Bio: Megan Wilkes is a small town girl, turned big city entrepreneur. She has a background in interior design and business, and lives in Oak Cliff with her amazing husband and two canine children.
Hometown: Maypearl, Texas
Favorite Dallas hangout: My front porch
AHD: Emporium Pies is not your average pie shop. What makes your artisanal offerings so unique?
MW: Our shop is unique for many different reasons, the first being that my business partner, Mary Sparks, is a talented and creative baker with an incredible drive to create a unique and fantastically delicious product. We also have a hunger for community around here we let that shape everything we do. Mary makes great pie because she loves to and because she loves the people who are going to enjoy it, and I make the shop comfortable and beautiful because I want all of the people who come in to feel like they belong.
AHD: How did you settle on fine pies for fine folk instead of, say, cake or cookies?
MW: When I moved to Dallas, I really wanted to make a career for myself, rather than starting a job working for someone else. I have always had a dream to start a coffee shop because I like the idea of bringing people together in that atmosphere, but that just really didn’t seem like a viable option fiscally. I started talking to others, and my friend Alex Wall mentioned a pie shop. I then remembered that my mom mentioned a pie shop being her favorite hang out when she was in college, and the idea took root. Then, when I realized Dallas was like a pie dessert, I decided to pursue the dream. All that to say, my initial dream wasn’t to start a bakery, it was to create a place where people could come and spend time together. As the dream progressed, I met Mary and she was the driving force behind making sure we had the best pie in the city.
AHD:How long have you baked at your current Bishop Arts bungalow, and what's your sense of the community there?
MW: Emporium has operated at our current location, 314 N. Bishop, since September 1st of 2012. We absolutely love the Bishop Arts District and Oak Cliff as a whole. Everyone here has welcomed us with open arms and empty tummies and it has been awesome! People are friendly and most everyone who comes to see us leaves as a friend.
AHD:Beyond pies, folks have raved about small details like wicker serving baskets, wooden spoons and knotted string. How has your background in design helped you to find the right look for Emporium Pies?
MW: As with most small businesses, the entirety of Emporium has been a collaboration. Our friends at The Foundry Collective helped us bring our brand to life, then Mary and I collaborated to bring our dream of earth-friendly, 100% compostable packaging to life. Scott and Paul helped make it fit within our brand. Design is all about cohesion, everything in our store was chosen purposefully to fit together to create a whole package. I like to approach business like I would a design, trying to fit all of the pieces together so that the consumer sees a seamless product in the end.
AHD:What do you enjoy most about serving others, be they existing or soon-to-be friends?
MW: I have always felt that having a servant heart is one of the most difficult lifestyle choices that a person can make. You must work at it daily and with earnest effort. Being human, it isn’t exactly my nature to put others before myself. I really love being able to practice selflessness every day, even if it is the smallest way (like slicing pie). Don’t take that to mean I am perfect at it though; everyone is a work in progress.
AHD:With your hand-made pies and wholesome ingredients, it's clear you go above and beyond what others do. Why do you think it is important, regardless of what we create, to take the extra time and strive for excellence?
MW: I feel that anything we create, whether it is a beautiful space, a wonderfully delicious pie, a photograph or music, is a manifestation of ourselves. If you are going to put something out in the world and call it yours, you have to love it and to make it the best you can. Mary’s pies are incredible because she truly cares about the ingredients. Her pies represent her talent and she takes that seriously, the same way I am incredibly serious about the outward appearance of our store and brand. That is what makes us great as business partners.
AHD: Artists of all sorts could learn a lot from the way you launched your business, testing the market, temporarily opening up shop, then firmly planting within a vibrant creative community. What advice do you have for others like yourself who are thinking of making the leap?
MW: I would say that you should take things slowly and make sure you are properly prepared for the workload, time commitment and financial aspects of your business. When we first started up, we were completely deluded about how much time it would take to start our business. We were bursting with creative energy and enthusiasm and a year seemed like forever for us to open a shop. It took many wise people giving good counsel for us to slow down and take things step by step, but the patience has more than paid off.
AHD:Where can we go to learn more about Emporium Pies, and taste a slice for ourselves?
MW: If you would like to see what is on our menu currently or order a whole pie, you can check out our beautiful website: http://www.emporiumpies.com or you can come into our shop at 314 N. Bishop Avenue, Dallas, TX 75208.
AHD:And of course, what's your favorite slice of pie?
MW: I really enjoy all of the pies, but my all-time, absolute favorite is the Drunken Nut. Bourbon + pecan = yum!