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International Women's Day Spotlight: Present

Allison Pirrie owns the wonderful Farmers Market bakery stall Gourmet Gannet. With a beautiful range of hand-made artisan breads, pastries, cakes, doughnuts and other delicious goodies, she can be found 5 days a week at the Catalina Bay Farmers Market

In honour of International Women’s Day, we asked Allison a few questions about the women that have inspired her journey, advice she has for aspiring business owners and what the future holds for Gourmet Gannet.

Tell us a little bit about how you started Gourmet Gannet?

Gourmet Gannet started as a cooking school out at Muriwai Beach, hence the name. From that I opened a ‘pop up’ patisserie store in Waimauku. After 6 months I took on a bigger commitment with our existing shop in Huapai. We started with a small team of 2 people working at the bakery/shop and have now grown to a team of 9. Initially I worked through the night from 6pm to 7am the next day, but I never got used to the hours and sleeping through the daytime. After a year I changed the production process, introducing more sourdough bread which meant a slow fridge fermentation overnight. This also meant baking in the morning rather than through the night as the bread would be ready to bake once you came in. We no longer work through the night but we do start between 3am-4am.

What is your favourite item that you sell and why?

I love our range of sourdough bread and eat it every day. But we also now have a very talented cake baker, who introduces new seasonal cakes all the time. I try not to eat them every day though, but it’s not easy.

How long have you been a stall holder, and how has your experience been?

Gourmet Gannet has been a stall holder for two and a half years. We have been very fortunate to grow our business alongside the Farmers Market. The growth of the Farmers Market and area is the reason we decided to open another bakery in Catalina Bay. We have a great group of stall holders who support each other.

What advice do you have for other aspiring female business owners?

Surround yourself by good, honest, talented people. You can’t build a successful business on your own, it’s a good team that will help your business grow. We spend most of our time in a work environment so it’s important to really love what you do. You miss out on a lot of personal events because of business commitments and unsociable hours, it’s good to have friends and family who understand this.

What do you think makes Catalina Bay a unique farmers market?

Catalina Bay, has to be the best setting for a farmers market. It’s a beautiful location by the water and the market has an amazing building and facilities for all weathers.

Which females are you inspired by? 

My gran was always an inspiration for me and taught me to bake. My early memories are of me sitting on the kitchen bench, aged 5, and her teaching me to make cakes. 

What does the future hold for Gourmet Gannet?

Gourmet Gannet is currently going through an exciting stage of growth. We are soon to open a new baking premises at Catalina Bay, located behind the building the farmers market. We have outgrown our Huapai bakery and need extra space to add more ovens. Catalina Bay seemed the natural choice with the exciting growth in the area.

If you would like to read about our International Women's Day Spotlight: Past, you can do so here.