HilltopsHoney – Pure Raw Beeswax, Beeswax Lip Balms, Candles & Lotions

Tell us something about yourself. What is your niche? How did you get your idea or concept for the business?

Our business Hilltops Honey, we are very passionate about all things bees and honey and absolutely love what we get to do every day.
It is owned and run by 3rd generation beekeeper Tony, his wife Jane, and their family. Based in Young, our passion takes us across country New South Wales to source quality, pure raw honey. We have developed a successful online business and our product range has grown to approximately 60 items, all lovingly handmade by us, with the utmost care and attention to detail. All our honey and beeswax products are lovingly handmade, with the utmost care and attention to detail, using our own pure raw honey and pure raw beeswax, with organic and natural ingredients.

What are your responsibilities as a business owner?

As a business owner, our first priority is to our beautiful bees, my husband runs our apiary, which is a full-time job in itself.
I am always researching new ideas, marketing on social platforms, and in magazines, getting our name and products out there. Then there are all the long hours making, packing our products, and taking the online orders to town to post. The job I leave to last each day is the bookwork.

What are your best selling products, what type of materials are used in your creations, how do you design your products, what makes your products stand out?

We don’t actually have the best selling product, all the products have their moments depending on current trends. We use either our pure raw honey or our pure raw beeswax, along with natural and organic ingredients. We get our inspiration from our bees, our bees are our passion and we also get inspiration from our customers, who often contact us with suggestions for new honey or beeswax products. Someone will approach us with a requirement and we will see if we can help in some way. I’ll research and test products until we come up with something that we are happy with. We also work with other artisans, bouncing ideas off each other, supporting each other. Our products stand out because of our love of our bees, because we use all-natural ingredients and because we do it all ourselves and we take time on our presentation.

Pure Beeswax Candle - Short Pillar - homemade using pure, natural beeswax
Honey Artisian Gift Hamper - pure raw honey, beautifully hand crafted honey twist & hand crafted honey pot with FREE Postage
DIY reusable food wrap kit, pure raw beeswax with coconut oil & jojoba oil ready mixed

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur? What’s the hardest about it?

I love that I get to do what I love each day… that my office can be on the road, out in nature, searching for our next bee site, or in my honey cubby creating.
I love the flexibility that owning our own business gives us, we can take a day off to spend with our grandkids or visit our kids. I love all the beautiful people we meet along the way, that we get to share our passion with. The hardest part most days is the very long hours that we both put in, some days we joke that life would be easier working 9-5 pm for someone else. In the early days it was pouring every dollar we made back into the business, we tried to self-fund where possible, as we set it all up. In the last few years, the ongoing drought and bushfires have made being a beekeeper one of the toughest jobs, no moisture = no nectar = no honey… but we are always trying to think outside of the square, to find a new avenue to keep our business afloat.

Who do you sell to (and how do you get customers)? What marketing tools or strategies you use to boost your sales? Are you satisfied with the results?

We sell through our online store and local markets or expos, we wholesale to stores and we also sell on Etsy and recently joined an all Australian website – TODD+CREATES. Marketing tools and strategies – get educated, I’ve done business administration and management courses as well as courses in marketing – knowledge is power. I love to collaborate with other creators, I think it’s more important to work with others than it is to compete, its always a win all both parties. We regularly do advertising in magazines such as Lifestyle magazine or tourism brochures, we have also run adds on Instagram and Facebook prior to attending a big market or Expo. We also sponsor at local events and fundraising for charities close to our hearts. Our sales are as much as we can keep up with at the moment, and it supports our lifestyle, so what more could you want.

Do you believe there is a winning formula for becoming a successful entrepreneur? What is yours?

Do something that you love, that you are passionate about.
My mentor always says “What one thing can I do today to grow my business?”
Work smart, manage your time well, spend your time where you will see the biggest results, have patience.

What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?

Toughest moment was in January 2020, watching the Dunns Road bushfire threatened our bees, knowing there was absolutely nothing we could do to get them out, it was the toughest and most devastating 3 weeks that we have had in our 25 years of being beekeepers. We lost 100 hives and the bushfires burnt possibly 75% of our total bee sites. This after years of drought, has all but decimated our ability to collect honey for the future. But we were lucky compared to so many, we found in those weeks during the fires, volunteering locally to help others affected by the bushfires, witnessing others’ generosity was incredibly heartwarming and soul repairing. Helping out fellow beekeepers who couldn’t get access to their bees, by walking and checking them for them, taking photos for their insurance, and being able to give them some good news when we all thought we had lost everything. Getting over it involves searching for new bee sites in new areas, taking care of our bees, and taking things one day at a time, while we wait for trees to grow back… we are in it for the long term. We are also looking into ways to expand our business that is still bee-related, but not reliant on honey or beeswax.

What inspires you when you’re creating? How do you get ideas for new products? What are some methods or tools you use to get creative?

We get our inspiration from our bees, our bees are our passion and we also get inspiration from our customers, who often contact us with suggestions for new honey or beeswax products. Someone will approach us with a requirement and we will see if we can help in some way. I’ll research and test products until we come up with something that we are happy with. We also work with other artisans, bouncing ideas off each other, supporting each other.

Do you ship your product internationally? How do you handle postage pricing? What is the average time it takes from the order to the delivery? Do you use free shipping? If so, why? How do you package your products?

We don’t ship internationally. To keep postage down we registered our business with Australia Post so that we are eligible for discounted postage. Delivery times are affected by us living in a rural area,

Beeswax, coconut oil and jojoba oil mix hexagonal blocks - 250gm pack
Beeswax Hand Lotion Bar, all natural ingredients with our own pure raw beeswax, handmade, lotion - 80gm
Beeswax Birthday Candles

 

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful online business?

Doing something your passionate about.
Research your product, pricing, and who your target customers are and where are they?
Education – some sort of business or marketing course, definitely a computer course.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out?

Work smart, manage your time well, spend your time where you will see the biggest results, have patience.

How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression and innovation? Something else?

I get to do what I love every day, I have a flexibility that allows me to spend time with my grandkids at the drop of a hat.
Our sales are as much as we can keep up with at the moment and it supports our lifestyle, including trips to New Zealand to visit my daughter.
I get to create and I’ve met and collaborated with some incredibly talented people.

Describe your day-to-day operation. How do you manage your time?

My days usually start with printing orders while having breakfast, I do a bit of housework and then I head to my honey cubby.
I make, create, do some social media posts of what we are up to that day, I package orders, then I drive them to town to post or deliver.
On a good day I’m done by 5 pm and get to have a wander around my garden, then cook dinner and after sit and catch up bookwork, Xero is my friend.
On our busiest days, I have been in the honey cubby until 1 am, just making and packing orders, those days are hard.

How do you plan on growing your business? What is the biggest impact on your profitability?

I think we have a pretty good system in place at the moment and we will continue to explore new products. The biggest impact on our profitability is environmental, it’s all up to finding ideal conditions for our bees to collect nectar and pollen. The other impact is time, some days there is just not enough time.

What are some things you did to set your shop for success on Etsy? What is one lesson you learned the hard way?

Early on in my Etsy journey, I joined a Facebook group who shared hints and tips on listing items on Etsy and I think your tag words are important and having good photos, with your branding. The one lesson I learned the hard way was estimating correct postage and packing – make sure you get that one right.

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