I want to help [women] to realize, regardless of those who walk away, stay true to those who stay and who recognize the truth in you.— Chef Moe.
The journey towards success is no cake walk for Sophia “MOE” Kelley. As a culinary artist and Creative entrepreneur, Moe pays tribute to her grandmother for being the epitome of love needed to accomplish her greatest successes.
“I’ve always had a passion for cooking. Although my dad is a cook- not a professional chef, he taught me how to make my first dishes: a simple breakfast of eggs and pancakes. It wasn’t much at the time but by the age of 14 I was deemed the cook in the house. I honor my Dad for what he taught me, yet it was my Grandma that really gave me the tools in the kitchen.”
Reminiscing on her first moments in the kitchen, Moe shares her fondest memories of her Grandma taking her fishing, showing her how to scale, cut and cook the fish.
“I was only 5 years old when my Grandma would buy me cookbooks! I didn’t realize it much at the time because growing up I was really interested in dancing, but cooking is my gift”.
Born and raised in one of America’s most notorious cities, Stockton California, Moe put herself to one of life’s greatest tests and moved away from home after graduating Edison Sr. High School.
“…I wanted to see if I could do it. I wanted to see if I had what it took to be ok so far away from home. So I moved to Las Vegas to attend culinary arts school”.
It wasn’t until she took another leap on a visit to see a friend in Atlanta, Georgia that Moe realized, her dreams were growing much bigger and further than she initially believed.
“The first thing I noticed when I came [to Atlanta] was the southern hospitality. I loved all of it: the Culture and the people. I love the Black culture. [I remember] I said to myself, I’m going to move here and I did in 2008”.
Seemingly living a typical life, Moe experienced some of life’s harshest struggles. Poverty and even facing judicial realities, Moe is no stranger to the ugly truths of ‘hard times’. “…I’ve never been homeless, but I’ve had lights turned off and noodle days…”
“It’s still hard for me sometimes but I continue to remind myself that it’s just a storm and it’ll pass. I guess that’s an affirmation but I don’t call it that, it’s just my truth. [God] did it before and He’ll do it again. Meaning, no matter how bad it got for me, I always came out of it and I’m ok”.
Spoken with a tone of secured faith, Moe honors her Grandma for giving and being an example of what she needed in the hardest times. Softened with admiration, Moe shares the key to her connection with her Grandma- “… LOVE! And the fact that I’m born on her birthday. But, really [my Grandma] has always shown me AGAPE love. No matter what I did; no matter what I’ve been through, she continued to tell me ‘Baby, I love you. Ask God to forgive you…’ I can remember she always loved me that way and I just want to thank her for that because she’s been through a lot too so I know it comes from her heart”.
Drenched in love and fueled by her passions, Moe has come to a place in life where she knows her purpose.
“There are a lot of things I’m good at. I’m a talented person, but I know that I am meant to cook. Sometimes being creative feels like a blessing and sometimes it feels like a curse because I still struggle with balancing it all. One day I can start on a project and I’m great at it then the next I’m doing another. It’s hard for me to balance a lot of the time”.
Moe continues to share in life’s common struggles, “ …being an entrepreneur has put a strain on my family life because I take care of so many people. I’ve come to a place in my life where I’m learning the importance of getting back to self-care. Getting back to who I am and how I like to be. There are times when the transitions of being a business owner has affected my dating life. I don’t do the things I like to do for myself, like getting a manicure-pedicure, so I don’t like how I look then I don’t want to go out on a date… or most of the time, I’m too tired. I’m learning how to balance my time and get back to me so I can be who I know I am with the man I will love”.
Like Moe, many women on the journey to success require sacrifices that we never thought we’d need to prepare for. Children, sick family members, job loss, economic deserts and the harsh winters of heartbreak; what Moe has been a great example of is the vehicle that will move us all through any storm: perseverance. Over an hour long interview became a personalized empowerment session with Big sister Moe exposing her inner strength and determination to live the life she dreams. With fleeting memories of past trips across the U.S., her fond memories of family vacations in Mexico and gestures of gratefulness working with one of her favorite culinary mentors, Chef Cyrille – who now cooks in her dream destination of Bora Bora; Moe didn’t gleam as much as she did when she began to share her vision of opening her own bakery.
Just like a young girl excited about her first date, Moe bursts with excitement “… I don’t want to do donuts again. It was fun having the Donut Bar (a venture with great successes partnered with her best friend Ebony Davie) I want to have my space to do my cupcakes. I know that’s what I’m great at! I may not be the best at decorating but my cupcakes always taste good; they’re moist and fresh and I know how to present them beautifully. I don’t need a big bakery, just something I can manage myself and ship my cupcakes out all over the place!” She continues, “I know I’m good at a lot of things, but I know how to stay in my lane and work my best at what I’m good at”. A lesson we can all pin on our vanity mirror- STAY IN YOUR LANE! Just like a big sister would say, “…that’s part of the reason why I joined P.U.M.P.S. because we are all women who genuinely support each other and respect one another”
Moe became a founding member of the P.U.M.P.S.-ATL Chapter in Atlanta Georgia metro area and lovingly expresses what attracted her to the organization:
… it was like we we’re all real sisters with different goals in life. The first time I met some of the ladies, they welcomed me with open arms.
“…We have a true sisterhood and we pull each other up. I’m thankful to be a part of an organization like that. I like to uplift women and my family in their purpose. I’m ok with not being in the spotlight all the time and for everything. Somethings I know I’m good at something, like doing hair, but that’s not my purpose-that’s not my lane. So, when I need my hair done or if I know someone who does, I contact my cousin or a close friend [for the referral]. That’s how we’re all supposed to be for each other. Why would I try to do what you do knowing that’s not where I’m supposed to be? Cupcaken -that’s what I love and that’s where I’m supposed to be”.
CUPCAKEN is Moe’s latest creative venture, a self-illustrated coloring book published on Amazon. “I wanted to see if I could do it and follow through. I didn’t want to delay my dream waiting on anyone else so I created 24 illustrations myself and published my first coloring book”. Filled with pride, she adds “… Cupcaken is for children and adults who like to color. I made the drawings cute and in a way that anyone can color them any flavor they feel they should be”.
The coloring book features original illustrations of cute and expressive sweet confections. Great satisfaction for all variations of creative sweetness!
Moe has been a bold model of the Purpose we should strive for, the Uplifting we must hold on to, the Mentors we admire, the Positivity required to push our way through and the Sisterhood that secures us in our P.U.M.P.S. “If I could talk to my 18 year old self and share with any woman, I would tell her to always strive for excellence and never get distracted by what other people are doing. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do anything, the sky is the limit! Just never limit yourself. I would encourage women to remember, anything you do, give 100% and give all of you in all you do! As examples for the next generation, we need to be the best [we] can and refuse to waste time, not even while you’re searching [in life] just stay focused on being who you are and ask God to help you find your purpose.
In final thoughts, “We, as women, should stay loyal to one another and be OK with being humble. [Being humble] doesn’t mean [we] lose ourselves, it really helps us to be true to ourselves. And I want to help [women] to realize, regardless of those who walk away, stay true to those who stay and who recognize the truth in you. People need People and I need my sisters!”
With all the ingredients sifted, blended, processed and on the rise towards GREATER we are proud of our sister and PUMPED about CUPCAKEN.
Follow Chef Sophia “Moe” Kelley on Instagram @chef_sassymoe