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Jarring experience

Unique pie shop's success has been 'surreal,' owner says

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Shut Ur Pie Hole owner Heather Daymond shows off a gift basket packed with jars of pie.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Shut Ur Pie Hole owner Heather Daymond shows off a gift basket packed with jars of pie.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/11/2016 (783 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Heather Daymond is the brains behind Shut Ur Pie Hole, a company specializing in individual slices of pie baked and sold in Mason jars.

When Daymond was growing up in Cypress River, she and her mother made a point of watching every televised awards show together, whether or not they had seen any of the films up for Oscars or listened to any of the albums nominated for Grammys.

“It never failed,” Daymond says, seated in the retail section of her new, 1,800-square-foot digs at 1079 Autumnwood Dr., where the 41-year-old single mom recently celebrated the latest incarnation of her business’s grand opening.

“While we were watching people walking down the red carpet, my mother would poke me and say something along the lines of when it gets to be my turn up there, remember to say hi and thanks to so-and-so. And I’d be like, ‘Lady, you must be on drugs if you think I’m ever going to be on a red carpet.’”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/11/2016 (783 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Heather Daymond is the brains behind Shut Ur Pie Hole, a company specializing in individual slices of pie baked and sold in Mason jars.

When Daymond was growing up in Cypress River, she and her mother made a point of watching every televised awards show together, whether or not they had seen any of the films up for Oscars or listened to any of the albums nominated for Grammys.

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Pies in jars waiting to be shipped.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Pies in jars waiting to be shipped.

"It never failed," Daymond says, seated in the retail section of her new, 1,800-square-foot digs at 1079 Autumnwood Dr., where the 41-year-old single mom recently celebrated the latest incarnation of her business’s grand opening.

'It was so surreal. I felt like my mom was right there, looking over my shoulder'— Heather Daymond on being on her red-carpet moment at the Emmys 

"While we were watching people walking down the red carpet, my mother would poke me and say something along the lines of when it gets to be my turn up there, remember to say hi and thanks to so-and-so. And I’d be like, ‘Lady, you must be on drugs if you think I’m ever going to be on a red carpet.’"

Fast forward to Sept. 24, 2016.  Five days after she attended the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles, where she was one of 42 North American business owners hand-picked to present their wares to invited guests the night before the winners were announced, Daymond was back in Winnipeg, watching eTalk when it hit her: her mom had been right all along. 

"They were rebroadcasting highlights of the Emmys, and at one point, they showed footage of the lead actress from Black-ish (Tracee Ellis Ross) getting out of her limo and giving her gown a shake. And in the background, plain as day, you could see me chatting with Brent Butt on the red carpet," Daymond said.

"It was so surreal. I felt like my mom was right there, looking over my shoulder." 

Daymond was laid off from her job as a social-media co-ordinator for the Bay in January 2013. She spent the next 12 months applying for jobs in her field, but after coming up empty time and time again, she decided to give baking — a skill she picked up from her paternal grandmother — a shot. Figuring she needed a gimmick to make her products stand out from the crowd, she lined empty Mason jars with pastry, then added fillings such as blueberry, apple and cherry. She experimented with baking times for a couple of weeks and, satisfied with how her creations were turning out, launched Shut Ur Pie Hole on March 14, 2014, a date mathematicians will recognize as Pi Day.

Heather Daymond with Kate Flannery of The Office fame.

Heather Daymond with Kate Flannery of The Office fame.

Thanks largely to social media, Daymond’s pies-in-a-jar were an instant hit. She sold $10,000 worth of pie — at roughly $8 each — in her first four months in business. By the time the 2014 Christmas craft sale season rolled around, it was all she could do to keep up with demand. Then in June 2015, she received "the call."

The One of a Kind Christmas Show & Sale is a juried marketplace in Toronto that features the crème de la crème of Canadian artisans. More than 100,000 people attend the event, and the organizers were wondering if Daymond, whose exploits they had been following on Instagram and Facebook, was interested in setting up a booth.

