Just Bee Cosmetics Turns Beekeeping Hobby into Successful Business

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Many entrepreneurs start by building a business around a favorite hobby. This was the case for the couple behind Just Bee Cosmetics, who got into beekeeping and eventually used it to create various natural products. Learn more about the company and its unique journey in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers beauty and home products made from natural materials.

Founders Ben and Sarah Mitzelfelt told Small Business Trends, “We sell candles, small space diffusers, natural dish bar soap, lotion bars, natural lip balm, and other natural skin products.”

Business Niche

Creating unique formulas for every product.

Mitzelfelt says, “Our journey began with a passion for beekeeping, igniting the creation of our flagship product, the Just Bee lip balm. Through a lot of experimentation, we curated a unique formula that sets our lip balm apart, delivering a thicker, more protective balm than any other on the market. This led us to expand our brand to include various nature-focused beauty and home products.

“At Just Bee, we pride ourselves on crafting clean, even-burning candles with aesthetically designed nature-focused labels. Each of our scent blends is made with natural soy wax, organic coconut oil, naturally gathered beeswax, 100% natural cotton wicks, fragrance, and essential oils. Complementing our candles are our innovative small-space diffusers, perfect for infusing your surroundings with luxury on the go. Our product line features an array of skincare essentials, from bath soaps and oils to nourishing lotion bars, all crafted with the same dedication to natural ingredients and impeccable quality.”

How the Business Got Started

Because of a passion for beekeeping.

Mitzelfelt explains, “We founded Just Bee in 2011, a year after Ben, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, started bee-keeping. After his first season, Sarah used our beeswax and other organic ingredients to make our first product – the Just Bee lip balm. Experimenting and perfecting the formulations, Sarah developed a unique blend that was thicker and more protective than other lip balms on the market. After sharing our creations with our family and friends, we started selling our lip balms in small, local businesses. We steadily grew, adding other natural skincare products and then launching candles in late 2019.”

Biggest Win

Expanding their product line to include candles.

Mitzelfelt adds, “With our established sales of lip balms, we could dedicate ample time to perfecting the candle line. Leveraging our existing channel access from lip balm sales, we accelerated our expansion into candles. This strategic move not only broadened our product range but also enhanced the brand image of Just Bee. It demonstrated our commitment to providing high-quality, natural products that resonate with our customers while also fostering stronger connections with our loyal customer base.”

Biggest Risk

Trying something new at a tradeshow.

Mitzelfelt says, “About 6 years ago we took a big swing at a tradeshow that did not work out. This set us back and forced a significant amount of self-reflection that, while painful at the time, looking back was a huge gift. Because of this setback, we were willing to try things that before might have seemed out of our scope. This drove us to try candles and put us in partnership with Faire.com as our main wholesale channel. Both decisions have been an inflection point in our business.”

Lesson Learned

Don’t be afraid to try new things.

Mitzelfelt explains, “Rejection in the market is difficult to take, but it is necessary for success. We didn’t launch/didn’t finish the development of many ideas because we were scared. Our business has significantly changed when we became more sure of ourselves and less sensitive to rejection.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Testing new ideas.

Mitzelfelt adds, “While financial limitations have a wonderful way of focusing your attention this can also be limiting. Building in additional funds to just try things has been a game changer for us and additional investment in the area we feel would pay off.”

What Sets the Business Apart

Being a true family business.

Mitzelfelt says, “Our children (Currently 13 and 9) are part of the ideation and production of products and the direction of the company.”

Favorite Quote

“If it was easy, everyone would do it” quoted by Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own.

Mitzelfelt adds, “Probably not the first to say it, but where it resonated with us. We like this because it reframes the struggle into an advantage.”

*****

Images: Just Bee Cosmetics, Sarah and Ben Mitzelfelt

Image: shop.justbee.us




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