They kept asking her to bake pies for them, which she still does today.
“I have some very close, intimate friends that just cannot eat another pie. They want my pie, so I have to keep supplying them,” Lee said.
She figures that she and her daughter baked about 1,000 pies for the recent holidays for friends and family.
Several years after starting her home-grown business, she was baking about 20 pies a week. It was then she decided it was time to take the business to the next level, and start getting her pies into stores.
In June 2017, like hundreds of small-business owners, Lee set out for Bentonville, Ark., to visit Walmart headquarters and pitch her product to Walmart buyers.
“Our Open Call events provide the opportunity to change the future for small businesses like Mary D. Lee’s Kitchen, their families and their communities,” said Felicia McCranie, director of communications for Walmart, in a statement. “These businesses are at the heart of communities here in America and a big part of our $350 billion commitment to U.S. manufacturing to help create American jobs.”
After landing a contract at the event, Lee knew she had her work cut out for herself.