Jennifer Lyle started making Lemon “Butta” pies with her grandfather in the 90s in Detroit, no matter the season. They would shop for ingredients and return home with a bagful of lemons; they’d squeeze their juice into loads of melted butter, sugar and other goodies, and then bake it all in a handmade crust.
Twenty years later, Lyle decided this fourth-generation recipe was too special to keep in the family and turned her grandfather’s passion into the Lush Yummies Pie Co., dedicated to making pies like her grandfather taught her but with her own spin. Lyle began selling her pies at Detroit-area farmers markets and soon landed an order with her local grocery store chain. After struggling to get funding for her company, she turned to national competitions and attracted a couple of investors, which provided her with the funding she needed for new equipment, including her own delivery truck.
Lush Yummies was growing steadily until COVID-19 concerns forced her to shutter her business for several months in 2020. She lost most of her staff and her wholesale customers stopped ordering because pies were not essential products.
Like many other small businesses, Lyle had to quickly pivot her business efforts to focus almost exclusively on ecommerce and, with a little help from Lena Waithe – creator of the Showtime drama series The Chi
and Lyle’s sorority sister – she was able to get her sweet treats in front of a number of celebrity clients, which led to her inclusion on Oprah’s Favorite Things in 2020. After using shared kitchens in various church basements for several years, the added exposure boosted sales and allowed Lush Yummies to open its own kitchen.
Since then, there’s been a seemingly insatiable demand for Lyle’s lemon butter pies. The brand has a QVC launch this May; it is rolling out the brand’s first-ever influencer program along with new pie sizes in June. In the midst of such rapid growth, Lyle realized she needed the guidance and financial expertise of a business mentor to keep pace during this critical time for her business so she could take it to the next level.
Last Piece of the (Business) Pie
Late last year, Lyle was introduced to Bre Mills, a vice president and senior business consultant with Chase for Business, during a Banking Bootcamp. Mills, a second-generation entrepreneur herself, told Lyle about a new program at Chase for Business focused on accelerating minority small business growth through business development and mentorship, and offered to help.
“The support from Chase and Bre over the last four months has been critical for me and my business,” Lyle said. “It has helped me look at things from a broader perspective and lift my head out of the day-to-day work in the kitchen to create a clearer plan for the future of Lush Yummies.”
In just four months, Mills has been able to provide financial advice and direction to help Lyle understand how to build and manage her business capital and plan for upcoming business expenses to meet her company’s recipe for growth. Lush Yummies now has a clear strategy in place to get to the next level Lyle developed in partnership with Mills earlier this year.
“I have a strong belief in helping other women be successful,” said Mills, who is also from Detroit. “But to be planting seeds in another Detroit-based business is a dream. I hope it inspires other kids in our inner cities and prompts positive change in our communities.”
As part of JPMorgan Chase’s $30 billion Path Forward commitment to drive an inclusive economic recovery and advance racial equity, the firm launched a new program to help strengthen sustainable business growth for entrepreneurs in historically underserved neighborhoods. Through this initiative, small business owners in 13 cities across the U.S., including in Detroit, will be matched with a Chase senior business consultant who will provide advisory services such as mentorship, business development coaching, resources and financial planning. The program is available to all, Chase customers and non-customers alike.
To learn more about how Chase for Business is supporting minority entrepreneurs in the Detroit area, reach out to Chase for Business Senior Business Consultant Bre Mills at [email protected]