Cooking was a huge part of Joye B. Moore’s life when she was young.
“It’s what the women in my family did. We would have great big Sunday Thanksgiving-style meals,” says Moore, who grew up in rural Goldsboro, N.C.
More than just nourishment in her home, food represented a way to connect with family and nature. Moore remembers sitting under a large pecan tree and eating the pecans that would fall off its branches, as well as eating fresh tomatoes right from the family’s garden.
“My grandma would carry salt and pepper shakers around in her apron,” she says of the outdoor excursions to the garden.
A thriving survivor of an untreated mentally ill mother, Moore spent a lot of time with her grandmothers, often helping in the kitchen under their watchful eye.
“We helped with dinner,” she says. “I would watch my grandmothers do what they do [best].”
Those early teachings laid the foundation for Moore’s current role as owner of Joyebells, a growing business that makes and sells sweet potato pies.
She chuckles when she remembers her first attempt at making a sweet potato pie for her husband.
“It was a disaster,” she says. “I don’t know what was wrong. I called my mother, and I was crying. My mother had to walk me through it. After she walked me through it, I was good to go.“
Moore began making sweet potato pies as gifts for friends and family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. “It became a tradition,” she says. “People wanted the pies. They would say, ‘Girl you need to sell those things.’”
Joyebells Pies for Sale
She didn’t consider selling the pies to the public until 2019 when the nonprofit where she worked restructured and her position was eliminated. “I had to make a decision. I said to myself, Know your worth and start your own business. That got the ball rolling to start Joyebells,” she says.
She used The Dairy Bar across the street from her work as a testing ground for the pie. “It gave me my first opportunity to see if people other than family and friends would consume the pie,” she says.
With the pie a success, Moore was on her way to becoming an entrepreneur. She began selling her pies around town through various outlets. But, when the pandemic hit, she had to reassess her markets.
“Through that experience I realized that we wanted to be wholesalers for retailers and grocery stores,” she said.
Today, her pies can be found in forty-four Food Lion stores throughout central Virginia and 222 Sam’s Club stores nationwide. And in April, she will make her Home Shopping Network premiere.
“That allows us to have nationwide shipping,” she says. “We are now in nineteen states and we are excited about that. I’m the CEO of a growing company, and I can’t believe it.”
Joye Moore and Life Changes
Moore started the business at the age of fifty-five. Now, she’s getting the company in a position to pass on to her children so she can retire and travel with her husband. One of her dreams is to create Joyebell’s Kitchen, where she introduces the best chefs and small businesses in the Richmond area. She visualizes a segment of the show called Kitchen-Groove, where she and her band sing live.
Music is an important aspect of her life. It always has been. Her mother had schizophrenia and the “times she was truly happy was when she was in the kitchen and listening to music,” Moore says, recalling her childhood. “There would be music blasting and dancing. It was a safe and happy place for me.”
Moore, an artist, singer-songwriter and entertainer, performed at Showtime at the Apollo in 1996 and has co-written and released three independent inspirational albums.
Her talents also extend into the world of writing with her personal memoir Hopefully Beautiful, an honest look at life growing up with an untreated mentally ill mother and finding herself homeless as a teen in Dallas.
“I wanted to make my contribution to removing cultural stigmas around mental health challenges that leave families unsupported; and to disrupt the ‘what happens in this house, stays in this house’ syndrome, a silent spirit-killer of children,” she says.
Accolades Stream In for Joyebells
Moore has been featured in several publications including Southern Living and has appeared on shows, such as the Today Show. She was named the 2022 Emerging Entrepreneur award from Metropolitan Business League and nominated for the Rising Star award for the National Association of Women Business Owners.
She is quick to point out that she “didn’t do it alone.” She says of making her business a success: “My husband is chief operating officer. My sister is director of production. Three of my children work in production.”
She hopes the business will continue through generations. She has three grandchildren, two three-year olds and one eight-year-old. Her eight-year-old grandson comes into the company’s commercial kitchen and sweeps. When they make pies at home, her grandson likes to de-string the sweet potatoes and whip up the mix.
“We talk about the piece and about social media so he can see the different sides of the business. He’s excited about the future. He tells me, ‘I am going to run Joyebells.’ I talk to him about legacy and what it means for him and his children. I just want to leave something,” she says.