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Episode 074

Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop

Meet Birkdale Co-Owner Gabby Sillyman

by | Sep 23, 2021

Show Notes:

In this episode, I sit down with Gabby Sillyman. She is the co-owner along with her sister, Savannah, of the Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop in Birkdale Village. We’ve been buying pies there since their opening in early Spring of this year for many of our special occasions with family and friends. I’ve been really looking forward to connecting with Gabby and featuring Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop on the podcast.

Gabby shares the story of how she and her family first discovered the Buttermilk Sky brand back in her hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee. It was love at first sight. The idea of opening her own pie shop with her sister Savannah led Gabby and her family to Charlotte, and a whole string of events transpired that would bring their families together in this amazing small business. 

As per usual, we discuss everything there is to know about the Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop experience, as well as recognizing other really special small businesses in the area. Unfortunately, just before we close our conversation, we did lose internet connection and had to start a new Zoom meeting to finish the episode. All good, though, as I think Gabby’s advice for aspiring small business owners and franchisees does come through in the end. 

It’s a very sweet episode 74 of Lake Norman’s #1 small business podcast. Thanks for listening in, enjoy getting to know Gabby Sillyman, co-owner of Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop in Birkdale Village.

Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop – Birkdale Village
16836 Birkdale Commons Pkwy
Unit 64
Huntersville, NC  28078

Local businesses recognized in this episode:

Clean Juice
Summit Coffee – CEO Brian Helfrich joins us in Episode 79 of the podcast!
Kindred – Joe and Katy Kindred were our guests in Episode 31 of the podcast!
Birkdale Village
Uniquities Boutique – Birkdale
Poppies Gifts – Birkdale
Bubbles and Brews CLT
Joe Gibbs Racing

Non-profit organizations recognized in this episode:

Feed NC
Bee Mighty
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer

Book recommendation:

Profit First
by Mike Michalowicz

Podcast recommendation:

How I Built This with Guy Raz

Transcript:

Narrator  

Welcome to The Best of LKN, a podcast featuring the best small businesses and the most influential professionals around Lake Norman, North Carolina. Each week we spotlight those businesses and individuals that are making a positive impact here in the Lake Norman area. Thanks for joining us, enjoy the show.

 

Jeff  

Hello, friends and welcome back to The Best of LKN podcast. I want to thank everyone that has signed up for our email newsletter. Signing up is one of the best ways to support the work we’re doing here at the podcast. Doing so is easy, just go to our homepage www.thebestoflkn.com and scroll down to the email newsletter signup form. There you’ll enter your first name and your preferred email address. Each week, you’ll receive an email updating you on our latest podcast episodes and written blog articles. Speaking of blog articles, the most recent article lists the five must-try waterfront dining spots on Lake Norman. I’ll put the link in the show notes. Have a look at it and see if your favorite place made the list. In this episode, I sit down with Gabby Sillyman. She is the co-owner, along with her sister, Savannah, of the Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop in Birkdale Village. We’ve been buying pies there since their opening in early spring of this year for many of our special occasions with family and friends. I’ve been really looking forward to connecting with Gabby and featuring Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop on the podcast, Gabby shares the story of how she and her family first discovered the Buttermilk Sky brand back in her hometown of Johnson City, Tennessee. It was love at first sight. The idea of opening her own pie shop with her sister Savannah led Gabby and her family to Charlotte, and a whole string of events transpired that would bring their families together in this amazing small business. As per usual, we discuss everything there is to know about the Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop experience, as well as recognizing other really special small businesses in the area. Unfortunately, just before we close our conversation, we did lose internet connection and had to start a new Zoom meeting to finish the episode. All good though, I think Gabby’s advice for aspiring small business owners and franchisees does come through in the end. It’s a very sweet Episode 74 of Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast. Thanks for listening in, enjoy getting to know Gabby Sillyman, co-owner of Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop in Birkdale Village.

 

Jeff  

Gabby, welcome to the podcast.

 

Gabby  

Hello, thank you for having me.

 

Jeff  

Great to have you. You know I’ve told you this probably 10 times leading up to this conversation that our family, we’re big fans of Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop so we’re really excited to feature your business on the podcast.

 

Gabby  

Well, that is the greatest compliment we can get.

 

Jeff  

There is a lot of buzz around town when you opened your shop in Birkdale Village. When did you open?

 

Gabby  

We opened the week before Valentine’s Day and then we had our grand opening, Pi Day, March 14th. That whole entire weekend we got to celebrate.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, yeah, it’s just been, it seems like business has been going pretty well since then. On more than one occasion we’ve attempted to stop by, and the line was around the building.

