You may have read the popular Farming Fort Collins Blog turned online farm and ranch directory, turned e-zine, The Pig & The Plow: From the Field, but have you stopped by the Pig & Plow Bakery and met the woman behind it all?
Erica Glaze has been busy. After growing up in the fresh, local food scene of New England, she saw a need when she moved to this area back in 2003. “I worked for the Federal government for 3 years and the State for 10 years, but I’m not a good office person, I was ready for a change.” Her desire to connect people to good, local food was the catalyst behind the Farming Fort Collins Blog. The blog turned into an online farm and ranch directory in 2014, then the e-zine evolved to explore the local food scene more. In 2017 she bought her first oven and launched The Pig & The Plow Bakery out of a converted shipping container on her Farmstead.
Erica connected with the Small Business Development Center through word of mouth and a mutual connection to an SBDC Consultant. “I took a start-up class and continued to move forward to figure out what was needed to take each next step.” She utilized the resources from the beginning and found a network of mentors. “I’m not afraid to raise my hand and ask for help. There are things you’re good at and things that don’t come naturally. With mentors it wasn’t just me, I had a huge network.”
The business consistently outgrew space after space. COVID could have devastated the business, but luckily Erica set it up, right. “When COVID hit we had to stop our NOCO Meat Collective classes, the restaurants we supplied closed, and the Farmer’s Markets were halted. Luckily, we were already online and had a following. Within 24 hours we added other market partners to our website and continued selling.” COVID didn’t stop them from thinking about the future. In June of 2021, after outgrowing yet another space, they moved into the Colorado Feed & Grain in Timnath.
The opportunity to move into their newest location at 140 Boardwalk Dr. in Fort Collins presented itself earlier this year and within two months was a done deal. The space was formerly a bakery but also includes a great area for retail. “My husband was always really supportive and handy. He bought me that first oven and built the shipping container. When we decided to move to our new location we knew he needed to be more involved, so he officially became part owner.” It only took three days to move and set up the shop. They opened on November 15th.
The unique thing about the business is the attention to how they do things. “We’re not the only bakery in town, but we use local, organic ingredients to create a new twist on old classics.” One of Erica and her staff’s favorite parts of the business is exploring and blending food and culture to bring something new into the fold. No day is the same when you get to experiment and create.
The future for The Pig & The Plow Bakery looks bright. She’s focusing on continuing to develop the community around the business. She loves building opportunities for collaboration, and creating a place for people to come and grow. One thing she looks forward to is continuing to be a part of people’s special things, whether it’s baking goods for an occasion or as a treat. “We had a woman at the farmer’s market who saw our Danish bread and cried. She was homesick and so happy to see and experience something familiar.”
Her advice for budding entrepreneurs is this: “Don’t waste your time figuring it all out on your own. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Find the experts and be open to expanding your network.” She also advises connecting with people in your industry, and not seeing them as just competition. “There’s room for everyone, the more we connect and help each other’s growth, it’s an awesome experience.”
She’s most proud of the business she built that continues to move forward. From a converted shipping container to having a great new space with the right equipment and a great team (The Pig & The Plow Bakery employs 1 full time employee and 2 seasonal contractors), not to mention the people they’ve connected with along the way.