TJ Peach of Susie’s Shortbreads
Chalk it up to a taste for nostalgia, but cupcakes are hot-especially on a 30-degree day in early August when the air conditioning quits in one of the Halifax retail bakeries owned by Saint Mary’s alumna TJ Peach and her husband, graphic designer Brad Thompson.
“Every day poses a new challenge,” says Peach, who discovered a recipe for success in the buttery cookies perfected over the years by her mother, and business namesake, Susan.“My mother thought it was crazy when I suggested marketing her shortbread cookies,” recalls Peach, “but she was more than willing to help.”
After registering the name Susie’s Shortbreads, Peach and Thompson tested the waters at the Halifax Farmer’s Market in 2006. “It was a hobby business at first,” says Peach. “I was still working full time in market research and we were only selling cookies at that point.”
The business went “real” in 2008 with a storefront location in Halifax. “Sales for the second year were 170% higher than in the first year,” says Peach. “When we opened another store in Bayer’s Lake, sales grew again by 56%.”
Specialty cupcakes took the business to new heights, and Thompson’s distinctive packaging and promotion earned Susie’s Shortbreads profiles in local newspapers and television, and in large circulation magazines such as Reader’s Digest, Chatelaine, Canadian Living, and Weddingbells.
“Many people in the business community have been shocked by the brand we’ve been able to build in such a short time,” says Peach. “I’m a firm believer in luck, and being in the right place at the right time, but I don’t believe we got here by accident.”
Sobey School of Business
Peach attributes her success, at least in part, to her B.A. in psychology from Saint Mary’s and MBA in Human Resource Management from the Sobey School of Business.
“I strongly believe that’s what helped me start and grow my business,” she says. “You can have the best product in the world, but you’re doomed to failure if you can’t manage money and deal with people, inventory and quality control.”
With production of cookies and cupcakes ranging from several hundred to several thousand pieces a day, two stores to run, and a stall to staff at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market, there’s not much down time at Susie’s Shortbreads.
“The reward is that we get to be a part of the important milestones in people’s lives: the weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and new babies,” says Peach.
And the icing on the cake?
“Sharing those milestones creates an important emotional connection between a business and its consumers,” she says, “and that creates brand loyalty.”