 

Gabby  

Yeah, I mean, that all goes out to the community. I mean, we’ve been so fortunate that not only people have received our product and enjoyed it, but they’ve shared the word and you know spread it and have come out and supported, not only us, but I think just a lot of small businesses right now in such a strange time. And we’re just, we’re so grateful for that and that’s, you know, that’s what makes our pie shop the pie shop, you know, so we’re very, very grateful.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, Lake Norman, the community really does rally around really cool, small businesses and especially new businesses where, you know, the community just seems to really be so supportive and enthusiastic when a new business opens up and, of course, it’s easy to love a new pie shop. So, that made a lot of sense. Great location too, but before we get into more details about Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, and before we actually continue this conversation, I want to let listeners know that I’m recording from my dining room table and you’re recording from your car, so there may be some, a little bit of background noise, but these are the quietest spaces that we were able to find.

 

Gabby  

Yes, it stays pretty loud in the pie shop and pretty much everywhere else in my life right now. So, I snuck away to the car but that pretty much sums it up.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, I totally get it. Are you, so you’re at the pie shop, you’re in the parking lot there at Birkdale Village?

 

Gabby  

I am, I’m actually sitting out front, which is kind of fun because right before we jumped on, you know, I get to watch something that, this is before we open and even now, it’s still really just like bliss just getting to watch customers walk in and walk out with you know, a box of a pie, or a four stack, or something like that. It’s just kind of surreal sometimes and I’ve gotten this you know, just sitting out here it’s, it’s pretty awesome. And like you said, we feel super fortunate to be in Birkdale Village. It’s just, the community here, I moved here about two years ago. And before then I visited here quite a bit. And I always, always came to Birkdale. I just, I love the atmosphere, I love the family feel, just the shops here. And the fact that we were able to get a place in here is pretty great. And there’s also some really cool things that are happening in Birkdale Village right now and some changes that are coming. I think people are really excited about it. And we feel very honored to be a part of it.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, Birkdale is an amazing location. And there’s some areas around Birkdale Village. There’s a new shopping center just across Sam Furr, Birkdale Landing, I think, or something like that, Summit Coffee is over there and some other really great shops. So, yeah, you’re in a fantastic location. But you brought up a little bit about your background. Let’s get into that before we start talking more about Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, share with the listeners a little bit of your background, Gabby, and what led you to small business ownership.

 

Gabby  

Yeah, so we have a kind of funny story, I guess. So, my sister and I actually own the shop together. She couldn’t be on here with me today. She wears many hats. So, she’s a wife, a mom of three, she is a nurse practitioner that still practices in the surrounding hospitals in our area. So, she does a little bit of everything, plus, she helps, you know, behind the scenes of the shop. So, Savannah and I had talked, you know, to I guess backtrack a little bit, throughout like our whole family, my dad, grandfather, grandmother, were all self-employed and had small businesses at one point in their life. And we got to watch that growing up, which is really great. And I think as we got older Savannah and I are seven years apart, so as we kind of got older, we got closer, and we knew we wanted to do something together as a family and that our husbands could be a part of, that our kids could be a part of and, you know, so we kind of looked at different concepts, we were always interested in things and learning about them. But there wasn’t really one that stuck for a long time. We just loved exploring and learning about them. And then it was Easter, probably I think about four years ago, we were in Johnson City, Tennessee, where I grew up, and this little place called Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop had just opened in this small town. And so, we were like, you know what, let’s give it a try, and we walked in, and we fell in love. And so, my background is in education, my sister’s is in nursing, and we weren’t really sure what we were going to do, but that was kind of like all of a sudden, we fell in love at first sight.

 

Jeff  

Oh, that’s amazing. Yeah, the atmosphere and the vibe of course of the shop is really cool. We mentioned before I hit record, my daughter, Abby, came to visit you a few weeks ago to pick up some pies for a special occasion here at our house and she was so excited to meet you and just loves the shop.

 

Gabby  

Well, that means a lot to us and like I said, I could talk about this all day. So, you just have to like stop me and so, I’m like, I’m so passionate about small businesses, franchises, and especially franchises, a lot of people don’t realize that they sometimes go hand in hand, and especially about Buttermilk, but, you know, we walked in that day, and it was the environment, it was the smell when we walked in, everything is baked from scratch, which a lot of people don’t know, we bake everything on site. And so, we felt this warm welcoming, the smell of the fresh-baked pies, the employees, it was just a whole, it was an experience. And that was something I think we were looking for that we had kind of found. And so, we walked in to buy one pie and I think we left with three large pies and cookies. And we went home, and we saw this little line on the box that was like, interested in franchising? and my brother-in-law was like, let’s give it a try, let’s see what happens. I’m like, no way, that’s crazy, and that was on like a Saturday and on a Monday morning we received an email back, so the rest is kind of history.

