Recipe for success

Four women, four businesses without storefronts

Kim Bialkoski of flora & farmer in her kitchen at 631 Main St.

Photos by Keeley Braustein-Black

Kim Bialkoski of flora & farmer in her kitchen at 631 Main St.

Photos by Keeley Braustein-Black

The end of this month will be the beginning of an adventure for 26-year-old Nadine Peloquin, who is officially launching Hocus Pocus Pies. 

Peloquin follows in the steps of many local operations with the no-storefront business model, which has led to quite a few successes in Winnipeg including Shut Ur Pie Hole, flora & farmer, and King Cole Catering.

“Back in university, a friend of mine kept making jokes about how I should stop making my friends baking because I kept getting marriage proposals. She’s like, ‘It’s a love potion!’” Peloquin says.

This compliment inspired the name for her business, which sells pies, tarts and chocolate dice, a product she felt ties in well with the increasingly popular gaming scene.

A customer favourite is her chicken pot pie with brussel sprouts and roasted red peppers.

Kim Bialkoski, founder and chef of flora & farmer, always dreamed of owning her own restaurant, but struggled as a single parent. 

In 2012, she lost her job as a waitress when she was hit by a car and broke both her arms. 

She had already taught herself how to pickle and make jams, and she used this difficult time of recovery to focus on her then-hobby. 

After her first market, Bialkoski received a letter from a tourist in San Francisco who had bought one of the 200 jars she sold that day.

“She wrote me this big one page letter saying that it was amazing. It really motivated me. It’s funny how the smallest little compliment can be like, ‘OK,I know what I’m doing! I’m going to go for this!’” Bialkoski says.

For this small business type, farmers’ markets are usually a first and integral step. 

Bialkoski says after this, you can work at getting on store shelves, though this presents challenges in itself.

“You’re up against major competitors who have the ability to charge way, way less than you. We all want to keep our food costs low, but we also have to admit to ourselves both as producers as well as consumers that there is value in it,” Bialkoski says.

Taylor Cole, owner of King Cole Catering, says there are a lot of advantages to working out of a rented space as opposed to owning a store.

“It’s nice to be able to helicopter in, do your cooking and get out of there and you don’t have to worry about paying rent this month. The main thing is that you have a good relationship with the people you are renting a space from.”

Heather Daymond, founder of Shut Ur Piehole, will tell you that starting your own food business is a ton of work, but there is a great amount of love and joy in it.

“My advice for other people starting their own company is don’t listen to your fears, make plans, and to live for joy.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 17, 2016)

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