Virginia Woman Turns Family's Sixth-Generation Sweet Potato Pie Recipe into Booming Business
Joye B. Moore is a sixth-generation sweet potato pie baker, using a recipe passed down from great-great-great-grandmother, Susan-Mae Howell, to the women in her family.
Moore spent 30 years baking sweet potato pies to give as gifts during the holidays.
"I was always told 'girl, you need to sell these pies,' and I would always counter with 'one day!'" she told Southern Living.
That one day came for Moore in the summer of 2019 when she was laid off from her job.
"I had a decision to make. Start all over and let someone else decide my worth or know [my own]," she recalled. "Joyebells Sweet Potato Pies were officially born and launched October 1, 2019."
Within a month, business was booming.
"We sold more than 300 pies the week of Thanksgiving. When we got to Market @ 25th with the pies, there was a huge crowd waiting for us," Moore told Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We rounded the corner and they yelled, 'There she is.'"
Not long after, she was invited to compete in a live pie cook-off on Today.
With help from her sister, husband and two children, Joyebells continues to grow. They're currently churning out about 320 pies a week from a coworking kitchen space in Richmond, Virginia.
Her secret? Moore says it's a combination of things. The six-generation legacy is certainly compelling, but it's also backed up by taste—"smooth, creamy, Southern, backwoods, country deliciousness."
There's a reason the company slogan, is "Yes! It's THAT good!"
Joyebells pies recently became available at Food Lion grocery stores in Virginia and will soon be in other locations throughout the Southeast. Moore hopes that one day her pies—and a full line of desserts—will be available nationwide.
Despite her success, Moore says that's she's most proud of her family.
"We have rallied together to ensure Joyebells succeeds," she said. "Knowing that we are proactively working together to change the trajectory of our family's future—our children, grandchildren, great, great-great and great-great-great grandchildren—inspires us. We are actually building generational wealth… a legacy!"
We're sure great-great-great-grandmother Susan-Mae would be proud too!