Before Honey Bee True Co was created, I was a new graduate with a Bachelor’s of Science in Art from the University of Oregon. While planning graduation, I coordinated my wedding and purchased a home. Unfortunately, my home was in a region that wouldn’t support the type of career in which my degree and passion would thrive. Blinded by the shiny new life I was molding into, I felt I pushed my career options to the bottom. I tried to find something that would utilize my degree but I kept falling short. Switching to a different path, I studied a separate trade, and earned a license in healthcare that would ensure employment. Although it wasn't my first choice, I did very well; however, inside I felt broken and my creative soul suffocated.
One day, my friend shared that a family that was in desperate need of financial assistance. My heart strings were pulled, and I knew I had to do something. Suddenly, an idea came to me and I ran with it - it was nearing Valentines Day, so I came up with a design "XO" to paint onto shirts. That design is still offered in the shop today. My son had just celebrated his second birthday and even wore a shirt that I had created for his party. Feeling more confident about my idea and painting skills, I made a small batch of kid-sizes shirts as a fundraiser. All of the profits went to the family. Making those shirts lit up my soul, and made me want more!
At the time small shops were popping up everywhere, and an expanding audience was supportive of the trend. I had been, and still am, inspired by so many “boss moms” that came before me, notably @dearcub (@arrowfolk) @loved by hannahandeli @weestructed (@momculture) and @stillrad. These women radiated so much strength that I finally found the courage to run with my vision.
First, my idea developed a name, adorned with a single line drawing of a bee. Experimenting with my work model, I felt that I did not want to limit my customers by picking the shirt and paint colors, but this complexity of the shop made the workload overwhelming, and gradually I had to simplify my shop inventory.No shop platform translated complex ordering process in such a way that was easy for the customer. At the time, social media algorithms were different, and allowed people to see things chronologically and with little-to-no filter. When you followed an account, you saw their posts in real-time. This made small shop community different, too - it was easier to reach people, and those same people were very supportive of the new wave of small shops. While my shop expanded, I became less interested in my day job; I was exhausted trying to be a wife, mother, step mom, work and build a brand. My then husband, gave me the green light to quit my job, so long as I was contributing my share to the household.
SO I DID IT!
My ethic and flow were strong, and, with my fellow “mom boss” friends, stronger. With new designs, collaborations, and giveaways we all grew. Then the unthinkable happened- my marriage was shook and began to unravel. I tried to stop it from completely unraveling, but it had spun too hard and too fast. While we divided our lives and dealt with life's new challenges, the algorithms on social media had changed. Suddenly, shops were popping up like crazy and sabotaging each other. I had no choice but to pick up the same career I had left three years prior, so that I could support my son and me. I was told that there was no way I could carry a full-time job and maintain my shop, but I could not accept that. I could not give up Honey Bee True Co. I had come too far to give up on what had become like another child to me. I wasn't done yet!
Since then, I have had to close temporarily, in order to give more time to my son and our lives, but I do not have plans on closing the virtual doors just yet. In order to feel whole, I need to create. Keeping true to my brand to this day, I have never outsourced my designs or painting. Every one of my garments have been handled by me from the time it arrived blank at my doorstep, to prepped, to painted, to heat treated, to folded, to shipped. Much like my son sporting the first shirt, family in my brand has continued to be priceless. For example, my mom isn't afraid to step in when I need help with prepping orders and shipping them, while my dad helps with my paint booth and tools. Both of them have helped at markets and been there whenever I asked. Maybe some day I will learn how to give up some of the control and allow outsourcing, but I hope you always see the passion in my work. For now, every 'like', comment, email and note from Honey Bee True Co came directly from the same hands that started it all. I hope that you find confidence when you wear my work. I hope you cheer for and support other creative minds when you see them pushing for their soul.
Forever honey, be true.