 

Jeff  

Wow, so you were from Johnson City, but at this point you were just visiting back home or were you living there?

 

Gabby  

I was still living there. I was, at that point, I was probably, I had graduated, I was about to go get my master’s in speech pathology, and I wasn’t, I didn’t know if that was really what I was ready to do right away. And my sister was visiting, and then when we kind of branched, you know, we started really thinking about the whole thing, she was like, well, you’d have to move to Charlotte, because her husband works in racing. And then another crazy story, my husband now works as a data analyst in racing. And so, it kind of, pie and racing brought us here to the Huntersville/Charlotte area. So, we get to do a lot of things as a family. The pie shop is definitely a highlight. And it’s, yeah, it’s pretty, it’s a pretty wild ride.

 

Jeff  

That’s so cool that you’re, that you know, the stars just kind of aligned right, to make this happen. And you and your sister, Savannah, shout out to Savannah, you are the owners and your brother-in-law, and your husband also participate at some level too. Do they provide some backend support?

 

Gabby  

They absolutely do. So, they both work at Joe Gibbs Racing and so their schedules are, you know, pie and racing schedules are pretty year-round. So, but it’s pretty great that we still get to do it together. So, they, you know, when we first opened, it was washing dishes, pressing apples, hanging shelves, kind of wherever, you know, they could jump in and help. It’s still like that today. I mean, there’s, you know, Friday night is a wild night for us. And so, they’ll come and, you know, hand out samples or work the front and it’s something that’s really, really cool. We even have the kids join in. They’re folding boxes and helping restock pies, and that’s exactly how we envisioned it.

 

Jeff  

I love it. Yeah, that’s so cool. Joe Gibbs Racing, JGR, so NASCAR. And yeah, the NASCAR offseason is pretty short, a couple months.

 

Gabby  

It is very short, and that is we have quite a honey-do list already made. But yeah, that’s another community we feel very honored to be a part of, the JGR family and the racing family is such a special one. They’ve done incredible things for our family. So, this started as just my brother-in-law, my husband, and my sister and I, and then earlier this year, my husband unfortunately lost both of his parents and his brother ended up coming and living here. And he now is our kitchen manager. And so, he’s a big part of this whole entire operation and I could not truly imagine doing it without him. So, it turned out, you know, to be an even bigger family business than we ever could have envisioned.

 

Jeff  

That’s amazing, a really, really cool story how it all just kind of came together and has allowed so many members of the family to participate and be part of the business. There was something about, I read an article, a press release, a few months back where you had alluded to or mentioned something about your affinity or love for the brand, the Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop brand. Can you shed some more light on that? What is it that drew you to that brand?

 

Gabby  

I think it was the fact that we saw so much, because we wanted to do this as a family, we saw that in the franchises that, so it’s a very small franchise, we’re the 17th store. I have dear friends that are owners of other locations, and they are all locally owned and operated. So, we saw other people and families like us that were in their shop and working and it wasn’t you know, that’s where I like to explain, you know, franchising sometimes to people is, you know, a lot of, we have so many customers that come in and say, is this a franchise, and we’re like it is, but you know, my sister and I are here and we’re working it and we’re all locally-owned and operated, and that meant something to us. We wanted it to be a part of our community and Buttermilk, that is so important to them. So, we do our Pie It Forward program where we pick local nonprofits and we’re able to give back to them through sales of a certain pie flavor that they get to pick, which is really great. We get to donate in various ways. We are part of a lot of you know, school organizations and giving back to teachers, giving back to nurses, just people in our community and that was so important to Savannah and I to find that. Scott and Meredith Layton are our founders, they are the most kind and genuine people, they live in Knoxville, Tennessee. They still own their original, you know, the original Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, that is still theirs and they live on a farm, they’re just so, we connected with them on such a personal level. And that was, that’s hard to find when you’re looking into, you know, a franchise or small or any kind of brand.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, that’s a really good point. Some franchisees actually are local small businesses who are in their business. And then there are other franchises that are, or franchisees, that could be larger groups, restaurant groups, that you never see, they’re behind the scenes, you know, so it’s not often that you meet the owner of the local Starbucks, right? It’s usually a larger corporation that’s part of that, but yeah, that’s very cool. Scott and Meredith Layton, how long ago did they start their company, the Buttermilk Sky?

