A PIE maker is ready to turn up the heat on her rivals after securing extra support for her business.

And qualified science teacher Zainab Bilal is hopeful she has the right formula for success after teaming up with Boost - the business growth hub for Lancashire.

Her Pie Heroes brand started in her kitchen at home but has now developed into a fully-fledged enterprise, working out of the Fort Street industrial estate, Blackburn.

Few other bakers can boast of burger, calzone and chicken taco recipes, wrapped up in pastry.

And Zainab and her firm Pie Mezzanae have also mastered Philly steak, peri chicken and veggie masala varieties to keep her one step ahead of the opposition.

The range has already secured silver medals at the British Pie Awards, in Melton Mowbray, in 2017, and she believes she may have been the first halal winner there.

Now after gaining advice from Boost, which is provided by the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and Lancashire County Council, with European Regional Development Fund backing, the sky could be the limit.

She is now looking to build up some additional support for her culinary creations and take on more staff, after being introduced to the scheme by adviser Yusuf Musa, from Enterprise4All.

Zainab said: “The Boost workshops and advice have been brilliant.

“Preparing a strategic plan changes your perspective and thinking. It makes you explore your ideas and tap into other areas you may not have considered.

“The professional connections I’ve made through Boost have also really helped me.

“Being able to get in touch with Yusuf for advice is like having another little door I can knock on.

“Andrew Leeming, from Boost, introduced me to Lancashire Forum, a peer network and business growth programme and I have really gained a greater business insight through this programme”

“I now have great plans, including recruiting two more staff this year, and developing a wider distribution network across the UK for 2020.”

Yusuf, who is employed as ‘growth explorer’ for Enterprise4All, added: “Zainab manages her pie production between working as a support facilitator at Blackburn College.

“She aims to work full-time on the business but is seeking support to learn more about the Fast Moving Consumer Goods market and distribution in particular, and to determine how much investment she needs to make along the way.

“Zainab benefited from the Boost Launchpad workshop and various masterclasses through the Growth Support Programme as it fits with her needs and aspirations for the business.

“The interest generated by her creative pie recipes has certainly been quite overwhelming. Since starting the Boost programme, demand for her authentic Pie Hero brand has significantly risen.”

The pair have outlined ambitions to grow the turnover of Pie Mezzanae to £260,000 over the next three years, once a structured plan is in place.

Zainab added: “Meeting people through Boost who are also starting up in business has also given me tremendous confidence.

“When you first start out it’s hard to know where to turn or who to talk to. It’s so reassuring to meet other people experiencing the same thing.”

Her little pie factory in Daisyfield, established since her tie-up with Boost, has inspired her to double or treble her targets.

She is now looking to secure fresh partners.