"The one stipulation was you have to maintain inventory, and after hearing the ridiculous (attendance) numbers being tossed around, I was like, ‘How am I ever going to do this?’" says Daymond, who is up to 13 varieties of pie-in-a-jar and counting.

"But at the same time, I didn’t want to say no because I felt if people out east liked my product, too, it would really validate what I’d been doing."

Daymond didn’t have to wait long to get the stamp of approval she was seeking.  At a pre-sale event attended by a whack of Toronto celebrities, the various personalities were asked to select which of the 800 or so vendors’ products they liked best. Caitlin Cronenberg, a still photographer and daughter of acclaimed film director David Cronenberg, chose Daymond’s butter-tart-in-a-jar.

"So the next thing I knew, there were these giant posters of me on the sides of Toronto streetcars, promoting the sale," Daymond says with a laugh.

"We ended up selling 3,000 jars of pie in five days. I swear, the whole time we were there we never left the booth except to go to the bathroom, and we never stopped talking about pie."

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Freshly baked pecan pies cool before lids and labels are put on the jars.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Freshly baked pecan pies cool before lids and labels are put on the jars.

In May 2016, Daymond opened her email and spotted a message with the words "Emmy ceremony" in the subject line. Assuming it was spam, she immediately deleted it. A week later, an Emmy representative phoned her to ask why she hadn’t responded to the earlier message. 

Daymond’s first star-struck moment at the Emmys occurred when Irish actor Chris O’Dowd popped into her booth at the W Hollywood Hotel to nosh on pie and chat about, of all things, Winnipeg.

"After he asked me where I was from, he said that was a coincidence because the next movie he was going to be shooting is about a guy from Winnipeg," says Daymond, who was one of only two Canadians invited to take part in the Emmys gift lounge.  

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Daymond holds a full-sized lemon merangue pie.</p>

PHIL HOSSACK / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Daymond holds a full-sized lemon merangue pie.

Besides observing a couple of actors from Game of Thrones lick their jars of pie clean — and having her picture taken with Doug the Pug, a dog with 2.2 million Instagram followers — Daymond’s most cherished memory is getting to meet one of the stars from her favourite television show, Transparent. She spent nearly 10 minutes talking to Alexandra Billings, who plays Davina on the award-winning Amazon series about a retired college professor who is a transgender woman.

"She was just like, ‘You should be so proud, your country is so far ahead and accepting of transgender and LGBTQ,’" Daymond says.

"She actually started to cry in my booth. It was so touching."

Now that Daymond’s travel schedule has slowed down somewhat — after the Emmys, she flew to Florida for a women’s business conference and, earlier this month, she was one of 300 vendors who took part in a national craft show at the Vancouver Convention Centre — she is turning her attention to her next project, a venture she describes as an "ability kitchen."

Heather Daymond with Alan Cumming at the Emmy Awards in September.

SUBMITTED

Heather Daymond with Alan Cumming at the Emmy Awards in September.

"I come from a family of people with invisible disabilities. I once asked my mom, who fought hard to have a full-time job in a factory, how much easier her life would have been if she could have had a schedule built around her condition, and she said she couldn’t even imagine.

"So using investment dollars from my appearance at the Emmys, we’re going to work with an HR consultant and build a kitchen from scratch that, if you’re in a wheelchair, will have sinks that go up and down," Daymond says.

"And if you’re going through radiation treatment, for example, and can only work so many hours per week, we’ll develop a schedule that suits your needs. Lots of people hire people with disabilities, but to our knowledge, nobody yet has built a place specifically for those disabilities."

For a complete list of Shut Ur Pie Hole’s products, go to www.shuturpiehole.ca.

 

David Sanderson writes about Winnipeg-centric businesses and restaurants.

david.sanderson@freepress.mb.ca 

David Sanderson

Dave Sanderson was born in Regina but please, don’t hold that against him.

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History

Updated on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 9:06 AM CST: Corrects typo.

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