 

Gabby  

They started in 2013, and they franchised not long after I think, and I asked them this not that long ago, I was like, did you know when you all started this that you wanted, and she, Meredith had mentioned, she was like, I think at our grand opening, we kind of looked at each other and we were like, they have done other things before, they had had a cupcake business before that, and Scott has been in construction, architecture most of his life and Meredith is a speech therapist. I mean, they had done other things previously, and I think they finally kind of looked each other and they were like yeah, like, we’ve got something, you know, this is, this is it, this is like our you know, and they, they started it small, and they built a great foundation and set all of their franchisees up for success.

 

Jeff  

It reminds me of another franchise that started small and really just exploded and a lot of these big brands have been started, or there have been a lot of big brands started in the Lake Norman area, and one that comes to mind happens to be one of your neighbors there at Birkdale, which is Clean Juice.

 

Gabby  

Yes, absolutely. I was super excited I got to go and be a part, you know, visit them during their re-grand opening across at Birkdale Landing and their story is incredible. I mean, they have worked so hard to grow a brand that they can be so proud of. It’s such a great one and now they’re moving on to other things and just from, you know, two people who started just working really hard and had a passion for it and it took off. It definitely paid off.

 

Jeff  

The story of that beginning, and I’ll just digress for one second, the story of the beginning of Clean Juice, now I’ll have to, I’m not going to share the story that I’ve heard because I don’t know if it’s 100% true, but if it is it’s really, a really cool story, so I’m gonna have to do some background, some more research, but truly humble beginnings for that company and it has just absolutely skyrocketed. Gabby, share with the listeners, let’s talk about what they can expect to find at Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, what kind of experience they can have there, what are the pies, or the choices, selections, that sort of thing. And then we’ll get into some of the local small businesses that we love in the area.

 

Gabby  

Yeah, so we definitely like I mentioned earlier, we want you to have an experience when you come into Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop. We want you to come in and smell the fresh baked pies and look at all of your options and learn about us and our brand and whatever questions you may have. So, we, you know, we really stress that to our employees and we’re very fortunate to have such great ones that find that important as well. So, you’ll come in, and you will, you’ll smell first thing in the morning is fresh baked apple pie. And so, you know that’s the best thing, but then you know, so we serve nine daily flavors, we serve a variety between like apple, peanut butter, chocolate cream, chewy chocolate chip. Apple and key lime are our best sellers here at our location. Apple will be gone by three o’clock today probably. And then we also do, we serve those in a nine-inch size, which is great for, you know, dinners and parties, but we also serve them in a four-inch personal size so you can grab a couple and we do a little four pie pack, and you can try a little bit of everything. So, we have a lot of people who come in, sneak in on their lunch break and grab one just for a treat. We also do a thumbprint cookie that’s made from the same dough as our homemade shortbread crust and then it has a homemade icing in it. So right now, we’ve got vanilla and of course pumpkin spice. But we also do a seasonal flavor which rotates about every six weeks, so right now it’s caramel turtle. In October we’ll be gearing up for pumpkin. We’ve got cherry in January and throughout the year we rotate those. And then also we, like I mentioned, we do the Pie It Forward program. So, we have a recipe book full of recipes that we do not offer daily or as seasonal flavors. So, things like banana cream, peach, lemon meringue, those we pick local nonprofits in the area, and they get to come in and pick from that recipe book and we serve that pie the whole month. And then $1 from every pie sold goes back to their organization. So, last month, we were able to do Bee Mighty, which is a NICU nonprofit in the area. And then this month is peach, which has been a huge hit, and it’s with Feed NC for Hunger Action Awareness Month. So, it’s just one of my absolute favorite things about this brand is giving back to our community. And there are so many ways to give back in the Huntersville, Lake Norman, Charlotte area that, I mean, I could do, I wish I could do more Pie It Forwards. So, we’re always, and we tell people, you know, even if we can’t do a Pie It Forward, there are lots of other ways we would like to give back to the community. So, we always tell them to ask.

 

Jeff  

There are so many worthy organizations in the Lake Norman area for sure. Feed NC came up recently in an interview I had with Kathleen and Ed Martin, they own LKN Images in Mooresville, and they participated in the Front Steps Project, I think is what’s the name of it, the photography or photographic initiative that went viral during the pandemic, and they participated. They didn’t start that initiative, but they kind of led it in the Lake Norman area. And they were able to raise $55,000 for Feed NC.

 

Gabby  

Wow.

 

Jeff  

And it’s just a couple who own a small business, and just the impact that a small business can have on a local nonprofit is really amazing and so rewarding.

