Our ChiBuys program supports minority and women-owned food vendors in the Chicagoland area and reflects 1871’s wider efforts to promote greater diversity and inclusion in the community. We thought we'd interview some of our participating vendors to hear their stories and preview their delicious dishes. Today, we chat with Maya-Camille Broussard, Founder of Justice of the Pies, about community, diversity, and why her pies are 100 percent guilty of being delicious.
Maya-Camille Broussard showcases her pies at 1871's ChiBuys Winter Tasting
- What makes Chicago a great place to build a business?
Chicago is historically very supportive of women-led and minority-owned businesses. The resources and support that are essential to succeeding as an entrepreneur come from various outlets: city, non-profit, or otherwise -- and Chicago understands that supporting small businesses is paramount to the city's economic power.
- What or who are your influences?
Claudia Gordon -- she was my mentor and the first black deaf attorney to graduate from an American law school. She's an advocate for disability rights and has helped me navigate some roadblocks as a businesswoman who has a disability. My Mom is also a major influence in my life; she has five degrees, and I'm just trying to keep up! The spirits of my grandparents are a personal influence because they give me absolutely no reason to complain -- neither of them graduated from high school and yet, they managed to own several business (including a bar, a liquor store, a number of motels, and the first black nursery school on Chicago's South Side) during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. If they've been able to succeed with the restrictions set upon them, then I have no excuses.
- How does community play a role in your business?
Community is key to supporting a small business. I believe that having a personal tribe to support you is needed, that customers who are loyal are needed, that suppliers and retailers who want to work with you are needed, and finally, having an amazing support staff is needed. You don't just work with these people or serve these people or simply just talk to them; rather, you build relationships with everyone you come in contact with and those relationships can become very valuable to your business. When the people you work with believe in the work you're doing, they subsequently become a part of your community.
- When was your greatest moment of doubt, and how did you push through?
This is my second business and I've learned so much from my first business that it has allowed me to be a much more proficient businesswoman. However, I do have smaller doubts that arise daily, weekly or monthly. I tend to just work with what I know until I get the answers I need to quell those smaller doubts.
- What's one thing on your menu we have to try?
The Bleu Cheese Praline Pear Pie. People sometimes shy away from the bleu cheese, but after trying it, they fall in love at first bite.
- If you had once piece of advice for an entrepreneur just starting out, what would it be?
Take your time. Rushing through things can sometimes hurt you -- be eager, but be careful.
- Can you sum up your approach to hospitality in one sentence?
My approach is to create amazing products, clean and distinctive branding, and awesome customer service.
Through the ChiBuys initiative, we put our money where our mouth is – literally! Over the past year, we have developed relationships with dozens of local, minority and woman-owned caterers throughout the city in an effort to direct our purchasing power with intention and thoughtfulness.
Learn more about ChiBuys at www.1871.com/chibuys.