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Startup Corner: Ashley Tate, Sugar’s Pies & Various Sundries

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Minimally viable product …
My goal is to bring customers the nostalgia of great old-fashioned tastes with family and friends but with modern convenience and flair. I offer people the chance to relax and step back in time to enjoy a slice of pie like mama or granny used to make. Everything is made from scratch by hand using natural, seasonal and local ingredients to every extent possible. Each pie is served up with a side of “flyover flair” featuring local goods produced in the Ozarks.

Problem solving …
“American as apple pie.” There is reason people use that expression because nothing is more American than a delicious, fresh-baked pie. Unfortunately, people are so busy these days and not many have time to make homemade pies from scratch anymore. Classic pies are still great American traditions I want my customers to experience.

Seed money …
Starting a bakery presents a unique set of challenges because of the investment in equipment and raw materials required. Therefore, I follow the guidelines of Missouri Cottage Food Law and use social media as my storefront. This allows me to manage my demand and supply, while funding for future orders. I was ready to start my own business without having a large amount of seed money.

Hurdles to overcome …
I work full time as an office manager at Citizens Memorial Health Care’s long-term care facility in Ash Grove. Most of my baking is done in the evenings, late nights and early mornings. At some point, a girl has got to sleep! During festival events I always run out of product – fast! I am only able to make so many fresh pies.

Next phase …
My ultimate goal is to own a shop where I can put the hours in all day, every day. Once the holidays have wrapped up and the new year is here, I plan to set aside time to work on a business plan with this focus.

Pivot …
I had to create a product I could make in the fraction of the time and be able to make a lot of them without sacrificing the quality and charm of my pies. So I started baking and selling “rocket pies,” a small, handheld pie in the fun shape of a rocket. Creating this enabled me to supply more customers with a taste of my product. It is hard to make a hundred 9-inch, fresh-baked pies in a weekend, but I can make a hundred rocket pies in a day. It has been a great marketing tool and ultimately created more 9-inch pie orders.

Greatest need …
Time. The demand is there. I have to limit the amount of social media posts I make because orders can become very overwhelming.

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