 

Gabby  

Oh, absolutely. And Feed NC isn’t, I mean, they have, there are so many opportunities that they provide for people in our community. They’re not just a food bank, I mean, I’ve learned so much about them. And through the amazing staff there has taught me a lot and we’re really happy to be and excited to be partnering with them right now.

 

Jeff  

They’d be a great organization to have on this podcast, I might, after we stop recording, I might circle back and ask for some advice on how to connect with them.

 

Gabby  

Absolutely.

 

Jeff  

I’ll have a link to Feed NC in the show notes and Bee Mighty, I’m not familiar with that one.

 

Gabby  

So that is a NICU foundation. And they basically provide resources for families that are coming out of the NICU that need, you know, home health care items, or things for babies that are born prematurely or have many of these lifelong disabilities and they’re just a really, it was started by a couple who had a baby that was in the NICU and my sister, she was a NICU nurse for years before becoming a nurse practitioner. And it was something that was really close to her and her friend reached out and was like, you know, this is a great organization that we’re trying to give back to families in the community who need help after leaving the hospital. And so, that was our first one, we did banana cream, and we were able I believe to raise over $1,000 for them. Another one we were able to do was, JGR actually usually does a Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. And unfortunately, this year they weren’t able to do the regular bake sale. So, we donated, I want to say it was hundreds of pies and all of their employees came out and made donations and bought pies. And I think it ended up a little bit over $4,000 we were able to give back to that organization along with JGR. So, just things like that. I mean, it is really incredible to see your community show up for, you know, those who need it.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, and I always look forward to that fundraiser each year as well, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, I have always gone out of my way to make some big purchases every time that fundraiser comes around. In fact, the last time I saw it was at Birkdale. The last time I participated in that event was one of the pop-ups was there at Birkdale, which is always a great place for it.

 

Gabby  

Yeah, Birkdale has another one that we’re about to do. And if people haven’t heard of it, they should look it up. It is the Taste of Birkdale. And it’s going to be happening I believe, October 3, a couple restaurants, places including ourselves are going to be out here on the lawn. And we’re going to be giving back a percentage of sales to hospice care. I cannot think of the name right off top of my head, but it’s a really great organization that does a lot of great work in our area and Birkdale, they’re also doing a lot to give back to the community right now.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, just send me an email with the name of that organization, I’ll make sure there’s a link in the show notes for that too.

 

Gabby  

Great. Thank you.

 

Jeff  

So, one of the things that I love to talk about in these conversations, and I’ve really been looking forward to this topic, this question for you because you’re surrounded by so many really amazing small businesses there at Birkdale Village. And I know we don’t have time unfortunately to name the dozens upon dozens of small businesses that we love in the Lake Norman area in each episode, but what are a couple that you can share with listeners that really kind of stand out for you over the last few months?

 

Gabby  

Well, I would say you hit the first one when we got on here and that was Summit Coffee. So, they just opened across the street, and they keep me caffeinated. They are wonderful and I actually discovered them right during the pandemic when everything had shut down, a friend and I used to walk through Davidson and you know, business, it was at a time when businesses were really trying to get creative of how to stay afloat. And Summit had parked a little cart outside and was taking all the precautions necessary to make sure they were keeping customers safe but also you know, doing their best to stay afloat and I fell in love and then I found out they were gonna be across the street and I was like, this is the best thing ever. And it’s been very dangerous, but it’s been great, so they’re a wonderful business. I love, they always have great customer service, great product. I haven’t got a chance to meet the owners, but I can tell they’ve just worked really hard to build a really wonderful brand. Our neighbors here in Birkdale is Uniquities Boutique, which just gets me in a lot of trouble. But they have a wonderful manager over there, it’s a very personal experience when shopping and that’s something I look for a lot, mostly because I have a very busy schedule, but also I mean I want to, I always want to support small, but I love to have that personal experience when shopping and no matter what, if it’s at a bookstore, a bakery, clothes, and that’s something you get there and they’ve been really great neighbors and they’ve also were so kind to put up with our very loud construction for many, many months and they’re just a great little spot. I will say Poppies Gifts, a little boutique here in Birkdale, that’s just a great place, great owner, just so unique and everything so personable there. And I will, last one I’ll say is Bubbles & Brews, it’s an awesome truck owned by an incredible woman who started it as I think kind of a fun project and it took off, and she’s at all of our celebrations in Birkdale I think, and she’ll be back out here for our one year, to celebrate our one year anniversary, and I just, most of the ones I think I mentioned are you know women-owned and I think it’s pretty incredible, like they’ve, you know, come up with these concepts and they’ve just exploded I think beyond their belief, you know.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, those are all great, all great suggestions. Bubbles & Brews, I’m not familiar with it. That’s a truck or a pop-up type shop?

