Small Business Profile: Maya-Camille Broussard, Owner of Justice of the Pies - Chicago
Hi Maya-Camille! Tell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Maya-Camille Broussard and I am a creative entrepreneur from Chicago, IL.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I previously owned an art gallery with a bar in the South Loop of Chicago. I graduated from Howard University and Northwestern University with my degrees in theatre. My past positions that I've held have always been creative + art related; especially in the space of education. I've been a dance teacher, a theatre teacher, a creative writing teacher, an art teacher, and now I love to teach kids how to bake in the kitchen! Being so deeply embedded in the arts has honed by skills as a storyteller and I believe that it's a skill that's helpful to have when you're building a successful entrepreneurial endeavor. People not only buy what you're selling, they are also invested in the story of why you sell.
What led you to start Justice of the Pies? Why pie?
I created the company in memory of my late-father, Steve Broussard. He was a criminal defense attorney who had a hobby for baking and eating pies. I created the company to celebrate his obsession with pies and to honor his belief that people deserve second chances.
Part of your business is creating positive impact people's lives. Could you tell us more about I KNEAD LOVE and the other community work that you do?
The I KNEAD LOVE Workshop teaches basic kitchen skills and nutritional development to middle school-aged kids from lower-income communities. Our goal is to contribute in the fight against food insecurities. That involves educating young adults how to cook for themselves and how to get excited and creative about being in the kitchen! We've been activating workshops for the past three years and we're excited with how the program has grown.
We also have other initiatives that involve supporting other organizations such as the Cabrini Green Legal Aid, a non-profit that provides free legal assistance for families living in poverty, and Humble Design, a non-profit that provides furnishings for families and veterans transitioning out of homelessness. Justice of the Pies has collaborated with these organizations by holding pie drives to raise money for their causes.
What goes into your recipe creation? What's a flavor that people can look forward to trying soon?
I get a lot of inspiration from various places when creating new recipes. I'm currently creating pies inspired by my sneaker collection; the kids I work with really love that and can relate to that- and it encourages them to do the same. I also create pies inspired by people I've met and places I've eaten on my travels. This spring, I'm introducing the Hummingbird Pie, which is made with pineapples and bananas and topped with a cream cheese and butter frosting. I'm also excited to be creating a new type of way to enjoy pie; it's a cool combination of flavors and it's a top secret! You'll have to wait to find out what I've got up my baking sleeves!
3 pantry essentials?
I love a good silicon spatula. OXO offers a trio of spatulas that are heat-resistant (which is crucial) and come in three different sizes (which is so important.) Of the trio, they've got one that is tiny and curved and is perfect for getting the very last drop of some pricey lemon ginger honey in the bottom of a hard-to-reach jar I've got in my cabinet. I do not want to waste a drop of that! I also need flour and sugar. You can do so much with just that and some fat: pie crust, pancakes, biscuits, whatever you like...just a little starch and a little sweetness can go a long way. The third essential is a wine bottle opener. If you're not imbibing some fermented grapes while you're cooking, then we can't be friends!
How do you interact with your customers and community? Where can people come grab one of your pies?
We are very interactive with our customers. Our entire team loves our supporters and loves to hear from them. You can find our pies at Build Coffee or at Blind Barber. This season, you can also find us at the Daley Plaza Farmers Market, Bridgeport City Market, 425 Farmers Market, Renegade Craft Fair, Silver Room Block Party, Hyde Park Art Fair AND at our new location on the Chicago Riverwalk, 65 E. Riverwalk (between Michigan and Wabash)
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
I am passionate about being in the position and space where I get to create, share my knowledge with young people, and help others along the way.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
Whoooo child...I don't think we have enough time or enough paper to write about that today. That could be another interview, symposium, or lecture quite honestly. Let's just say that whatever challenge I've faced is not to be dwelled upon. The most important element of any good entrepreneur is persistence- not talent, not knowledge- but persistence.
What are some of your short/long term goals?
So, I write down my goals on a sheet of paper at the beginning of each year and I leave it alone. That is my way of manifesting what I want for my life. I write it down, leave it alone and wait (expect) it to come true. A part of leaving it alone and allowing the magic to happen is to not talk about my goals. I'm known within my friend circle for never talking about what I've got planned or what I want for Justice of the Pies. I'll make it known after everything has already been signed, sealed and delivered. Also, it's important to point out that much like how opinions change, your plans and wishes can change too. No sense in broadcasting your wishes until they've become true.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
I think it’s important for women to support each other because we are nurturers by nature. Whenever you're faced with the mountainous feat of running your own businesses or being the lone woman in the C-suite of a major company, the nurturing support of other women surrounding us helps to ease the stress and self-doubt that we are often faced with. There's nothing like a solid mentor or sister-friends who uplift and encourage you in the most gentle (yet stern) way possible. That's love.
We have a series called Purchase from Women - what women owned businesses are you encouraging with your dollars?
YES! I love this! YOU MUST BUY FROM:
Found Objects by Angelica Callanta, October Lotus by Asha Dickens, Sir & Madame by Autumn Merritt.
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
I am still learning self-care and saying "No, thank you." I'm want to learn how to sleep without waking up at 3:30 in the morning with anxiety!
In all seriousness, when I travel, I love to learn how to make something from that specific region. I went to Costa Rica and properly learned how to properly make patacones. I'm looking forward to going back to Jamaica to learn how to make meat patties in coco bread. Who wouldn't love to go to Italy and learn how to make a melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi? I'm determined to go back to Dakar and learn how to smash an amazing Senegalese Thieboudienne. I want to travel and learn more cuisines.
What are some of your favorite places in Chicago?
Remember I said that thing earlier about not having enough time and enough paper. That list is soooo long! Let's set up a date for that talk!