When Heather Sheire and Wendy MacCallum started selling pies at the Clarendon farmers market three years ago, they were unprepared for the response.
Soon after their first visit, Sheire said, “ we started having people come to the market just for us.”
The pair, who run the Arlington-based Livin’ the Pie Life, branched out last fall and started selling pies at the Westover farmers market, as well. They consistently sell out of the 100 pies they bake for each market session.
“We sell as many pies as we can possibly bake,” MacCallum said.
The two Arlingtonians met at a PTA function at Barcroft Elementary School. Sheire had started a pie business in 2011 with another mom, as an outlet for her love of baking. When that mom left in 2012, MacCallum came on board.
They discovered there is a deep local appetite for pie.
“There really isn’t anything like what we’re providing, because we like to do all the pies,” Sheire said. “We do cream pies, we do fruit pies, we like to do throwback pies — old-fashioned pies, like you don’t see anymore, like just plain rhubarb pie. There’s a whole cavalcade of long-forgotten pies.”
Those include grasshopper pie, made with crème de menthe. Other customer favorites are a Bailey’s Irish Cream pie and a Mississippi mud pie baked with malted chocolate. They also offer savory options, such as quiche, a mac-and-cheese pie and a Thanksgiving pie (turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing).
Sheire and MacCallum have found that pie preferences run deep.
“Everyone has their favorite pie,” Sheire said. “That’s what I find really interesting — everyone’s got their own thing. We have people who only like cream pies, people who only want apple, people who can’t stand apple. We’ll have people come up, they want nothing but coconut. It’s very subjective.”
The bakers are no exception.
“Wendy’s favorite pie is a key lime pie, and we use a recipe that’s from her family,” Sheire said. “For me, it’s probably the mile-high chocolate pie or any of the chocolate cream pies. I have certain types of pies I call ‘can’t have them in the house pies’ — if you bring home a leftover of this pie . . . it will end up in my stomach.”
MacCullum, a stay-at-home mom for nearly two decades while her three children were growing up, said her kids are inspired by her business venture.
“I have a daughter who’s a freshman in college now,” she said. “You know, I was a stay-at-home mom for all of her life, so she’s really excited and really proud of watching me do this. And it’s important for her to know — at whatever age, it’s not too late to start something new.”
Customers can order pies for home delivery or buy them at Livin’ the Pie Life’s stand at Clarendon and Westover markets starting next month. Sheire and MacCallum said the best time to buy their pies, however, is in the summer. Because they draw on local ingredients, summer allows them to take advantage of fruit in season. Sheire and MacCallum also cater events, including weddings.
The two are searching for a brick-and-mortar location in Arlington, where they can regularly meet the demand for their sweet and savory pastries. Sheire and MacCallum have done all the pie baking themselves, working out of a rented commercial kitchen while their children are at school.
Starting a business is a lot of hard work, Sheire and McCallum said, but it has been worth it for them because they love what they do.
“We laugh at the market,” Sheire said. “We have great relationships with our customers — people we’ve really grown to like and know. We may not be getting rich, but we sure are having a good time.”
Lanyi is a freelance writer.