691
7 min 26 sec

National Pie Judge Spreads Gospel of Sugar, Butter, and Flour

This lifelong baker was afraid of pies—but when she overcomes her hesitancy, she undertakes a baking adventure that leads to hundreds of satisfied customers. Get rich or pie tryin’!
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What It's About

The pie is cast: get ready for a ful-filling helping of sugar, butter, and flour.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Baking & Marketing
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Catherine's story is a good example that even if a side hustle might sound "as easy as pie," there are still a lot of challenges — even if you're a national pie judge.

Fun Fact

According to the American Pie Council, Americans buy more than 186 million pies at the grocery store each year. That is enough to stretch around the globe and beyond. 7% of American have also tried to pass off store bought pie as homemade.

Notes from Chris

Episode 691
Catherine earns her living as a journalist, but spends a lot of her off-the-clock hours finding excuses to bake. As if anyone needs an excuse!

A longtime baker, for many years Catherine was intimidated by pies. There was just so much that could go wrong—even though beauty is in the Pie of the beholder, you could still do something as simple as overworking the dough and end up with an absolute disaster.

It wasn’t until her 11-year-old daughter challenged her. Her daughter had been turning out delicious pies at her dad’s house, and Catherine decided she needed to raise her game.

She began CurvyMama’s Pies just as a blog, chronicling an apprenticeship she did at Bubby’s, a master pie bakers in New York City. There was just one problem.

You could read nice words and stories about pies, and Catherine wrote a lot of them … but research shows that pies are best appreciated as a more sensory experience. When she got back to the newsroom where she worked as a journalist, her colleagues asked, how can I get some of this goodness?

So she started offering pies for sale, especially around Thanksgiving. She settled on a price of $24 per pie, and put up a list for her friends and family to order from on her blog.

And that was when she learned a big lesson. Instead of giving people an option of four different flavors like any sane person would do, she let people order whatever they wanted. When you’re going to bake at scale, you can’t let everyone order whatever they want. If you have to turn out 15 pies, you should offer a limited selection so that you can bake in larger batches.

For the next several years, Catherine continued her pie hustle, peaking at an annual record of 122 pies in 2014. Not surprisingly, Thanksgiving was the busiest season, comprising up to 50% of her yearly orders.

Catherine also began teaching pie workshops, where aspiring bakers would learn from her hard-earned skills. She traveled the country, meeting pie makers near and far. And yes, she even became a judge at the Iowa state fair.

Catherine has recently relocated to the Los Angeles area. She’s now taking a break while she looks for a space to teach more workshops.

It’s been a sweet and filling adventure … no matter which way you slice it.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Curvy Mama Pies: Learn more and order your own pie at Catherine's website!

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"I’m thoroughly in love with pie. When I’m making the morning coffee, I’m counting the hours until I can get my hands back into dough."
—Catherine Gewertz #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau