Chef Joy Haskins Launches an Accessible Market and Community Space Focused on Nutrition, Wellness, Sustainability and Education

By Jenny Taylor

Joy Haskins is the recipient of a micro grant from Publish Her Story, a program dedicated to providing resources to female-identifying founders. Since 2018, more than $250,000 in grants and services have been donated to women business owners.

Joy Haskins was proud to be making it on her own. After high school, she decided to dive headfirst into the workforce and quickly found a job as a nanny. She moved out of her parents’ house in West Baltimore, Maryland, and into her own apartment. She taught herself how to cook and was thriving in her new young adult life. Then her health took a turn: At the age of 20, Joy was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Joy soon found herself dealing with pneumonia, asthma and weight gain as well. She was shocked to learn that the home cooked meals she was preparing weren’t doing her health any favors. The food was too processed and contained too many unhealthy ingredients. Joy realized she needed to make a change to her diet and lifestyle or face a lifetime of illness and medication.

A fast learner and an eager student, Joy quickly amassed new culinary skills using fresh ingredients. Healthy cooking became her passion. She tested her skills on her nanny clients and created her first blog, EatsandSuch, which evolved into her own private dining and catering business. In addition to eating well, Joy began focusing on her overall well-being, finding time to be active each day and using organic and sustainable products. Her health improved, and Joy felt gratification in improving her lifestyle on her own, with limited resources available to her.

In 2016, Joy decided to leave her hometown to hone her culinary skills working in the elite restaurants of Tampa, Florida. She also decided to stop nannying so she could invest more time in her passion for food and wellness. Known professionally as Chef Joy, she launched a private chef and catering business on the side and successfully worked her way up in the Tampa food scene.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, the restaurant where she’d been working as lead chef was temporarily closed. Joy initially began selling homemade sauces, spices and jams from home to help make up for the income she was losing. But as she witnessed the devastating impact the virus was having on the Black community, Joy felt compelled to help. She knew firsthand how nutrition and wellness could combat disease, and she wanted to share that knowledge with her community. She resigned from her position at the restaurant and threw herself into building her own business. Joy quickly raised capital through a Go Fund Me campaign. Her vision: a market and community space focused on nutrition, wellness, sustainability and health education—all accessible to anyone who needs it. Within a few months Thyme and Bloom became a reality and brought immediate benefits to the community.

At Thyme and Bloom Market, vendors sell sustainable and ethical food, household items and self-care products. It’s important to Joy that she helps business owners who don’t traditionally receive support, so she intentionally seeks out vendors who are Black, female, queer and from other underrepresented groups. Back when Joy began her journey towards a healthy diet and lifestyle, she found that nutritious foods, natural supplements, and other holistic products were expensive and difficult to find. With Thyme and Bloom Market, she has made these items accessible to a community that previously went without.

The Thyme and Bloom Community provides hands-on nutrition and agricultural education, showing people ways to heal themselves physically and mentally through food and wellness. In addition to classes and events, Joy planted an indoor herb garden containing both culinary and medicinal herbs customers can help themselves to for free. A weekly open food pantry contains fresh and shelf-stable items as well as personal care and baby items for anyone in need. A free hot lunch is served on pantry days, and a mobile food pantry is in the works to reach those unable to make it to the market. A commercial kitchen provides an affordable option for chefs and vendors who need a licensed space to operate their businesses. The Thyme and Bloom Community relies heavily on volunteers and donations, and Joy is grateful to the supporters who continue to rally around her business to bring her vision to life.

Ultimately, Joy wants people to see that they are not stuck to their past or current circumstances. “With accessible education, resources and support, my community will be able to overcome challenges with their physical, mental and emotional health,” she said. “As a community we can improve our lifestyles and the world we live in.”

Photo credit: Thyme and Bloom

About the Author

Jenny Taylor is a marketing strategist and freelance writer who enjoys bringing inspirational stories to life through the written word. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three kids.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all. Publish Her specializes in print-on-demand books, workbooks, journals, magazines and more.