise I actually enjoy doing as its relaxing and doesn’t involve too much jumping up and down. I belong to a book club also – it’s a great chance to see friends, not often do we actually talk about the books but it’s an awesome way to catch up regularly and have a good natter with mates.
What words of advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business?
Maree: Have a plan, do your research but don’t over think it as you will always find reasons not to do it rather than to do it. Sometimes you just have to start somewhere and evolve your plan over time.
Jessie: Just give it a go you will learn so much, even if it doesn’t work out totally how you plan it you will always be a success in my mind just because you have tried. x
Your go to meal?
Maree: Roast chicken is always a crowd pleaser.
Jessie: One of our pies of course!
Your children’s favourite food?
Pie! Ha ha Promise this is not a lie, but our pies are always gobbled up pretty quickly!
You can find I Love Pies online via these channels, so please pay Maree & Jessie a visit:
Yipee! I Love Pies has just launched a gluten free pie – it’s Angus Beef Mince and Mozzarella and is available now in the freezer section at supermarkets. We have vouchers for six lucky winners! To be in to win, please visit my Facebook page.