 

Gabby  

It is, it’s a truck. Coleen owns it and just full of life, and she brings I mean, you can do champagne, you can do beer, wine. I mean she even does kids’ birthdays with like juice and, you know, soda and things like that, she’s just great. And she’s so creative. And you know, she just brings the party wherever she goes. And a lot of businesses here in Birkdale have used her and people just gravitate towards wherever she’s at.

 

Jeff  

I’ll do some more looking into that. That sounds like a really amazing small business and a really cool owner as well. Uniquities Boutique, I’m familiar with them via Instagram, Birkdale, I follow Birkdale Village on Instagram and they share Uniquities’ posts all the time and really cool content, seems like a great business as well. Poppies, I’m not really familiar with Poppies Gifts.

 

Gabby  

So, she is actually over on the same side where Clean Juice was, their original location. Really small little place but baby gifts, wedding gifts, housewarming gifts, embroidery, just again, another place where you can go and just get a great experience and some really cool finds.

 

Jeff  

Have you met the owner at Uniquities?

 

Gabby  

I have, Julie. I’ve met her once. She’s wonderful. Another thing that she started and has grown, she’s in multiple locations between North Carolina and I believe in South Carolina. But and like the manager here, does a wonderful job at providing a great experience for customers and I mean like you said that there’s hundreds I think I could name especially during such a hard time for business owners, I’ve just been so impressed with how small business owners and just managers and staff has gotten creative during this time to make sure their customers, you know, have an experience, have, you know, feel safe and that they’re taking precautions, but just being creative, you had to get really, we were supposed to open May of 2020, our construction started August of 2020, we opened in February. I mean, there were so many setbacks that I think I could write a book on. But the thing that I want to highlight the most is, people got creative, but also the community showed up. And I think they’ve showed up for a lot of small businesses, and in really, really big ways. And I think I can say this on behalf of all small businesses, we really, really appreciate it. And we’re so grateful that people have recognized how important it is to your community to do that for small businesses.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, that’s really well said, and I think that it was so easy for or, it was difficult actually, for the public to understand how really complex and difficult it was for some of these businesses to, you know, how creative they really had to be to kind of adapt and change their, change how they delivered their products and their services during that time. And restaurants for sure, you know, we’re one of them, like, especially fine dining had to really, really, completely change their menu in a lot of cases, you know, because fine dining entrees tend to not travel so well.

 

Gabby  

Yeah, so I applaud them all, because, you know, they did a fantastic job. And it was, you know, unfortunately some people couldn’t keep their doors open or, you know, and that’s why I think it highlighted so much of again, you know why it’s important to show up for these businesses because of the impact it has on your community as a whole.

 

Jeff  

I agree and the community did, really did show up and supported, have been so supportive throughout the last 18 months. You mentioned that you haven’t met the owners of Summit Coffee. Well, you will soon on this podcast. The CEO, Brian Helfrich, was a guest recently in a recording and I’m not sure if Brian’s conversation will publish, will be released before or after this episode, but it’ll either be right before or right after So, but anyway, that’ll be a good one.

 

Gabby  

I am excited about that.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, it’s a really cool conversation. He really brought a lot to the conversation in terms of like strategy and developing brands and he’s a really sharp guy.

 

Gabby  

Oh, I’m sure. Wonderful, wonderful concept and product. Very impressed.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, same. Yeah, I really love it. You mentioned the cart that they had during the, when everything was shut down. And that was a collaboration, did you happen to notice that milkbread, that they were also serving milkbread doughnuts?

 

Gabby  

I did not.

 

Jeff  

So, that was, they collaborated with Joe and Katy Kindred from Kindred Restaurant and were also serving milkbread doughnuts at that time as well. But yeah, it’s just another case of how you know, Brian and Joe and Katy are close friends and they just kind of talked about how like what can we do, and Brian had this idea, and Joe and Katy were like yeah, we’re in, let’s do it.

 

Gabby  

That’s awesome.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, that’s really cool.

 

Gabby  

That’s another one I’m excited to try. Milkbread, very, very excited to try that.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, looking forward to that opening up it should be very, very soon. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to trying that as well, I’m sure it’s gonna be awesome.

 

Gabby  

Oh, absolutely.

 

Jeff  

How about, another topic that I always talk about are reading recommendations or podcasts. Obviously, I’m a podcast producer and I consume a lot of podcasts. Do you have any reading recommendations in the space of small business or personal development or podcasts?

