One couple made their culinary creations into a full-time career

9 March 2021

Chris Fryer and his wife Sarah from Newcastle-upon-Tyne were both ready for new careers; Chris was a full-time teacher while Sarah was a medical secretary.  Not only that, but as life-long vegans and vegetarians, they were equally tired of the lack of suitable comfort food options available to them. The supermarket shelves were filled to the brim with dairy and meat products, but there were few treats for their dietary requirements. Knowing they weren’t alone, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for a business idea. So, following a year of culinary experimentation in their home kitchen, the Fryers launched Magpye in March 2019: a vegan pie company. From steak and ale pies that are rich enough to rival the real thing, to Chris’s personal favourite, roasted butternut squash and brussel sprout pie, Magpye have a wealth of indulgent, plant-powered pies to choose from – and they’re all handmade. Plus, Magpye has enabled both Chris and Sarah to leave their old careers well behind. In its earliest days, Magpye sold their plant-based pies out of a converted horsebox trailer, which Chris and Sarah took to events around the local area. Chris says, ‘we started selling our piping hot pies with mash out of the trailer and I still worked part-time to make ends meet. We just relied on passing trade.’ These delicious meat-free goodies grew in popularity throughout the neighbourhood, and the Fryers had a full summer calendar lined up for 2020, taking the horsebox on tour to music events across the county. But when the pandemic hit, this all ground to a halt. With social distancing measures in place for the foreseeable future, Magpye had only two options: to hit pause and wait for everything to blow over or go digital. Online business: It’s easy as pie ‘Once it became clear in mid to late March 2020 what was about to happen with coronavirus, that was when we decided it was time to go digital and set up a website,’ reveals Chris. ‘Prior to that, we had no online presence at all.’ Chris already had a dormant domain name for Magpye which he’d bought via GoDaddy. So, it only seemed right that he used them to build his website, too. ‘When we came to setting up a website, I went to check on the domain and learnt that GoDaddy had an actual website builder advertised with a month’s free trial,’ he reveals. ‘Before I knew it, I’d signed up and I was really happy with how it worked. And as it was a month’s free trial, I had nothing to lose giving it a go – but it proved to be worth it anyway.

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