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marvin swain
Marvin Swain, Businessman.

Marvin Swain, Jr.
Sweet "Potato Pie" Success!

Marvin Swain, Jr. President of My Mama's Sweet Potato Pie Co. based in Columbus, Ohio, will be the first to tell you, before his entrepreneurial success he tinkered around Spriingfield, Ohio, without much focus. He believed that being black and being an ex-convict were two strikes against him. Swain said he spent three years in prison. But ever since coming to Columbus, it's been a better life for him and he found his path on the road to success. Marvin believed the time-tested family recipe for sweet potato pies, which spans more than 130 years, would be a great product to market. “Sweet potato pie was popular in the black community,” Swain says. “I had never seen it in mainstream America … this is good eating from the country.” With only $50 in his pocket and his mama's recipe, he began peddling pies from the trunk of his car.

Eliza Swain, Marvin's mother, said his father would criticize him saying he couldn't make a living selling pies. He'd say you can't take care of no family making no sweet potato pies. But Marvin kept going. It was something he really wanted to do and was determined to do it. He stayed focused and remained positive. Since then he has been featured in numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on shows like Sally Jesse Raphael and been recognized with many awards. With the Sally Show, Swain had heard that the producers were looking for someone who started their business out of a basement or trunk of their car and he called in right away and let them know he had done both! Raphael asked Marvin if he believed he could sell pies out of his trunk on the streets of New York. “Absolutely!” he said. And he sold about a dozen in a short amount of time. “I think I could have sold a truck load in the course of a day,” Swain said with a grin.

Always trying to make a better pie and think of ways to increase business, Marvin says he's never satisfied and notes that there's always room for improvement. Now in business for over 25 years, Marvin and My Mama's Sweet Potato Pie Co. distribute regionally and his pies can be found in a number of Kroger Stores in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Northern Kentucky. He says he'd love to go international with his pies …” I hope to be very successful while we continue selling My Mama's Sweeet Potato Pies!”

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