Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Annika Corbin, Founder of I Like Pie Bakeshop, located in Claremont Village, CA, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I Like Pie Bakeshop is located in Claremont Village, California – and we want to change the way people think about pie. We reimagined the traditional format to make pie more portable, versatile, and fun. The result gives us the flexibility to offer a variety of flavors that would have been impossible otherwise. Better yet, it provides our customers a way to enjoy a multitude of options in the same space as a single traditional pie. We also offer mini pies, hand pies, whole pies, and savories, plus gluten-free and vegan options.
Before opening a shop in the Claremont Village, the I Like Pie dream started in a shared rental kitchen in Chino, where I worked all hours of the night filling orders. After many (many, many) setbacks and delays, we finally opened our doors on November 10, 2012.
Tell us about yourself
An unexpected layoff and the need for a change inspired my husband, Rob, and I to drop everything and follow an idea. I Like Pie came about as a result of our yearning to build something different and meaningful on our own. This, in tandem with my lifelong love for baking, was the recipe that sparked our concept. With a lot of help from friends and family, we reimagined the traditional pie to make it more portable, versatile, and fun.
The result was ILP's first product, our adorable Jelly Jar pies. The custom-made, cupcake-shaped pies opened a world of pie possibilities.
I also owe a lot to my mom and her mom - both wonderful bakers. Our family reunions had an epic dessert table, and my cousins and I would swoon over the sweet treats each aunt was famous for. I always strive to make pies that would have earned a place on that table.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Bringing the ILP concept to life and growing a passion into a thriving local business. We've had so much fun and such a great response from our customers that we are planning to expand soon. Stay tuned for those updates!
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
ILP isn't your traditional "Bakeshop," which brings a unique set of challenges. Our concept is unique to us – even down to our equipment. Owning a bakeshop is really hard work, especially in the kitchen. Our team is constantly reinventing our product to make it better, so there is never a chance for employees to coast. We change our flavors frequently, which is a lot to remember while staying on top of our day-to-day responsibilities.
We are committed to thoughtful service in a welcoming environment, and we are so fortunate to work with extraordinary people who share our mission. Even so, staffing can be a challenge at times. The process of fully training a new employee is very involved and takes several months. This makes staffing during brief peak periods and periods of rapid growth challenging.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Be open to change. Things rarely go according to plan, so it's important to have a plan B (and C and D). This will be much easier if you and the people around you are willing to adapt.
- Be resourceful. Think about COVID and what small businesses had to do to survive. In our community, it really brought to light the incredible resourcefulness of the small business owner.
- Nurture your team. Even if it is just a few people, make your team feel valued. They are your greatest asset and will be better at their jobs if they love their work and feel appreciated.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
ILP also has a catering and special events division with a dedicated pie concierge available to answer questions, recommend pie pairings, and support customers through the ordering process. Catering is the root of how ILP started – and we love sharing our love for pie with the local community through events and business partners.
We love supporting other local businesses. ILP brews Sightglass Coffee, roasted in Los Angeles, and scoops handcrafted ice cream from Claremont's own Bert & Rocky's Cream Company.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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