Over the course of the last year, Laila Palmer and Gabby Issa, Hun School Class of 2021 and 2018, respectively, have navigated starting a small business during a time that was particularly difficult for small business owners.
Bark + Bee Honey, established in 2020, is an online business that sells fresh honey with 100% of the proceeds benefiting dog shelters in New Jersey.
It all started when Palmer learned of a connection her mother had to a beekeeper in Poland; upon learning, she began researching and discussing with her cousin, Issa, about starting a honey business, according to information provided by the Hun School. Palmer and Issa, who both have a love for marketing, decided to jump right in. They quickly purchased 10 bee hives and began working with a local beekeeper to harvest honey.
While Issa and Palmer were set on starting a business revolving around honey, they both were eager to incorporate a passion that they both share: adopting dogs.
“My capstone project at Hun was volunteering at a dog shelter, and we both grew up with adopted dogs and other animals,” Issa said in the statement. “So we both have the ‘adopt, don’t shop’ mentality and we really wanted to do something to save both dogs and bees. So, Bark + Bee Honey turned into a company that sells honey with 100% of the proceeds being donated to SAVE shelter in Princeton and Love For Dogs shelter in New Jersey.”
Due to the difficulties associated with selling their product in stores throughout the pandemic, Bark + Bee Honey currently operates as an e-commerce business with plans to expand to local farmers markets and small shops, according to the statement.
“We started this business in the middle of a pandemic, so it has been really difficult to get our foot in the door of other small businesses, local shops, and farmers markets to sell our honey,” Palmer said in the statement. “So right now, we sell our products only online and our goal is to expand into small shops and get a table at several local farmers markets in the coming months.”
Palmer and Issa not only hope to expand their business into different markets, but they also have plans to expand their product list.
“There are a lot of honey related items that we are looking to start selling as well,” Issa said in the statement. “Honey sticks, honey dispensers, different clothing items. It’s all up in the air right now but that’s what we plan to do.”
While the future of Bark + Bee Honey is headed towards success, as young professionals, so are Issa and Palmer.
“We both have an interest in marketing and advertising so this type of first hand experience just isn’t something we could get in a traditional classroom,” Issa said in the statement. “We are really lucky to be able to learn the ins and outs of running a business. I would say we have both learned so much about just budgeting and planning both for the business and for ourselves.”
While Issa and Palmer note that they have loved getting this hands-on experience, both girls agree that the best part of this experience is that they get to run a business together, strengthen their bond, and do good for the two communities that they are most passionate about, according to the statement.