Coffee Talk with Tiny Pies' Amanda Wadsworth Bates

 Amanda Wadsworth Bates and her mom, Kit Seay.

Amanda Wadsworth Bates and her mom, Kit Seay.

Now that we’re in the thick of pie season, what a better time to profile Amanda Wadsworth Bates of Tiny Pies on the blog. Amanda and I have shared several early mornings together in green rooms and meetings at her kitchen table since 2017—and what I’ve learned about her is running a successful business is all about taking risks and surrounding yourself with a good team. I love Tiny Pies’ history and how she started the business with her mom, how Amanda always has a vision for what she wants.

You started Tiny Pies with your mom, Kit Seay. Could you have started this business solo? And what's it like to be in business with your mom?

Tiny Pies is a partnership through and through and I can't imagine embarking on this journey without my mom. From my son's light bulb moment to creating the concept and launching at the farmers market, we always intended to work together. We each have different strengths and that's served Tiny Pies well. Sometimes working with family can be difficult, mostly because it's hard to not talk about business even when you are not working. We have disagreements, but we've never let it affect our personal relationship.  

How has Tiny Pies changed since its inception?

Tiny Pies' core principles of family, quality and community have guided our decisions since the beginning and continue to do so. Now our "family" is larger—it's not just me and my mom—but family is still one of most important principles today. Now we have a Tiny Pies family, a great team of people that put their heart and soul into their work. We consider our customers our extended family. Every Thanksgiving we sit at our table and think of all of the thousands of pies that are being enjoyed by our "extended family" across the country and it warms our hearts. There is nothing better than knowing that Tiny Pies has now become a part other families’ traditions. 

Our quality has never changed. Everything is still made by hand in small batches with the highest quality natural ingredients sourced locally whenever possible. 

One good thing that has come from our growth is that we're able to give back more to the community. Since the very first days at the farmer’s market, we've always found ways to support our community, and now we're able to do event more and it feels great! Our community also includes the farmers and other local food artisans who we work with regularly.

What’s your history with Austin and what are your favorite things to do in town? 

I wasn't born in Austin but I've been here since 1976. I went to high school in Austin and also attended UT. Austin is definitely my home and I don't think I could ever live anywhere else. My favorite things to do in here are to walk/run the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, swim and sunbathe at Barton Springs or Deep Eddy, go to Mount Bonnell at sunset or sunrise, enjoy all the restaurants and bars and listen to live music whenever I get the chance.  

 Photo by Annie Ray

Photo by Annie Ray

One thing that I've learned about you is you have a real eye for interior design and appreciate beautiful things, and I imagine that transfers through to the business. Where do you get your inspiration and what other local businesses are doing it well, when it comes to aesthetics?

I come from a creative family. My dad is a filmmaker and writer, my mom has always baked and created things with her hands and my sister is an architect. I've always loved fashion, interior design and architecture. I think I'm naturally creative, but I also find inspiration from looking through art books and by traveling. I've found that my creativity sours when I don’t leave town and experience new places. 

One of my favorite places in town is Green Pastures (now Mattie’s). I love to go there and walk around. The grounds are amazing. The house was built in 1895 but was recently renovated and the renovations are so beautiful. I always feel inspired when I go there for dinner and drinks. 

 

Y'all have been able to do some really creative things with your pies, from specific request from brides and mothers-to-be to a Twin Peaks collaboration during SXSW. What are some of your favorite catering requests to fulfill?

We love working with customers to achieve their dreams. On most weekends we're catering multiple social and or corporate events and it's nice to think that our pies are being enjoyed by so many. We're always up for a challenge and love to work with customers to create a unique flavor for their event or to create creative decorative pies. Our bakers are so creative, and they come up with amazing flavors and products. This creativity makes our job really fun!

One of my favorite pie displays that we made was a huge pi symbol made from hundreds of teeny tiny pies for Pi Day. The display was for a SXSW party and it was so much fun to create. 

 

Tiny Pies launched vegan pies this year, which are pretty incredible. What other new things do you have planned for Tiny Pies in the future? And what might people not know about your business?

We were super thrilled to launch our vegan pie this past summer and we're constantly working on new and exciting products. Last year we launched our Pecan Bites gift box, but this year we've created a new package and added an additional flavor. Each box of Pecan Bites contains 6 bites of our pecan pie and 6 of our turtle pecan pie. Additionally, we've just launched with a new single pie gift box that we're super excited about. The box has a window on the front and is wrapped in our Tiny Pies iconic images. It's so cute and only $6!

I feel that many people don't know that we offer savory pies. We offer savory vegetarian pot pies for lunch and dinner and wonderful bite size savory pies for parties and events.

 

Amanda, thank you for taking the time to answer these questions! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!