We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Collins and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michelle, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Getting on the shelf of a retailer is the easy part. The more challenging part is getting off the shelf. Category Managers/Buyers’ ultimate goal is to meet or exceed their budgeted sales goals in your food category. If your product is not selling they will no longer carry you. The shorter your product’s shelf life, the more challenging this becomes. Case in point, I decided to purchase a competitor’s product from one of their wholesale accounts, a local supermarket chain. I ended up going to three of their advertised locations and their products were no longer on the shelves for sale. Pricing, packaging and product awareness are key factors in the CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry.

What should our readers know about your business?
Our product is quite innovative as it is truly unique and one of a kind. We made incredible strides in our first year. We were contacted by O Magazine and was selected as a semifinalist for Oprah’s Favorite Things holiday edition. Additionally, I was named Legacy Magazine top 40 Under 40 Black Professionals in Miami as the Founder and Owner of Chelle’s Cutie Pies. I saved the best for last. Edible South Florida Magazine, featured me as their “Edible Artisan” for their winter edition. Chelle’s Cutie Pies received a two page feature spread in the magazine. It has given the company more awareness within the Miami food scene, as well as with new customers and investors alike. My biggest takeaway from being a Chapman business school graduate was this question,  “what makes your product different, how is it innovative?” This question has been my guiding force throughout this journey and it has been quite the journey. It has been quite challenging with many mistakes and disappointments along the way. I have learned to overcome the challenges by learning to roll with the punches. I’ve learnt that you have to listen to that small voice inside of you that guides you. It is truly your guide. In the words of Founder and CEO Jamie Kern Lima “Learn who to turn up or turn down your microphone to.” 

Chelle’s Cutie Pies is the first company in the US to commercially market Japanese white sweet potato pies. We are 100% vegan and gluten free. Because our products are non gmo, soy free, dairy free, gluten free and low glycemic we are truly an inclusive not exclusive brand. Our mission to create comfort food that is great for the body and soul. Since my last feature, I have transitioned into a commercial kitchen and the goal is to gain sizable wholesale  accounts. My goal is to turn my brand into a full product line. I just introduced our newest product “Cutie Bites.” These are bite sized Japanese white sweet potato cookies. They are now available for purchase at the Coconut Grove Farmer’s Market. They will soon be available for purchase at our newest retail partner in South Beach. For customers looking to buy my products, you can find all my flavors (mini pies) at the Beehive Juice Bar on Bird Road in Miami. You can also purchase select flavors by the slice as well. You can find me at the Coconut Grove Farmer’s market every Saturday from 10:00am- 6:00pm.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
A stop on Friday evening to Sweet Liberty in South Beach is a must. It has been named one of the top ten bars in the world. Amazing food, eclectic music, people will definitely get up and start to dance once they are in the mood! On Saturday morning we’d definitely swing by the Coconut Grove Farmer’s Market . The must stop vendors to patronize include: Living Nectar for their natural drinks, Bangara, the best vegan Puerto Rican Food, Daddy’s Islandz to sample their Krack Korn, Unitaste for their Caribbean Ital food, Vegan Moon for amazing doughnuts, Brewing Life for the best Kombucha, Coco Landia Cafe for their, amazing vegan empanadas, JD’s Veg Mex for his delicious vegan Mex dishes, vegan/gluten cookies from Courtney’s Cookies! In the evening we’d go to KYU for dinner in Wynwood serving up many modern Asian style dishes. Afterwards, I’d take her to Sugar, the rooftop bar at the East Hotel in Downtown Miami. The skyline views are to die for! On Sunday morning for brunch we’d hit up Pinocchio on the Bay in Edgewater. It is French owned bakery cafe that overlooks Biscayne Bay, the views are stunning. Then we’d walk around Margaret Pace Park.  Sunday late afternoon we’d go South to  Black Point Marina in Cutler Bay. It is so relaxing at the marina. The food is unpretentious. if you are lucky you’ll see a croc!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I could not be where I am today without the continuous support and encouragement from my partner, David Sayre. He is my head of R&D and is the first person to give me feedback on my new flavors. He has been with me every step of the way including the making of my very first pie. He is always there for advice as well as to play my devil’s advocate. He has been with me every step of the way and has been with me every Saturday at the Farmer’s market, advertising and selling my pies with me.

Also, I would like to acknowledge my grandfather George Collins. He has been avid supporter of me and the company from it’s inception. He was the first person to order my diabetic friendly flavor, Sweet Serendipity. He also has provided me sage advice and has been instrumental with me being able to move my production into a commercial kitchen.

Website: https://www.chellescutiepies.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chellescutiepies

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chellescutiepies

Image Credits
Denis Moreira

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutMiami is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.