 

Gabby  

One of my reading recommendations is another franchisee had recommended this when we first started this whole process, it’s called Profit First. And basically, it’s a really, it’s a great model to follow. I think a lot of, in small businesses you get into it and you constantly want to invest every dollar you make back into it because you want it to be the best that can be, but a lot of times you look up years and years after being open and you’re like I have worked myself into the ground and I have this great brand and I have this great, but I haven’t, you know, taken home anything. I haven’t, you know, I haven’t rewarded myself, and that can wear on you. I think really, and doing this with my sister, we, you know, we didn’t want a private plane, we didn’t want, you know, a house in the Bahamas, we just wanted, we wanted to be able to send our kids to you know college, or have, you know, a small, we always joke that we’ll have a small lake house one day, or something where we can all just, whether it’s, you know, just a small little place on a small little piece of land or something that we can just all go and be a family and enjoy the efforts and all the work we’ve put in together. And just, I think the greatest reward, of course, is doing this together and getting to, you know, teach our family, and have something hopefully that carries on. But, you know, you want to make sure you manage your money right, and you know, you pay a lot of taxes, you have, the air conditioner breaks, and things, and you can get really exhausted by, and really quickly, by the hiccups that are thrown at you as a small business owner. So, we follow this model, we followed it so far. And we’ve been really happy with just how, you know, that has helped us feel rewarded but also just kept everything in line as far as making sure we’re, you know, we have money in savings for emergency or, and I think it’s just it’s something you don’t always think of because you’re investing you know, your life savings into it and your whole heart. So, you’re like I’m gonna, it’s all got to go, you know, and if you’re giving it your all, but I think it’s important to really manage your money right. And, or you can just feel really defeated quickly, especially when unexpected things happen. I’m sure you’ve heard of the podcast, How I Built This. It’s definitely a favorite. I listened to it way before I ever thought about franchising or being a business owner. And it is, I think you’ve even mentioned this earlier, it’s really cool to see how some of these large brands, one that, one of the first ones I ever listened to was the Whole Foods story. And that’s just, and that’s one that went from, you know, literally nothing to one of the largest buyouts ever. And then you hear, I’ve heard the Five Guys I’ve heard SoulCycle, I’ve heard just these, you know, different brands, that started with just people who had a vision or had a dream to do something different. And it definitely, you know, they highlight a lot of times the hard work and the times they got told no, the times that everything went wrong. And they just decided, well do I keep doing this or do I, you know, give up now and just walk away. And it’s some really cool stories. So, that’s one that I just think is fun to enjoy and hear about, you know, how people got where they are.

 

Jeff  

Yeah, I love How I Built This. That is the most talked about podcast on this podcast, for sure. And but yeah, some just some really amazing stories and the backstories behind some of these huge brands, these just mega-successful brands are the backstories, and the origin stories are so cool. Like it’s just really cool how humble they were when they started out. And a lot of these founders are still humble because they remember what it was like when they started, so it’s, it’s really cool. Profit First, yeah, that’s another title that’s been mentioned a few times and a great title, highly recommend, highly recommend small business owners or freelancers to have a look at that title, definitely.

 

Gabby  

It’s a good one.

 

Jeff  

And yeah, and there’s no shame in turning a profit and getting that lake house someday, you know.

 

Gabby  

Right? I mean, it’s on the vision board. Whether it’s a little shack or whatever, like we’re there, you know, it’s just you’ve got to have those, you know, visions and goals for yourself. And you know, we don’t know if this is the first Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop or the first business we’ll have together or you know, the only one or if there’ll be many, many more to come but you know, we put in the hard work and getting to enjoy the rewards as a family is really special.

 

Jeff  

Absolutely. And that actually brings up my last question for you and that is for small business owners or for listeners who may be aspiring to start a small business or to start their own entrepreneurial journey. What would be a small piece of advice that kind of stands out for you that you could offer, what have you learned so far?

 

Gabby  

I think going into it and maybe this was a good thing. It was a little naive, I think everybody is until you, and you get, especially this past year, we were told no so many times. I mean, you know no, you can’t have an SBA loan. No, you can’t have this space. No, you can’t do this. I mean, you definitely, there’s such a toughness that has to come with it, but I think you always have to go back to, you know, why, your purpose, your reason, your drive, And your passion for it, your passion has to show up every day, you know, even after your doors are open because it depends on you and it depends, you know, and if you have that passion, your customers feel it, your staff feels it, and that’s so important but it is so easy to feel that.

 

Jeff  

Hey team, it’s Jeff. I’m gonna stop right here for just a moment because Gabby and I lost our internet connection and our recording stopped. Thankfully, we were able to reconnect and begin a new recording within just a few minutes. Gabby ties the technical issue in nicely with the trials and tribulations of starting a new small business. Okay, let’s get stuck right back into the interview.

