Jean Blacklock

reflections on being an entrepreneur

Latest stories

Vegan, Gluten free & Nut free….PGB Snackin’ Cake

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned we have a booth at the Grocery Innovation Congress on October 22-23 and that we had a lot of work to do in the meantime. Last week, we met with Mark Terrell who consults in the grocery industry and he was a big help in giving us a clear roadmap to prepare for the show, including samples of appropriate fact sheets and signage and how best to arrange the booth...

Writing A Book

I’ve decided to write a book about changing jobs and the personal impact of career transitions. Its outline is still a little vague but I have met a really great writing coach and I am excited about working with Barbara. In thinking about it, I’ve reflected on what is the same and different among the things I’ve done work-wise. Many of the differences are apparent: different...

And now for something entirely different

Andrew has an encyclopedic knowledge of Seinfeld episodes. He tells me that George in Seinfeld once hatched a plan to do the opposite of whatever he’d usually do: his life was going so badly, why not do the opposite and see what happened? Things went really well for George for awhile under this brilliant approach. I thought of George and his do-opposite idea yesterday. We have a booth at...

What’s Different Now?

I was interviewed on Tuesday by the City Allergy Guide about our quite-new nut free status and also by the marketing agency for Brookfield Place about, well, our new store in Brookfield Place. I noticed they both asked, “What’s different now than when Prairie Girl opened in 2011?”. By a mile, my answer is “adoption of online ordering”. We had a good custom shopping...

Tomato Soup Cake

A line in a podcast caught my attention recently: “I’m working hard to create a business that is simple and scale-able”. That is such an important concept and it doesn’t get a lot of airtime. Mcdonalds, Subway, a housecleaning service, an oil change business, Girl Guide troops selling boxed cookies. These are simple – not easy, I’m sure, but simple in concept – and thus they’ve been...

Tired

This time last year we were three stores and now we are five. And we are gearing up to have a booth at the Grocery Innovation Congress for a not-yet-developed 6-pack of frozen gluten free, vegan and nut free mini cupcakes. I am tired. Not physically tired as I write this but mentally tired. The team is tired in the same way. They don’t say so – but I know they are ready for a period of time when...

Master Chef

Season 10 of Master Chef (U.S.) is down to 10 contestants. The last few people were whittled off during “Sweet Week” with several baking challenges including making macarons. I don’t like macarons and have never tried making them but they look hard. The guest judge for the macarons episode was Candace Nelson, owner of the famous Sprinkles Cupcakes in the States. I took a look at their website –...

Dietary restrictions

Since April 18th we have been nut free at PGB…and we have always offered vegan options as well as gluten free ones. My observations about foodservice businesses catering to diet restrictions and preferences are: You must do it. If you decide not to, recognize you will miss out on a segment of the market – it’s a rare event  that doesn’t have at least one person who is...

City Girl

Saskatchewan is very cold in the winter. Very cold. The first time Andrew went to Saskatoon with me, I told him to plug in the car and he thought I’d lost my mind. Even in his hometown of Montreal, they do not plug in cars. Mostly because of the cold, I knew as a child that I would not spend my life in Saskatchewan and I moved right after university. So it always is a bit of  jolt when...

trite but true

I’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes trying to think of something to write about. Something upbeat and cheerful and yet honest. The clock’s been ticking. Our Brookfield store will open a week or two later than I’d hoped.  We’ve had some personnel changes – we’re still short a few experienced bakers. There’s so much to do to get our training and quality...

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