Virginia woman uses 'legacy' family recipe to create sweet potato pie business

Joye B. Moore and Joyebells pies
Posted at 10:50 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 22:51:39-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- While sweet potato pie will grace many Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, one Richmond woman is baking them up by the hundreds, turning a family recipe into a growing business.

"I'm just thankful that God is blessing, touching hearts, opening doors."

Joye B. Moore is passionate about pies.

"Honey, JoyeBells sweet potato pies are smooth, creamy, southern, backwoods country deliciousness in a pie," Moore said.

She uses a family recipe to create her sweet potato goodness.

"It's my third great grandma's legacy recipe. Sarah Mae Howe," Moore said.

For six generations, the tradition has been passed down from mother to granddaughter. Today, Joy and her sister Cassandra are keeping it alive.

"We make 1,826 pies a month."

After years of considering turning the tradition into a pie backing business, life gave Joye the push she needed.

"My position was restructured at the nonprofit that I worked for in 2019 which gave me my big kick and push out the door," Moore said.

Joye Bells Pie was launched in 2019 and the small business has been run on love and the energy of five family members ever since.

"We have learned all of this on the grow. Prayer, stumbling, falling, getting back up, scuffing the elbow, scuffing the knee," Moore said.

Throughout the struggles, there has been a lot of growth.

"We just get so excited knowing and hearing the responses of how our pies and desserts make people happy and bring people together," Moore said.

Customers can now find Joye's pies in some local grocery stores.

"We have grinded and grinded. We are now in Food Lion and Sam's Clubs."

Life is becoming a lot better for a woman who experienced a lot of pain.

"I am a thriving survivor of an untreated, mentally ill mother. There was a lot of physical, mental and sexual abuse in the house which led me to run away from home at the age of 14," Moore said.

The experiences would be challenging for anyone, especially so for a child.

"I lived in abandoned houses, ate out of dumpsters," Moore said.

Even in those dark moments, Joye knew there was more out there in the world for her.

"I never forgot. I just always remembered there has got to be something better, there is something better for me."

With that mindset, Joye pushed through the difficulty and even inspired others.

"Even when I am sad, if you see me, I'm smiling and I am happy to see you," Moore said.

A pie story rich in tradition carries a lesson.

"If I can do this, anyone can," Moore said.

She is proof that bitter beginnings can have really sweet endings.

"I know that we are selling sweet potato pies but I feel like we are selling love, we are selling inspiration."

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