Behind the Scenes at Prairie Girl


In my last post of the year, I’m going to mention some of the things the team does to help us manage the really busy times for us: Christmas and Valentine’s Day.
Maybe the most important part of holiday planning is ensuring our foundation is strong. By this I mean our website, our processes, our team (recruitment and training), and our products.
The things that can most jam up a rush period is if we don’t have enough people, or the training of some team members is incomplete, or the website lacks a required functionality or has a bug in the ordering system.
Now that I think about it, as we are recruiting, training, planning, and developing new products all year, in the back of our minds, we are often thinking “Valentine’s is coming,” no matter what the date says on the calendar.
We also keep a lot of records: what the production was at the same day last year, what the sales were (of course), how many people we had scheduled, how many boxes and bags we went through. Records of the past are invaluable for planning the next big rush time whether that means what we need to order or how many bakers and customer service professionals we need on the schedule.
Then as the holidays approach, we set aside other non-holiday tasks or else we get them done in advance. For example, December or February are not times to develop new Treats of the Week or other new recipes. As well. tasks like planning social media posts and team schedules is done by the Catering/Customer Service team before the rush begins so that once it hits, they can focus on incoming orders.
Comparing our two big rush times, Christmas is a solid two to four week period of consistent holiday orders, 90% of which are placed by companies. On the flip side, Valentine’s Day orders are almost all for the 14th and 90%  of the orders are for personal gifts, not corporate appreciation.
The catering team tells me that our customers are more likely to order in advance for Christmas whereas at Valentine’s, the orders tend to start pouring in around the 11th of February.
Both holidays often see team members offering to help outside their own area, for example, this holiday season our director of customer service and catering was piping cupcakes a couple of days (Ailish is a pastry chef who started at PGB as a baker) and Gabby of our CS team was in the Victoria kitchen boxing orders.

Thanks very much to Jenna, Ailish and Andrea for the details and insights they shared with me for this post!

And thanks to all of you who have read this and maybe other posts I’ve written this year. Whenever someone says to me, “I read your blog”, I am always a bit shocked, to be honest. We turned off the comments because I was getting so much spam – there is some complicated reason as to why spam is attracted to a blog with comments – so it is a nice surprise when someone says that something I wrote was helpful or interesting.

In closing, I wish you a very merry Christmas if you celebrate it, or otherwise, a relaxing winter holiday break from emails and the external world in general. All the best for the upcoming fabulous-sounding year: 2020!! As 2020 gets underway, I look forward to sharing with you my reflections on being an entrepreneur.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean opened the popular Prairie Girl Bakery in the financial district of Toronto in 2011. She owned and operated the business until it closed in 2021 as a result of the pandemic’s impact on downtown Toronto. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock


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