Sue Joyce envelops everything we adore in a Southern woman — she has grace, poise and a respect for her Kentucky heritage. The other side of Sue, one of the most successful businesswomen in the South, is equally as compelling. Sue started Ocean Tribe by Turkish T, a simple beach wrap, as an idea on paper. Today, her success is breathtaking and she sells to retailers all over the United States. (And a nod from Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog, Goop, didn’t hurt.) Along the way, this self-made designer and part-time seamstress, crafter, gardener and farmer has grown an organically inspired lifestyle with her family on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee. It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Sue Joyce, StyleBlueprint’s FACE of the South.

Sue Joyce, founder of Ocean Tribe by Turkish T and today's FACE of the South
Sue Joyce, founder of Ocean Tribe by Turkish T and today’s FACE of the South

Before launching Ocean Tribe by Turkish T, describe your previous career and interests.

Most of my professional career has been in the field of marketing and advertising. My love for textiles comes from my Southern heritage and my desire to make our house a home. I imagine most women love to create their own nest. Thank goodness for Pinterest! What a wonderful venue for people to share their creative ideas.

What was your inspiration to start Ocean Tribe by Turkish T?

Blind optimism and a love of textiles.

What have you learned about being a small business owner that surprised you?

I thought I would simply use my creative energy to design and make beautiful things. If I liked them, surely others would, too. It never occurred to me that I would be flooded with so many orders that I couldn’t get them filled. Most of my time is not spent in designing as a small business owner but it is spent putting in good working systems.

Sue Joyce, founder of Ocean Tribe by Turkish T and today's FACE of the South

Have you had any breakaway moments in your business?

Yes, I had to learn to stop letting the business run me. Systems help with this, of course, but it became apparent that I needed better boundaries between my time at work and my time at home with my family.

What are some challenges you face with Ocean Tribe by Turkish T?

Every day is a new challenge. The digital world has offered wonderful opportunities for small businesses along with offering a creative outlet for people like myself.

Can you tell us about one of your mentors? 

I have been fortunate to have had many mentors along the way, from my maternal grandmother who always made me feel loved and quietly guided me through adolescence to my first boss who taught me how to read HUTS and PUTS in the television advertising business. He referred to me as “a diamond in the rough.” I am still honing that diamond today.

Sue Joyce, founder of Ocean Tribe by Turkish T and today's FACE of the South

What piece of advice have you been given that you treasure?

Be willing to look at yourself and your part during times of conflict. This is where you will find real growth, peace and understanding.

Where do you go to relax?

The beach!

Have you had a meal in Nashville that wowed you?

Yes, the fried chicken at 5th and Taylor.

Do you have any irrational fears?

I am sure I do but they all seem quite rational to me.

What are three things you can’t live without, excluding faith, family and friends?

My morning walk, my Mac and a good cup of coffee.

Thanks to Sue Joyce for taking time to talk with us. And thank you to Mary Craven of Mary Craven Photography for today’s beautiful photos.


Check out the new “FACES of TriStar” series, launching today. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re thrilled to introduce you to Dr. Casey Chollet, a radiation oncologist at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at TriStar Health and today’s FACE of TriStar. Click here to read how she’s changing lives of Middle Tennesseans!

About the Author
Elizabeth Fox