Baking Mini-Pies with a Major Mission

Juliana Phillip of Josephines Miniature Pies felt called to honor the legacy of her ancestors—and generations-old family recipes.

josephines miniature pies
Juliana Phillip displays a tray of mini-pies in her Union City kitchen. Photo by Laura Baer

“Pies have always been my jam,” says Juliana Phillip, owner of Josephines Miniature Pies. 

The Bahamas-born, Boston-raised 32-year-old is the youngest of seven children. “Everyone had their thing in our family,” she says. “I was the pie maker.” By middle school, Phillip was taking orders from family friends, teachers and the ladies at the local hair salon. 

School, a career in retail management, and motherhood took precedence over pie sales, but Phillip never stopped baking. And when she, her husband, Dane, and 8-year-old son, Leo, moved to Jersey City from Massachusetts nearly three years ago, pies became her calling card with new friends and neighbors.

On a whim, Phillip ordered a mini pie pan—and the palm-sized version of her go-to recipe became a hit. People asked how they could get more of the cute 3-inch treats; her landlord requested dozens for his daughter’s birthday party.

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Still, it wasn’t until last summer’s protests for racial justice that Phillip left her job managing a women’s clothing store to launch Josephines Miniature Pies. The Black Lives Matter movement, plus the backlash against it, she says, “awakened a sense of urgency” in her. She felt called to spend her working hours doing “something more in line with my values”—something that honored the legacy of her ancestors and generations-old family recipes.

Family legacy is also reflected in the moniker Josephines, the given name of both her late family matriarch and her husband’s octogenarian grandmother. The classic pecan is her grandmother’s secret recipe; the best-selling vegan flavors—lemon drop apple and date pecan molasses—are her riffs on it. 

Phillip, who is a vegan, isn’t sure if her Josephine, a butter devotee and pie traditionalist, would fully approve (she also makes nut-free options). But she is confident her grandmother would applaud the socially conscious aspect of the business. Throughout the holiday season, 10 percent of proceeds went to the Community Food Bank of New Jersey; moving forward, Phillip says customers will be able to suggest organizations for contributions of funds—and sweets. She also keeps a community fridge in the Jersey Heights stocked with pies.

It’s only right, she says, since community chatter about her pies has spawned a steady stream of orders at Since officially launching after Thanksgiving, Phillip has been busy in her Union City commercial kitchen. She’s now packing pie boxes to ship all over the country.

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