At Building Champions, we’re proud to see our clients making a positive difference in the world. Today’s post features client Joy Hoover, Founder and President of the nonprofit The Cupcake Girls. Through coaching, Hoover has discovered how to balance nonprofit work and family life — and she’s about to make one of her organization’s biggest dreams a reality.Joy Hoover didn’t set out to start a nonprofit. But eight years ago, she and her husband took a vacation to Las Vegas and came home with a mission.
“It really kind of punched us in the gut, the issue of sex trafficking,” says Hoover. They returned home to Michigan with a feeling they couldn’t shake. “There was a need in the Las Vegas community that wasn’t being filled,” she says.
Three months later, they moved to Las Vegas — and shortly after arriving, Hoover found herself in the back room at the Adult Video Network’s 2010 Adult Entertainment Expo, meeting women who worked in the industry as she helped them with hairspray and eyelashes.
“With every connection I made, I was really just listening to them,” she says. “We actually had a lot in common. A lot of them were mothers. A lot of them were from the Midwest. We were women — we had bad days, we had goals.”
Soon, she was part of a team of volunteers who were bringing sparkly pink cupcakes into strip clubs and legal brothels to build relationships with the women who worked there and to hear their stories.
Each story revealed a new need. One woman was looking for better education opportunities for her children.
Another woman had an abscess in her tooth that was affecting her entire body — but she hadn’t been able to go to the dentist in years.
A woman with bruises all over her body needed help covering them with makeup because she had to be able to keep dancing to earn a living.
For Hoover, the women’s stories revealed the human side of the adult industry — the one underneath the glitter and bright lights.
“There are humans behind the pole in the strip club. There are humans behind the brothels and the cameras,” Hoover says. “I’ve learned that people are more valuable, more unique and more courageous than I could have ever known.”
She started reaching out to doctors, lawyers, dentists, therapists and other resource providers in the community to see who might be willing to help.
Hoover and her nonprofit organization, The Cupcake Girls, now have more than 50 partners in the community. Throughout the past seven years, they’ve handed out more than 800 cupcakes every month to show respect, provide resources and build relationships with women in the adult industry.
Women share why they're thankful for The Cupcake Girls.
Working with women whose trust had been betrayed many times over, Hoover knew from the outset that she and her team would need to prove that they could withhold judgment and stick around long-term.
But by 2014, they were running ragged.
“I was working until I would burn out — to the point that I would end up in the hospital every year,” Hoover says. “I had no balance in my life; I would always put The Cupcake Girls before myself, before my marriage.”
Shortly after launching a second branch of The Cupcake Girls in Portland, she heard about The Building Champions Experience and was invited to attend the four-day retreat in Sunriver, Oregon.
At The Experience, she met Building Champions Coach Dr. Laurel Emory, who soon became her coach.
Working with Emory, Hoover realized the need for boundaries and balance in her work — and Emory’s coaching gave her the accountability she needed to make those changes. She started requiring her employees to take at least one full day off each week, and encouraging everyone on her team to go through counseling to combat the challenges of their work.
“Now I realize that it’s okay for me to put my health, my faith, my marriage, my kids first,” she says. “I plan out fun, adventurous time with my husband and don’t feel guilty about it. I turn my phone off.”
And her work life has become more gratifying, too. She’s able to retain employees and move toward the organization’s big-picture goals.
“We cut out a huge amount of stuff we were doing so we could do what we do well,” she says. “We don’t live in complete crisis mode at all times now. We actually help people more because we have parameters and a process.”
Bringing Dreams to Life
In the coming year, The Cupcake Girls team plans to open a 6,500-square-foot holistic resource center where women can receive care, access resources and learn new skills.
It’s a dream Hoover has envisioned since the organization’s earliest days, but she says coaching gave her the accountability and momentum to make it happen.
Located in Las Vegas, the facility will include a bakery, a salon and other shops where women can learn trades to pursue careers outside the adult industry.
Women who visit the center will have access to medical, trauma and financial advising services. They’ll be able to find healing through recovery classes, art therapy, yoga and meditation.
And they’ll be able to sit down beside other women who have bad days and goals, pick up a cupcake and share their story.