Shut Ur Pie Hole Bakes its Way into U.S. Market
By Robyn Finlay
With an unforgettable name and a winning recipe, it’s no wonder Shut Ur Pie Hole keeps getting orders for a piece of the pie.
Heather Daymond’s pie recipe was passed down from her mother and grandmother. Today the Winnipeg business owner has turned that recipe into a unique business concept—pies in jars—that is attracting more than just dessert lovers and foodies. In 2016 Daymond was approached by the Emmy Awards and the Food Network, wanting a taste.
(Photo: Ian Mclausland)
“When I was in school, I would go places and you could never order a piece of pie that was great. You think you’re going to get a really great dessert and then you think, I can make a better pie than this,” says Daymond, who later realized that with her family’s recipe, she could make a business selling individual pies in mason jars. Daymond comes from a large family of farmers whom she says inspired her own “entrepreneurial spirit and determination.”
In 2014 on International Pi Day—March 14 (as in the mathematical 3.14)—Daymond officially turned her hobby into a business and launched her company. Shut Ur Pie Hole is now selling its pies across Canada and exporting to the United States.
Daymond’s approach to business continues to spur new ideas. This year, she plans to promote her business during Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations with raisin butter tarts soaked in Canadian maple whiskey—a true Canadian delicacy, she says.
Daymond is particularly passionate about her new project to create an “ability” kitchen to accommodate employees with various forms of disabilities. The idea came to her when her mother—who has a disability—mentioned it can be more difficult to work when living with a disability. The wheelchair-accessible kitchen will include hydraulics that will enable people to work on surfaces at various heights, along with accommodating services and flexible work hours.
Heather Daymond, owner of Shut Ur Pie Hole
(Photo: Ian Mclausland)
“When I realized I could build a kitchen for people with disabilities, I knew this concept would be really big. We can build the first one in Winnipeg, and many after this,” says Daymond.
When gearing up Pie Hole in 2016, Daymond contacted the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) for advice on entering the United States market. Ryan Kuffner, a trade commissioner based in Winnipeg, provided contacts and resources to help Daymond, who was still baking out of a church basement. Shut Ur Pie Hole’s business began to gain momentum later that year when she was approached by the Emmy Awards and the Food Network, who heard about her business through social media.
“These opportunities came across my plate and I could not say ‘no’,” recalls Daymond. “I knew that butter tarts were Canadian and that there was a demand in the U.S..”
Kuffner connected her with trade commissioners in the U.S. who provided Daymond with information on U.S. labelling requirements and e-commerce regulations in preparation for the exposure her business would soon get. Since the Emmy Awards and her appearance on the Food Network’s Sugar Showdown, Daymond says she has “not had a week without media attention,” adding that she has received requests from coast to coast for her pies in jars, along with kind words of encouragement.
“This is one of those companies that make phenomenal progress very quickly,” notes Kuffner. “I think she has a really unique product name and an innovative product presentation that is garnering her some great exposure. It’s unusual for a company of her size to have the marketing and pitching opportunities that she has had.” Kuffner says Shut Ur Pie Hole’s branding has been key to its success, along with assistance from organizations like the TCS and its Business Women in International Trade (BWIT) program.
While in L.A. for the Emmy Awards and Food Network appearance, Daymond found out about a BWIT trade mission to a business development conference for women entrepreneurs in Florida. While she admits she was exhausted from the Emmy Awards and wondered if the mission would be worth attending, Daymond says it ended up being “a game-changer.”
During the mission, Daymond met important connections: “It’s a huge networking opportunity. I tell everyone who crosses my path that they need to be at that conference.”Daymond says she obtained key information on market-entry and getting capital by participating in the event. “They (BWIT) really want to help you get ahead. They want to give you the skills you need and network with you.”
During the trade mission Daymond had an opportunity to pitch her product to the Walt Disney Company. No deal has since been made with Disney, Daymond has been focused on supplying the ever-growing number of Canadian mouths first.
Lynne Thomson, a trade commissioner with the BWIT program, says the program organizes trade missions such as the one to Go for the Greens Business Development Conference for Women Entrepreneurs every September so businesses like Shut Ur Pie Hole have help accessing exclusive opportunities beyond Canadian borders.
“Our wide-reaching network, from in-province women support organizations to trade commissioners world-wide, helps us position women-owned businesses for growth opportunity,” Thomson says.
“The demand for what I was doing in Canada was so high, I couldn’t move my business fast enough to make more product,” recalls Daymond. After going back to the drawing board and consulting with Kuffner, she developed a business plan, and plans to re-pitch to Disney at this year’s Florida conference.
“Managing growth is one of the greatest challenges facing small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), particularly those that quickly identify export opportunities,” notes Kuffner.
In addition to her projects for 2017, Daymond’s goal is to be in three international markets by the end of the year. She maintains contact with the TCS on a regular basis to fine-tune her international business strategy.
“As trade commissioners, it’s not a one and done. We walk with our clients through the process. We are kind of an extension of their business,” says Kuffner, who continues to help Daymond manage the rapid growth of her business.
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