Certified Pies:A Guaranteed Slice Of Goodness
Certified Pies owner Kreg and Samantha Stewart Q&A
What is your backstory? How did you get started and what made you decide to start your own business?
We originally met at Bryant High School. We dated for several years after high school. I went to college
at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, graduating with a bachelor’s
in business administration. Kreg became a truck driver and I worked in corporate America for almost 15 years.
By 2018 we had two sons, and knew we needed to change our eating habits to become healthier for our children. and worked opposite hours from each other. That is where our passion for cooking really began. We both had very demanding full-time jobs so we started cooking and meal- prepping every Sunday together, since we both had that day off. We would take our favorite meals and make healthier versions, but still pack a lot of flavors.
We created SpeakLife Foods as a side hustle on weekends to help other busy working parents. Over the next year, we increased our weekend clients to an average of 10 every weekend. Then came the pandemic in 2020. My husband lost his job. We decided that growing our side hustle into a full-time business would be best for our family.
Then in August 2020, the plan took a pivot after Kreg’s childhood friend, Harlem Wilson, came over and made a homemade pizza for his birthday. It was delicious and could be the focus of their new business model because there was a bigger market for pizza than for meal-prepped foods.
We learned there had never been a Black-owned pizza shop in Arkansas. We partnered with Harlem, and the
three of us created Certified Pies.
Tell us about your upcoming grand opening and new location.
From 2020 to 2023, we gained momentum and a loyal customer base, but we still had some barriers
to overcome. We initially started in a shared kitchen space, with no indoor dining for customers; curbside pickup and delivery were our only options. We focused on perfecting our craft and branding.
At the beginning of 2023 we were excited to sign the lease to our brick- and mortar-space. Our new Location is 9807 W. Markham St., in Little Rock. We are anticipating our grand re-opening will be in mid-August. We now have six employees and will be looking to grow to about 10 total employees at our new location. To start, we will be open Tuesdays- Saturday 11am-8 pm, and hope to add Sundays later.
Pizza is one of the most competitive food businesses in America. What separates Certified Pies from the local and national competitors?
Everyone loves pizza. It’s a product that is familiar to everyone but very different depending on where you
get it from. Where we differentiate our product is our dough. We have crafted a special dough recipe we have perfected over the years that our customers rave about. We also make our own red sauce and ranch in-house with our special seasoning blends.
How did you come up with the name Certified Pies?
Knowing that we would be the first freshly crafted Black-owned Pizza in Arkansas, we knew we had to provide a top-tier product. It had to be Certified. That’s how we came up with Certified Pies, where “It ain’t REAL, unless It’s Certified.”
What will your business look like if we check on Certified Pies in five years?
Our goal is to expand operations within 5 to 10 years with an additional location or possibly a food truck.