Monthly Archives: March 2016

True Story.

Jeanne and I were invited to present yesterday evening at Columbia’s First Annual Grassroots Entrepreneurs event at the Missouri Innovation Center.  The goal of the event was to allow several local companies (including PJP) to share a short history of their company and then explain several current key challenges and struggles with an audience of college students, members of the community, and other local entrepreneurs.  The audience then had time to brainstorm and collaborate on possible solutions for each company.

And if there is anything we have, it is key challenges and struggles.  WORD.  Because Jeanne and I both live in a pie vortex, it is difficult to remember that the vast majority of other entrepreneurs at our stage of growth also are plagued by the very same things.  So, from the outset, we both thoroughly enjoyed listening to our co-presenters tell their stories and their challenges.  The struggle may be real, but it always helps to hear other people confirm they are down and dirty in the same fight.

What became crystal clear to us both on our ride home last night was that the majority opinion of the audience was that we – Jeanne and I – are sort of getting in our own way.  Sounds about right.

Seriously though, our growth is good, our goals are attainable, and we are meeting all of the benchmarks we’ve set for ourselves by our two-year anniversary.  BUT.  But the reality is that the next five years should focus on some VERY BIG GOALS.  And when I think about those goals, I panic.

For example, we both would like to see two additional stores open in the next five years.  I think we both see the St. Louis suburbs, perhaps Chesterfield, as a natural fit for our brand.  (Also, they have a great outlet mall there, a Trader Joe’s, and super good World Market as well.  Priorities.)  Not long ago, I found myself falling down the Internet rabbit hold of looking at available commercial space for lease in the Chesterfield area.  Then I saw the rent prices, started to do the math, convinced myself we can’t get the show together at PJP Buttonwood half the time so how would we ever pull it off 120 miles away at PJP Chesterfield??  GAHHHHHHHHHHH.  Overthinking, party of one.

But my takeaway from last night’s event is that each time I look at long-term goals, I envision them while keeping each aspect of our current set-up completely the same…meaning we do 87% of the baking and the dishwashing and the cleaning and the everything else you can possible think of.  (Who vacuums every morning?  We do.)  That is how we consistently hold ourselves back though…by assuming that we must do everything ourselves all the time for it to be correct.  At some point though, we will have to cave to the ever-growing chorus of people whispering in my ear to systemize our processes and create them well enough to allow other people to handle some aspects of our store while we build on World Pie Domination.

My throat just closed up a bit writing that.  True story.

 

 

Solid Advice.

Two years ago today at PJP Buttonwood, we created a wall covered in burlap lattice work (say that three times fast)…

wall-start

And then the next day, we promptly tore it all down and started all over.  Which should have been the best indicator ever for how we would spend the next 24 months of our life.  One step forward, two steps back.  (Unless we have a scissor lift at our disposal, and then anything is possible really.)

I remember two years ago today only for two reasons:  1) covering a wall in lattice with burlap fabric and a massive jug of glue takes hours and makes you sticky for days, and 2) our excitement at finally opening the doors at PJP Buttonwood was so real as we worked in there for hours and considered what adventures awaited us.

If I could time travel right back to March 21, 2014, I would find myself (covered in adhesives) and tell myself:

  1. That overwhelming feeling of fear at the unknown will never really go away.
  2. Investing in a good eye cream will be crucial, as it always is.
  3. To work faster on that scissor lift, because when the builders take it away, you’ll never be able to reach the wall above the front door again and will spend the next 24 months looking at a wall one-fourth painted.  And there just won’t be anything you can do about it.

Solid advice.

 

Thanks, sister.

As of this evening, Jeanne and I will have logged around 61 hours at PJP this week.  And based on a few big projects on tap for the next two days, I would bet our sum total for the week will cap about 92 hours when 1 pm on Saturday rolls around and we close for the weekend.  (An all-nighter tomorrow night is inevitable to complete an order due on Saturday morning.  You would think all-nighters get easier the more often you do them, but…spoiler alert, they don’t.)

cringing

And I don’t mention this for any sympathy, but more as a placeholder in the PJP history books of just how hard it is to make a business prosper and grow.  (And anyone who has ever been in business for themselves just said “AMEN, SISTER” out loud because the struggle is so very real.)  I hope that when we achieve World Pie Domination, I don’t forget how tired we both feel right now.  It is humbling and a bit overwhelming, actually…and I sort of like it, because that is what keeps all of this real.

I was talking with someone today who asked me to think a bit and identify what I love most about PJP.  And honestly, his question threw me a bit.  My gut reaction was well, EVERYTHING.  I love everything about PJP.  (Except for the corn syrup, the dishwasher, the occasionally backordered baby pie boxes, and the laundry list of items that regularly give me righteous indignation.  Ahem).  But then I realized that what I love most about PJP is that she consistently asks us to be stronger and more determined women.

Neither Jeanne nor I do well when we aren’t challenged to our fullest extent and PJP knows that well.  Just when we start to relax a bit, she brings us more and asks us to work harder and push ourselves in new ways…and for that, she is my favorite.  We are different women than two years ago tonight (when we were just a few weeks shy of opening our doors for the first time).  We are different in all of the best ways (except for the undereye circles) and we owe that to PJP and her consistent demands that we bring our best every single day, every single week…even when the work week is 90 hours long and we are sort of over it all.

So, PJP, we owe you.  You believe in us enough to know that we will muster enough strength to push through whatever is required of us to make World Pie Domination a reality.  So thanks, sister.  You really are the best.