This weekend I sat down with Briana Carson, Owner and PiEvangelist at Crave Pie Studio. She is serving up seasonal, artfully crafted pies for the community. We shared coffee, pie, and stories at a little table inside her retail store in Duluth, Georgia.
“My mom had a lot of wanderlust and wanted to move around when I was growing up. She was a single mom, and when the right moment came we would pick up and move to the next place. We moved around in New England: Boston, New Hampshire, Cape Cod… and I spent my teenage years in Florida. I went to five different high schools. It was hard on me. I’m an introvert, so the complication of being an introvert in a new school was difficult. I know I didn’t connect very much. And when I did make connections it was transient. You know, it was just over. There wasn’t time to form strong bonds.
Out of high school I didn’t go to college, I traveled Europe on and off for five years. I was based in the Netherlands and would get odd jobs to keep going, and fly back to Boston to earn a little money. About 5 years into this I was back in Boston waitressing and I decided I needed a grown-up job.
So I started working in banking, had the 9 to 5 job, the corporate job, the steady work, the steady paycheck, and benefits. Then the economy tanked, and Boston was tough. But I had seen the announcement that the Olympics were going to be coming to Atlanta. Things looked much more vibrant in the economy here and there were a lot of opportunities. So I came to Atlanta in 1991 and I thought I would stay until the Olympics in 1996.
It probably took me three years to mellow out, and wear down my Boston rough edges and realize “It’s nice here! People are very friendly and lovely.” And I wasn’t as stressed out as I was in Boston. I remember going back up North and feeling the tension creeping back into my body from being there. And I thought, “You know, maybe I don’t want to move back to Boston.” So in 1994 I decided Georgia was going to be my home. And I love it here. I have finally been able to put down roots.”
The Corporate Job
“When I came to Georgia I got a job at a predecessor company to Verizon, called GTE. I was hired as an administrative assistant and worked my way up to being an executive administrative assistant, then some supervisory management roles. But in the telecommunications industry there were so many changes, companies being bought and restructured. I tried to remain flexible and go with the flow so that I wouldn’t get laid off.
I ended up surviving for 20 years through all the various reorganizations. It was a 20-year run. But towards the end it was a really, really stressful environment because people didn’t know when they were going to be laid off. It wasn’t predictable. Initially you knew that lay-off announcements would be made annually in December. Then it went to quarterly. Then it was almost weekly, and it was random. You couldn’t figure out who was going to go next. There was so much stress.
I decided that if I got the next cut I would just move on to the next thing. I said, “I’m not going to shed any tears.” I had a great run and had a lot of great opportunities, I made a great salary, and benefits. It was a great run. But I when my time came, there wouldn’t be any tears.
So when it finally happened in 2010, after those 20 years, I knew that I didn’t want to go into another corporate company. It would be like ending one marriage just to hop into another marriage. I just needed to chill for a little while and figure out the next thing.”
Culinary School Inspiration
“I thought, “You know, it would be fun to go to culinary school.” Early on in my career I had considered going but with my job and raising a family I got caught up in all that. So I thought, “I’m going to take this summer and do it. Maybe being in that environment I’ll be inspired and figure out what I want to do next.”
I went into culinary school loving savory food. During my interview with the director I asked her if I had to take Baking 101. And she said, “You have to take Baking.” So I sucked it up and took Baking. It was really, really hard but really eye opening.
While baking every week to practice for class, I fell in love with it. I enjoyed baking pies and giving them to people. All baked goods give a nostalgic feeling, but pie more so in my opinion. And I love that it can be different season to season, and it can be savory. Doing the same thing all the time just doesn’t appeal to me. Maybe that’s how my traveling years have manifested now! I knew pies would be something I could do without getting bored. So I dropped out of culinary school and devoted myself to making pies!”
Read about her “Pie of Second Chances“, and grab a recipe for lemon meringue pie too.