The start of Thanksgiving and Easter vacation is just the beginning of work for seniors Sophia Vos and Sophia Ramsey. During these holidays, they temporarily put aside being a student, and instead focus their attention on their pie business, Once Upon a Pie.
Once Upon a Pie sells pies to customers throughout the Boston area, with order size varying from single pies for individuals to season-long deals with companies.
During the fall of their freshman year, Vos and Ramsey, who have been friends since the age of four, made their first pie together.
“Three weeks before Thanksgiving freshman year, we made a pumpkin pie and were like, ‘maybe we could sell these,’” Ramsey said. “But it was sort of a joke that we would be good enough. I don’t know what really happened in between except a lot of work. But three weeks later we had sold 40 pies to the people we knew.”
Since then the number of orders for pies has steadily increased.
“We started and it was this simple 40 pie thing, and then I think Easter we sold like 60. The next Thanksgiving 80, the next one 115, now 170, so it sort of grows very rapidly,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey and Vos attribute part of their success to partnerships with other local small businesses. They said these partnerships expose their pies to new audiences who would ordinarily not have the opportunity to buy their pies.
“We have partnerships with supermarkets across the Boston area; specifically we have one with America’s Food Basket,” Vos said. “We also have a partnership with New Paris Bakery.”
Roula Pattas, the owner of New Paris Bakery, has been working with Once Upon a Pie since 2013. She said that she admires what Vos and Ramsey are doing.
“I think they’re very entrepreneurial, and I like to encourage that. They’ve worked very hard and they have a talent in this,” Pattas said. “Also, they’ve made wonderful pies for me.”
Both Vos and Ramsey believe that their success is the result of years of hard work.
“I love doing pies, and it’s a great part of my life,” Vos said. “At the same time it is always a test of sacrifice and resilience. You have to be resilient to wake up early in the morning, to calculate your numbers, then go to school.”
During April and December, Vos and Ramsey begin to buy ingredients immediately after school. Then they take the bus home and the baking begins.
“At 9 p.m. you start baking until the morning, go to school the next day, study for your tests, and take your tests after school,” Vos said. “Then you’ve got to deliver these pies, then you’ve got to make sure everyone got their right order, and now you’ve got to clean everything up. It’s definitely always a test of sacrifice and resilience. But Sophia and I, I think, are both committed to it enough, committed to each other enough.”
According to Vos and Ramsey, they enjoy baking pies, but they have to give up other commitments to keep Once Upon a Pie going.
“It’s not something where you don’t make sacrifices,” Ramsey said. “The days before Thanksgiving, it’s like ‘here go my grades,’ but you bring them back up after. Time does get tight when we bake food for 29 hours. You still have to go to school the next day.”
Once Upon a Pie aims to be a socially conscious company. A part of this is a partnership with the Brookline Food Pantry, where customers can buy a pie to be donated.
“Our clientele is a really socially conscious clientele. Sometimes people see something that’s an issue in their community, and they don’t know what to do about it,” Vos said. “And we have been able to step in and do something about it that allows other people to contribute. We have been able to build a bridge that allows people who want to buy the products to make good investments in their community.”
According to Vos, neither she nor Ramsey wants to spend the rest of their lives doing this kind of baking. However, they both believe Once Upon a Pie has been an amazing experience.
“I think that that’s been powerful for us to see how willing people are to support you and to support other people,” Vos said. “But also it’s been powerful for us to see that something is a little bit meant to be, and that’s part of why it’s worked out. We’ve worked very hard and other people have been supportive.”
Louie Goldsmith can be contacted at [email protected]