 

Jeff  

Thanks, Gabby. Excellent advice and I guess we’re gonna find out how good my editing skills are here in post because we just had a technical difficulty, a technical glitch, we lost connection. Gabby, thanks for dialing back in and helping me close out this interview and this conversation.

 

Gabby  

Absolutely, like I said, that pretty much sums up my story of technical difficulties and small business ownership. Like if that could, that pretty much sums up everything I wanted to say, you know, unexpected things happen and you’ve got to roll with it, and that you’ve got to, you know, keep your head up and just, you know, go with, you’ve got to not let every little thing get to you because you got to enjoy the ride, that’s for sure.

 

Jeff  

Got to be able to adapt. You know that word we heard over and over for the last 18 months, pivot, you know, gotta be able to pivot and just roll with the punches. Yeah, well thank you for that and for advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. And this has been a lot of fun. I really, really appreciate you joining the podcast, I’m really excited to share your story and also share Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop with our audience. Gabby, how can listeners learn more about Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop?

 

Gabby  

Well, first you can visit our website, well, first you can come in, come in and meet me and my sister and our family, we will talk, you know, all day about this brand and about our story and how much joy it has brought us. That’s the first thing for sure and come in and try, you know, some pie and have an experience here with us. I mean you can definitely visit the website which is buttermilkskypie.com and you can learn about the Scott and Meredith story, you can learn a little bit about our other owners and their stories and where our other locations are. And then if you want to just know a little bit more about our shop and things that we have going on here you can visit our Facebook page which is Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop Huntersville.

 

Jeff  

Perfect, I’ll have those links in the show notes. Gabby Sillyman, did I pronounce that right? We talked about that before I started.

 

Gabby  

And that’s my, that is my maiden name, so I’m a Rising now, it’s Gabby Rising, but Savannah and I are both, you know, the Silly Girls, we’re the Sillymans. But Jeff, I want to thank you so much for having me and everything you’re doing on this platform for small business owners, it really means a lot to us and you reached out to me and I was so, so excited about it because this is my first time getting an opportunity like this, but you’re highlighting, you know, these businesses in the area, some that I’ve never heard of that I’m getting the opportunity to try and I’m sure other people are also, and that really means a lot to us and we’re very, I’m I know I’m very grateful for it, and I know other business owners are as well.

 

Jeff  

Well, I really appreciate that. That means a lot and thank you so much for those kind words. Gabby Sillyman, co-owner of Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop, Birkdale Village. Gabby, thanks again for joining the podcast.

 

Gabby  

Thank you, Jeff. Have a great day.

 

Jeff  

Thanks again to Gabby for joining the podcast. Listeners, you can learn more about Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop at www.buttermilkskypie.com. Or check them out on Facebook at Buttermilk Sky Pie Huntersville. I’ll have those links as well as the links to the other local small businesses and nonprofit organizations Gabby mentioned in the show notes. As always, the complete show notes for all of our episodes can be found at the home for Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast, www.thebestoflkn.com. While you’re there, be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter. It’s free, easy to sign up, and we’re adding more valuable content each week. Plus, it’s a great way to show some support for the work we’re doing here at The Best of LKN. Finally, I want to let everyone know that we are doing our best to add full transcriptions to our show notes for each episode. The transcriptions make these episodes accessible to everyone, including the hearing impaired. As is the case with producing all of our content, there are costs involved, and it doesn’t take long to exceed our small operating budget for this production. So, with that in mind, we are seeking corporate sponsors for The Best of LKN. If your company does business in the Lake Norman area, we’d love to have an opportunity to talk to you and show you what partnering with us as an advertiser might look like. Our vision for the future of The Best of LKN far exceeds what we can manage by ourselves. And we would love to have a few exceptional local companies join us on this journey. You can reach out to me directly by email. That’s Jeff, jeff@thebestoflkn.com. On that note, I’ll close this episode with more thanks to you, our listener, and to the community of small businesses that have supported this platform and helped us so much along the way. The team and I have been honored to meet you and share your stories. We look forward to sharing many more. So, that will do it for Episode 74. I’m going straight to Buttermilk Sky Pie Shop from here for a key lime pie, and maybe an apple pie too. I encourage you to do the same. You’ll love it. We’ll catch up again next week. Until then, cheers Lake Norman. Bye for now.

 

Narrator  

We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Best of LKN. For more information about this podcast, show notes, video episodes, and links to our featured businesses, please visit www.thebestoflkn.com. We publish episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe and stay up to date. Until next time, cheers Lake Norman.