I gathered a group of my entrepreneurial gal pals this fall and headed out to Grace Bonney’s book tour event. I was excited to hear from new voices in the local girl boss community, and enjoyed listening to the panelist’s advice on running their own businesses. I loved Maya-Camille Broussard’s straight-forward and no nonsense advice, it sounded like she had a lot of confidence in herself and in her product. I wanted to meet her and taste her pie!
Fast-forward to December’s Renegade Craft Fair (btw Renegade founder Susie Daly was also on the book tour panel!), where Maya and I had the opportunity to connect over a quick piece of pie and shoot a few fun photos during the craft fair madness. I was pretty impressed with Maya’s ability to balance her pie booth, an assistant, an interview, and a photographer! Enjoy Maya’s interview and if you’re in Chicago, you can pre-order these kick-ass pies until end of day Tuesday, December 20th.
Special thanks to Anna Sodziak for the photography.
Centered By Design: Women Who MAKE Interview – JUSTICE OF THE PIES
- Name: Maya-Camille Broussard
- Age: 37
- Current title/company name: Owner, Justice of the Pies
- Years in operation: 2 ½ years
What are your first memories of making/being creative?
This is an extremely hard question. It’s like when someone asks you, “how did you come up with that?” You don’t think about it…you just do it. When you’re a creative, you just get into the zone of making without thinking about it or realizing that you’re “being creative” at the moment.
How did your education or past work experience give you the confidence to go out on your own as a small business owner?
I received my BFA from Howard University and my MA from Northwestern University. As part of my curriculum, I was required to teach theatre and fine arts as part of outreach programs. I continued working in that realm for several years until I landed a teaching job as an Art Teacher in a school on the South Side of Chicago. Working with the kids and talking with their parents inspired me to open up an art gallery with a bar in the South Loop of Chicago. I wanted to create a non-intimidating environment to view and collect art while providing a hub for creativity. There’s a clear line of continuity between my education, my work and my current work.
Tell us about the process of launching your business. Best parts? Biggest challenge?
Justice of the Pies is my second entrepreneurial endeavor. Having owned Three Peas Art Lounge, it has prepared me to be a more astute businesswomen with Justice of the Pies. First, I’ve learned to be more patient and to take my time in building my business. It’s okay to have a great idea and want to jump right into the fray of it all; however, there is a definite benefit to sitting back, pondering and planning/mapping everything out. The best part about Justice of the Pies is that I’ve been able to build my business with virtually no bakery. I don’t have a storefront currently and yet people are able to find me! However, EVERYONE can’t find me and so not having a brick and mortar also remains my biggest challenge.
What is your favorite part of the creative process? What inspires you and why?
My favorite part of the creative process is two-fold: 1) When an idea hits me out of the blue and I slowly smile as I think “oh…this shit is gonna be good”, I feel so good internally; 2) When I’m in the process of creating, I find it to be meditative. I honestly don’t like talking to people while I’m working. I currently work out of a kitchen share and I try to book my kitchen time during hours I think no one is going to be there. When I’m in a zone, I’m completely in that zone. Sometimes creativity requires no added conversation.
Also, I’m the kind of person that will talk to someone and some sort of word association within the conversation will set off another completely unrelated topic to discuss. I’m famous for introducing a completely NEW conversation within an existing one, and will do it mid-thought as if you read my mind and know exactly what I’m talking about once I’ve switched subjects. My friends have looked at me like, “what the hell are you talking about?” For that bizarre reason, oftentimes talking to people inspires me. Someone can be talking to me about how they love ginger tea, but they hate the way honey and ginger tastes together so they, thereby, cannot put honey in their ginger tea and its wreaking havoc in their entire tea-drinking-life. I’ll listen to them and think “Ooooh…they may hate ginger and honey, but I think I want to try a Honey Ginger Key Lime Pie.”
What is the best advice you have for other female entrepreneurs?
Women, across the board, tend to be smarter and more creative than their male counterparts. When a woman is a homemaker or a stay-at-home mama, she may be expected to cook several meals a week. However, when cooking becomes a profession, you’ll find that it’s dominated by men. Just because the culinary world is male-centric, it doesn’t mean that a woman cannot be just as talented and creative in the kitchen. Oftentimes women doubt themselves when they tend to be better at “it” (whatever that “it” is) anyway!
Do you have a design/creative philosophy, and if so, what is it?
- It’s actually a line from Batman: The Dark Knight, with Heath Ledger (rest in peace) as Joker in which he says, “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.”
- People assume that people who are in creative fields should do things for free or for little compensation because “being creative is easy” right? Negative. You are doing a disservice to your creative peers when you don’t require the rate that should be owed to you.
Imagine your business in five years. How would you like to grow?
Let’s see…I’m currently in select Whole Foods in Chicago. I’d like to expand to the entire Midwest and a few other major cities in the East Coast and Southern states. I have a few other retailers that I’m interested in supplying. I’d also like to build my own kitchen and storefront space. I have a few other goals, but I’m keeping them to myself for now (never spill all of your beans!).
Was there a moment you felt like you got your big break? What was it?
Eh. Not quite there yet. I get small breaks along the way (that I’m extremely grateful for) but that “big break” is still coming.
What do you enjoy most about the creative community here in Chicagoland?
I love how supportive everyone tends to be, especially the women. I love that I can call or email one of my creative peers and easily get a [good] referral for any creative service that I may need.
MAYA-CAMILLE’S Chicagoland Favorites:
- Favorite spot to get inspired: I am inspired when I go out to eat. Some of my favorite places include Irazu, Yassa, and Sweet Maple Café.
- Favorite florist: Check them out on Instagram: @i.owe.you.flowers
- Favorite place to shop for home décor/furniture/thrift: South Loop Loft! I LOVE that place!
- Favorite place for a sweet treat: Hey now! Justice of the Pies! Seriously, I love pound cake. I’ve yet to find anyone in Chicago that makes a MEAN pound cake outside of my Great-Auntie Ruby. I also love a cake that’s not too sweet and Sweet Mandy B’s has just the right amount of salt content to their cupcakes.
You can find out more about Maya and her pies at JUSTICE OF THE PIES. Thanks for sharing with us Maya! See you all next month for another interview!
XO – CLAIRE