THE PIE BAR
This month’s feature business is The Pie Bar, a small batch bakery located in the charming village of Westport, Ontario. The Pie Bar bakery is owned and operated by Stacy Blair, a Structural Engineer by trade, who reluctantly slipped into the world of baking during her maternity leave in 2013 in order to provide tasty snacks to her hungry husband. Ms. Blair’s husband had worked in a bakery during his youth and was happy to teach her traditional techniques and recipes. Throughout the learning process, Blair fell in love with the process of baking and soon started a blog and Instagram page which amassed a large following.
The Pie Bar business started organically over the years as Blair started bringing her baked goods to local farmers’ markets. In 2019, after many years of trial and error, the business proved to be sustainable, so Blair decided to take leave from her engineering career to pursue her newfound passion. By 2020, Blair and The Pie Bar were successfully providing pre-orders and ready-to-go baked goods to surrounding communities. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the business continued to rally support much to the surprise of Blair and her family. Customers understandably desired access to ready-to-go, delicious, and beautifully crafted comfort foods and The Pie Bar filled that slice of the market.
Stacy Blair was a successful participant and grant recipient of the Starter Company Plus Program organized by the Small Business Advisory Centre of Lanark County/Smiths Falls. Blair found the program beneficial in that she was better able to see the vision of the business and make more strategic decisions, especially regarding finances. When asked what her advice would be for other entrepreneurs, Blair stated:
“If you aren’t happy at your 9 – 5 job, take the leap and jump into small business and make a life worth living. Follow your dreams, take a chance and see where it will bring you.”
The Pie Bar can be found on Instagram at the_pie_bar and on Facebook @ThePieBarCanada. You can also contact Stacy Blair directly on the business phone (613) 453-2647 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Queen Bee Millinery is a one of a kind millinery and boutique located in the center of the historic Heritage Downtown of Perth, Ontario.
After decades of developing a love for hats and formal wear by attending military ceremonial events, garden parties and formal evening dinners with her spouse, Ranelle Larocque, the owner and milliner of Queen Bee Millinery, turned her passion into a creative fashion business in 2019. Starting out as an online business, she has filled orders from around the world and has specialized in providing the perfect accessory from her ever changing inventory of one-of-a-kind designs or by creating bespoke wearable art for customized orders. Hats and fascinators designed and hand made by Ranelle have been worn at events such as the Queen’s Birthday Garden Party in London, UK, the Royal Ascot, the Kentucky Derby, and at countless Canadian and international military ceremonial events around the world.
Ranelle has been a fashion enthusiast from a very young age, when she designed and wore her own clothing, using the old Singer sewing machine that her grandfather showed her how to operate. Having lived all across Canada as well as spending several years in the Netherlands and Italy, she has developed an approach to fashion that is unique, classic, and nested in the European fashion history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By contemporizing styles of the past to adapt to the unique style of potential clients, she has crafted products that have inspired beauty, boldness and self-confidence in those who have worn her art.
Switching from online to a storefront boutique at 16 Gore St East in Perth, Ontario, Ranelle was ready to open the doors just as the first lockdowns were put into place in March of 2020. Despite this potential setback, Ranelle dedicated her time to hone her craft, and to connect with her new found community of local business owners. Through these connections, she has seen a resiliency in the local business retail sector that is and continues to be inspiring. Every day she feels the love and support from the community and from organizations like the Small Business Advisory Centre, whose encouragement and personal attention during this crisis has been invaluable.
As we all wait patiently for things to open up again, Ranelle is busy connecting with customers online and is operating within the guidelines to offer curbside service until the health protection measures change. You can follow her on Facebook (facebook.com/QueenBeeMillinery) or Instagram (instagram.com/queenbeemillinery) and she will be launching her website soon at www.queenbeemillinery.ca, where you will be able see all of her creations, learn more about the art of millinery and shop online for the perfect hat for your next special occasion.
She stated: “If it wasn’t for the Centre and the things she learned in Starter Company Program she doesn’t know if she would have been strong enough to get through this first year especially in the midst of a pandemic. These government programs are absolutely vital, greatly appreciated and so important to the small business community.”
Ranelle is full of hope and optimism as she looks to the future and is looking forward to once again welcoming everyone back to Queen Bee Millinery.
Queen Bee Millinery
16 Gore St. East
Perth, ON K7H 1H5
North Folk Cafe is a Canadian cafe and Artisan gift market in a heritage town of Perth, ON. North Folk Cafe offers the largest variety of Artizen Kombucha on tap and in bottles, locally roasted espresso and a seasonally inspired food & beverage menu (including Mio Gelato).
Dasha Smolentseva is the co-founder of Artizen Kombucha since 2012. Covid presented unique challenges and disrupted usual supply chains for Artizen Kombucha in March 2020. Dasha saw an opportunity in uniting with other local artisan makers, combining these offers into Bubbles & Bites boxes and delivering them to Ottawa & surrounding areas. This move saved Artizen.
Kombucha, brought beloved products from rural area directly to customers in urban areas and even saw an increase in overall revenue.
Furthermore, right in the heat of the pandemic in July 2020 Dasha took over a cafe that closed in downtown Perth during that time and gave it a new life, letting it become the retail
front for Artizen Kombucha, as well as all the local products included in Bubbles & Bites Boxes.
The time of change has brought challenges and opportunities, but being rooted and connected to your community of customers, as well as being determined and not giving up has been the success story behind Artizen Kombucha & North Folk Cafe.
Winner of the Breakthrough award 2020- Perth and District Chamber of Commerce
Small Business Advisory Centre (Smiths Falls/Lanark County/north Leeds Grenville) provided invaluable support and access to mentors, free advice with professionals such as lawyers and a branding consultant, Loved being part of the Starter Company Plus Program, without this support, we would have felt lost and it gave us much confidence in moving forward with our business, pivoting and looking at ways we can do things better!