Smith dove into entrepreneurship two weeks before her 18th birthday, when she opened a beauty salon in El Paso, Texas.

Because of her age, she couldn’t obtain a business loan without a co-signer. Having to depend on someone else stuck in her craw, as the proud, independent woman would eventually go on to control her own destiny.

After moving to Dallas, Smith sold the salon and pursued beauty supply sales, performing hair demonstrations and training up to 750 people for Jheri Redding (creator of the Jheri curl) at hair care giant Nexxus. After a buyout, she became a district manager for Sally Beauty Company, and then transitioned into commercial and residential property management. Upon moving to New Mexico in 1989, she became a qualified real estate broker.

In 1994, Smith was ready for a new chapter, one that allowed her to take advantage of her sales experience and vibrant personality. While driving with her husband one day, she had an epiphany when she spotted the man from whom she bought promotional products. She immediately joined a distributor before launching her own business – Joy of Advertising – five years later.

“I wanted to leave corporate America and go back to work for myself,” Smith says. “I love that promo lets me use my creativity. I love the relationships that I’ve built with clients and suppliers. There’s much more good and fun than there ever are issues.”

Giving Back

A devoted volunteer, Smith has served on numerous committees and advisory councils, including chairing PPAI’s Professional Development Committee from 2020-2022. Named a PPAI Fellow in 2016, Smith also has the distinction of presenting the first MAS/CAS training at The PPAI Expo 2004. She mentored 17 participants over the course of that year, nurturing and empowering the next generation of industry leaders.

“I was raised that you can never do enough to help someone else,” Smith says, “so every time there’s an opportunity, I take it.”

Beyond the promo industry, she’s served in leadership positions for various nonprofit and civic organizations, including being named Honorary Chairwoman of the Business Advisory Council for New Mexico and receiving the 2003 National Leadership Award sponsored by then-congressman Tom DeLay. She’s embarked on service mission trips around the world, mentoring recent college graduates, providing food and clothes to an orphanage and working with prison and gang ministries.

Smith has served as chair of Albuquerque’s Foster Grandparent Program and founded the Women of Worth organization, which equips women who are homeless or near homeless with life skills and education. She currently volunteers with Noonday Ministries and is the Blue Hat team leader for the New Mexico Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. And, if that’s not enough, she rescues unsheltered animals, including a horse named Miracle who currently resides on her ranch.

“She has clearly demonstrated sustained leadership and advocacy for women, and she has served with hand and heart in a humanitarian way to her community and our industry,” says nominator Daryll Griffin, MAS, president of Georgia-based distributor Accolades and the 2019 recipient of the PPAI Woman of Achievement Award.

Living Up To Her Name

Fellow nominator and PPAI Hall of Fame member Mary Ellen Sokalski, MAS, credits Smith with being a “passionate founding task force member” of the first WLC.

“If you know Joy, you immediately smile when you hear her name,” Sokalski says. “She helps everyone – not just when you ask, but because she wants to make you better because she loves to see people grow. But she views that as a good use of one of her capable hands. The other helps the needy in her community in so many ways that it’s a wonder that she has time for business and providing amazing solutions for her clients.”

Bottom line, says Sokalski, Smith supports and leads everyone. “Her mentoring of fellow distributors – even competitors – sales representatives, customer service team members and supplier partners is legendary,” she adds. “She goes out of her way to teach and lead everyone by example at national trade shows, PPAI conferences, educational sessions and in one-on-one in-person and phone sessions.”

Ultimately, Smith is a people person. She’s had some clients for 30 years and is now working with the grandchildren of others. The message on her company’s website – “It’s our business to promote your business” – is more than just a tagline. It’s been her philosophy throughout her entire career in promo.

“When I help a client create something to promote their business and it’s successful,” Smith says, “it’s thrilling when I get that phone call and they say, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what happened!’”