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Lady Pie aka Susan Usher

Lady Pie (aka Susan Usher) is one of Phuket Island’s best-known personalities. Known for her cheery, ever-smiling face and her blisteringly positive attitude towards life, Susan also bakes a mean pie and her Lady Pie outlet in Cherng Talay is a busy centre of activity.

February 2015

Where are you from?
I’m from Cooma, Snowy Mountains, Australia.
When did you move to Phuket? I first arrived in 1993, I went away in 1997 then came back in 1999 but when I first came to Phuket
I stayed in Holiday Inn, looked out of the window and thought, “Why on earth do people come to this place?” But then I came back!
What made you decide to live here? Well, I sailed here, dropped anchor and that was that!

What did you do before you came to Phuket?
I was a bank manager then I was a business development manager.

Did you come here to set up a business?
No, like I said, I came here and dropped anchor then the business sort of took care of itself – I suppose you could say it was through a sheer love of pies as I was making pies for the boys at the yacht club and they loved them so the more they wanted the more I made. Then supermarkets started expressing interest in my products and that grew bigger and bigger until nowadays where we find ourselves very busy indeed.

Tell us something about Lady Pie and how it evolved
I believe Lady Pie became successful by me being totally and utterly ignorant of Thai laws so I’ve sort of stumbled on through the years and learned a lot from it. “Ignorance is bliss,” if you want, like when I applied for licenses that are needed if you produce food to sell in supermarkets. I went along to the Department of Health to get the necessary papers and I had to go back countless times. To cut a long story short if I’d have known back then what I know now (how complicated paperwork can be here) things maybe would have been a bit different.

How does doing business here compare to back home?
Well, maybe there’s not so much red tape here as back home, or maybe
I haven’t noticed it. People say there’s a lot of red tape in both places but I’ve never been in business in Australia so I’m not sure.
Where do you live in Phuket? I live in Kamala.

What determined your choice of location?
Well, I originally lived in Chalong but my husband Harry got a job in Kamala so we moved up north.
Do you own your house or do you rent it? No we rent it for only 8,000 baht a month but we’ve probably put in over a million baht worth of renovations to it. We adore it because it’s right near the beach.
What kind of car do you drive? A Mazda 3 hatchback because it looks sporty, it can go fast, and I can do pie deliveries with it as the back seats fold down.

What do you like most about living in Phuket?
The people that
I meet and the friends you can make here. The people who live here are, for the most part, interesting and different from the types you’d meet back home and that’s nice.

And what’s the most frustrating thing about living here?
Well, people talk about the traffic and they do go on grumbling and groaning but I never complain about anything! I just adore living here! It’s as simple as that.
How old are you? And what do you think the future holds for you? I’m 61 and a half… The future? I’ll always live in Phuket but now that the business is established I can leave that in the hands of my coworkers and go off and do trips – sailing, road trips upcountry. Both Harry and I love the north of Thailand. And we have just come back from Krabi where we escaped the Christmas and New Year madness. We have a trailer sailor that we can unpack anywhere and head off out to sea. We spent a week there and Krabi is stunningly beautiful. We were in Ao Luk which is totally away from everything.

Do you ever imagine going back to Australia?
Well yes, but really only for holidays. Thailand is my home now. I can’t speak Thai but my girls (staff) told me never mind, you’re too old to learn now! But the positive thing about that is that hardly any of my girls could speak English to begin with but now they all speak it with an Australian way, talking about ‘Aussie pies’ and they’ll say, “See ya!” as if it’s totally normal!

How do you achieve success?
To always remain positive, to accept criticism as a positive thing, and to always be consistent, never change or compromise.

What do you do with your free time?
I love spending time at my house toddling around and one other thing I love is to go to the Hash Harriers. They’re still as silly as ever… Same same… (laughs).
Are you involved in any local charities or clubs, organisations? I support a couple of charities in my café through donations (the Lady Pie outlet has a stand selling multipurpose greeting cards in support of The Good Shepherd Christian charity) but I’m not on any committee – I’m not a committee person.

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