Photography by Porter Loves.
“I want to give millennials a taste of the desserts that older generations grew up on. I want to introduce them to things they haven’t had and offer something new and interesting, besides cupcakes and cookies,” says Terina J. Hicks, U.S. veteran and owner of CobblerWorld.
Since 2014, CobblerWorld has offered nostalgic and unique confections that are slowly disappearing from modern bakeries and the lives of younger generations. Located at 1059 Penn Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh, PA, Terina’s shop is a delicious gateway into the world of classic peach cobblers, pound cakes, old-fashioned pies, and much more. For some customers, CobblerWorld’s products transport them back in time or remind them of their grandparents’ baking. Terina also experiments with interesting flavors and textures to create memorable desserts. Additionally, the products that are sold from the shop are personal sizes. Perfect for singles, college students or the more mature audience. However, full size products are available to order. In 2021, CobblerWorld’s products are reaching audiences in three Giant Eagle Market District stores in the Pittsburgh area and at Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor. But don’t worry if you can’t get to the store. CobblerWorld provides shipping to customers around the U.S.
CobblerWorld’s mouthwatering product line currently includes bread, cakes, cheesecakes, cookies, pies, gobs, and of course, cobblers. Terina is constantly gauging the products that her audience craves and offers holiday staples like pumpkin pie, sweet potato pie, strawberry pretzel salad, and banana pudding year-round. Terina also continually tweaks her recipes to take them to their highest potential.
Terina still uses her mother’s peach cobbler recipe, which she learned to bake when she was fourteen years old. Inspired by the southern tradition, every cobbler is carefully prepared in layers that marry sweet fruit and delectable dough. Even though her products expand beyond cobblers, Terina credits her mother for her baking skillset.
“…Learning to bake from my mom definitely gave me the skillset and the desire to bake, not knowing that decades later it would turn into a business…Baking is a skill that requires a lot of patience; everything has to be measured so that your product is consistent,” says Terina.
In addition to these classic treats that customers rave about, Terina develops unconventional desserts. She finds inspiration to play with new flavors in conversations with customers, trips to the grocery store, and cooking channels. CobblerWorld’s strawberry cobbler, bacon a la mode cheesecake, and chip chocolate cookies (chocolate cookies baked with potato chips) all began from these sources. As each new product evolves, Terina recruits her family in early-stage taste tests.
Product consistency has certainly played a role in CobblerWorld’s growth into several grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area. Within her first six months of business, CobblerWorld’s products were being sold in two Shop N’ Save locations that have since relocated. For Terina, many partnerships begin with a simple conversation that leads to new opportunities. For instance, after connecting with the manager of a Giant Eagle, Terina set up a small booth to sell CobblerWorld products in the store one morning. Every product sold out within three hours; for the next year, this Giant Eagle location sold CobblerWorld products in their bakery. Most recently, CobblerWorld has partnered with three Giant Eagle Market District locations in Shadyside, the Water Works, and Settlers Ridge. CobblerWorld is also partnering with Klavon’s Ice Cream Parlor, where customers can find CobblerWorld confections. Additionally, CobblerWorld is featuring Klavon’s Ice Cream with every cobbler purchase.
Like most small business owners during the Covid-19 pandemic, Terina didn’t know how she would pay her bills at first. She began offering door-to-door deliveries, which she coordinated and executed herself. The deliveries introduced more people to CobblerWorld, and some customers from the spring of 2020 continue to order today. To promote her delivery service, Terina started utilizing her social media pages more frequently.
“When I started delivering, the orders took off. I posted a menu every week on all of my social media sites…Because I’m always in the kitchen, I never utilized them in the way I should have. But the pandemic shifted me in that direction,” Terina says.
CobblerWorld now partners with Kindred Delivery, a Pittsburgh-based farmers market delivery service, as well as Grubhub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats. Terina’s Entrepreneurs Forever peer group also helps her implement new strategies to continue to foster her delivery service, like offering incentives to customers.
Terina always felt called to entrepreneurship and even started a juice company before launching CobblerWorld in 2014. As CobblerWorld has grown, Terina has developed a diligent schedule for filling client orders and hired employees. While hiring was especially difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic, Terina’s small business owner peers in her Entrepreneurs Forever group provided support and camaraderie. Terina’s group also helped her think through her pricing, which she has grown more confident in over time.
“When you’re new, the fear that no one will buy your products can cripple you. You buy all of the ingredients, containers, labeling, and under-price your products. Then you’re not making any money. Now I know my worth and what my product is worth,” says Terina.
Over the years, Terina has sought mentorships, business opportunities, and financial assistance from different non-profit and community organizations focused on entrepreneurial development. In 2020, Terina applied for Community Forge’s Bloom program (in partnership with Catapult Greater Pittsburgh and Entrepreneurs Forever), and joined a peer group of other small business entrepreneurs. For Terina, her peer group was the first resource that provided access to a variety of perspectives from other business owners that could help her make better business decisions. The mentor facilitating the group, LaToya Johnson-Rainey, helped Terina think differently about her finances. As a small business owner herself, LaToya understands many of the challenges that members face.
“LaToya walked us through this exercise that easily broke down our pricing; she said, ‘Work out how many products you have to sell to pay an employee, to pay your insurance, and to pay your rent.’ And I never thought about that. I just lineup all my bills and say, ‘This is what I have to pay.’ But LaToya gave me this different perspective that really helped. Now I know how many cobblers I need to sell.”Terina J. Hicks, eforever member
CobblerWorld is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Folks can also order online and get their products shipped to them anywhere in the U.S. Folks can also subscribe to CobblerWorld’s newsletter at cobblerworld.com to stay up-to-date on news and more!