When opening a business during a global pandemic, success is ultimately decided by the community. And Natasha Burton—owner of Mixed Fillings Pie Shop in Jacksonville, Florida—found that that her community would make her shop successful and much more. Natasha prides herself on customer service, and she believes that being able to relate to her customers has made her dreams possible during such an incredibly challenging time.
Mixed Fillings started as an online business that quickly transitioned into a brick and mortar in April of 2020, right at the beginning of the pandemic.When many businesses were struggling to stay afloat, Natasha hit the ground running with grassroots marketing to find customers. “I walked house to house for the first three blocks of my neighborhood, and I put flyers at people’s doors. I went to businesses and spoke to the owners. I went to doctors’ offices.“
But it’s not just about finding the customers. It’s about delivering on the product and the customer experience. Our Yelp reviewer, Natalia G.—who is always on the hunt for the next best meal she’s ever had—was first impressed by the product. “The Costanza is the best peach pie I’ve ever had. The Blurred Limes is also amazing. That pretzel crust is genius. We also enjoyed that oatmeal-style crust of the apple pie, warmed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. A true classic.”
But it wasn’t just the exemplary flavors. It was the personality of the business, the quirky and memorable pie names. It was Natasha’s style—bringing us to the second point: the customer experience. She is her own brand. As reviewer Natalia notes, “She calls everybody cutie pies, and she’s talking to her audience. She’s having a conversation with you the entire time. So it just keeps me coming back, and it’s a relationship that she’s building.”
Natasha knows that a relatable, accessible, and enjoyable customer experience is critical to finding success. In this episode, learn more about how to achieve this and more:
- As a business owner, try to be accessible. When you can, be present and available to your customers. When they can interact with the owner, it adds a dimension to your business and goes a long way in building lasting relationships.
- Seek out meaningful conversations. Natasha doesn’t just see Mixed Fillings as a way to sell pies. She sees the pie as the way to start a conversation and do something more. It’s about helping her community overcome the pandemic, racism, injustice, and inequality—and those conversations start over pie.
- Your business helps those around you. By starting her own business, Natasha was able to not only physically be there for her kids, but she could also set an example for them. And that example is set for her community as well. She says her business is an opportunity to “show people that look like me that no matter what type of adversity you are facing, no matter what you think you’re born into, you can overcome, and you can make something successful—something that you can take back to the community and show people how to do it. And, with that, you can make people’s lives better.”
- Know when to hire and delegate. Sometimes you can do it on your own, and sometimes you can’t. Mixed Fillings grew much faster than expected. Within a few weeks, Natasha’s husband had to quit his job to help out, and from there, the two of them ran the show. But eventually, even that got too much, and they brought on employees to help. Pay attention to how much you’re taking on, and recognize when it’s too much. There is a fine line between working hard and being underwater. When you delegate, it will benefit both you and your customers.
Interviews by Emily Washcovick; photos from Mixed Fillings Pie Shop and Yelp
These lessons come from an episode of Behind the Review, Yelp & Entrepreneur Media’s weekly podcast. Listen below to hear from Natasha and Natalia, or visit the episode page to read more, subscribe to the show, and explore other episodes.
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