Hollie King of Sweet Bee Organics: “A gratitude practice”

A gratitude practice: This is literally so simple. I think my gratitude practice has truly helped me access the magic of manifestation. Here’s the simple pattern I follow. Every morning when I get up, I hug myself, and tell myself I am beautiful. I say thank you to myself and the universe and I just […]

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A gratitude practice: This is literally so simple. I think my gratitude practice has truly helped me access the magic of manifestation. Here’s the simple pattern I follow. Every morning when I get up, I hug myself, and tell myself I am beautiful. I say thank you to myself and the universe and I just feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I thank everything: the universe, the bed, the house, the children, the dog. Every morning it helps wake up with a bit of gratitude, even if it is just for the spoon and the medicinal mushrooms I use every day.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hollie King, a wellness specialist and founder of Sweet Bee Organics, a boutique creator of the purest natural product. The company is guided by her passion and her promise to herself when she beat cancer: To Bring Wellness To The World. Hollie’s built a dedicated community of people seeking a more holistic approach to their self care and wellbeing.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I started Sweet Bee Organics in 2018 with sunscreen. I have two little boys and I just couldn’t find anything I wanted to use on them. I was looking for a sunscreen that was not only eco-friendly but also came in reusable and/or sustainable packaging. Neither myself nor any of my friends could find anything! So, finally I decided to make my own and and see what comes out. I did some research, turned on my blender, and put the sunscreen in a reusable glass jar. After seeing how effectively it worked on my boys, my friends were also keen on using it. So, I started to make sunscreen for them, and they encouraged me to start selling it to like-minded folk. I took their advice and got it tested so I could sell it online. To my surprise it started flying off the “shelf”.

Then, in the summer of 2019 I began to get ill and was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cervical cancer, which was obviously quite frightening. I had a large tumor and decided to have a radical hysterectomy. During this time, my family flew over from the United States to be with me. To be honest, we tried our best to keep Sweet Bee going while I was going through this journey because it was so important to me. As I was healing from my surgery, I made a promise to myself that if (when) I make it through the journey I am going to expand Sweet Bee and focus more on doing what I love.

I have found that what I love is bringing education about natural products to the masses. I feel like this is my calling to my human community. Natural wellness is something that I take very seriously, as it is what continues to keep me in remission. Even though I had a successful surgery, my oncologist was still worried about the margins and wanted me to undergo chemo and radiation. I did some deep internal listening to touch base with my body’s needs, and I decided against this route which was obviously controversial since it was against my oncologist’s advice. I opted instead and with a naturopathic doctor who treats me with medicinal mushrooms.

And here we are! Once I was off bed rest, we started with our next product: Winter Wellness, an elderberry elixir. Then came Sweet Sleep Magnesium Butter, which I made for my youngest who said he is just not “keen on sleep.” Things snowballed from there, with more and more products. Sweet Bee is doing amazing and we make everything by hand, small batched, with love. It is quite a journey and I feel so much gratitude for my cancer which gave me a new lease on life and the knowing that you need to do what you love.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

At the beginning of Sweet Bee Organics, and a big reason I was motivated to start it because my husband lost his job for the 2nd time. At this point and we were broke…like seriously broke. We did not have anything. We had no clue how we were going to pay our mortgage. We borrowed money from his parents and my parents, who both are not wealthy, even my sister who was a poor student…I think she only had $200 in her account. We were literally trying to figure out how to survive.

That is when I started making the sunscreen. I knew that I had this idea in my body and in my soul. I just needed the catalyst to start it. I think it is interesting because people think you need loads of money to start a business, but it is just not the case. I put $7.00 a day (which I really didn’t have to spend) in ads. I was using a credit card for the ad budget, and every sale I had, I put right back in to invest and then it started to snowball.

For me, the biggest take away from that is that if you do what you love with intention, honesty, and earnest integrity, things will happen for you. When we were broke as a joke, I was trying everything to make money — and things that didn’t really connect with my inner knowing and my heart. They never worked, they always fell through because it wasn’t really who I was. When and when I started this, it easily fell into place.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Oh my god! There have been so many mistakes — always with lessons! I don’t even know where to start. We started the business out of my house where we were packaging, sending, making, in my smallish kitchen in Frome, Southwest England. We were doing everything whilst my children were living there, as well as my sister who was helping out with Sweet Bee. We had one other staff member, but it wasn’t enough. We were getting all of these sales and we were trying to do everything to keep up! We had no time to shower, let alone time to put any systems in place to make things easier. We were running on empty.

I had recently gone into remission, and still I was working until 2–3 AM, every day. My sister was working full days for free because we didn’t have enough money to pay her. I guess the mistake there is not planning and maybe not asking for help when we needed it (big time). But in reality how can you plan for things ☺ . But what we did, we always did it for the customer. We tried to put ourselves in their shoes and it worked. It is paying off now. We now have the staff we need in place, so we don’t have to work crazy hours all the time. We now have systems in place so we are not flying by the seat of our pants. But still we always do what we do with love in our heart and for our customers, and I think the dedication really shows through our products.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

So many people have been an integral part of growing Sweet Bee. It has been a real team effort. When I was in the hospital, my dad was making boxes and packing sunscreen in the boxes and sending them to Australia. Who knows if he, a simple Middle American man, even knew where Australia was? But he was willing to do this and have fun with it, because he knew it was important to me.

The person I am the most grateful for my younger sister, Mallory. She came to England really just to help take care of me and my boys when I was recovering and got completely roped into Sweet Bee. There were many times that she forced me to go to bed even though she was staying up to finish making products or labeling or whatever. Reminding me that I was still healing and I needed time to rest. She is still here and working for Sweet Bee and helping me as my right-hand woman. I couldn’t have done any of this without her and it has really strengthened out relationships as sisters. We have fought about it, cried about it, laughed about it, we’ve drank a lot about it, and now we get to sit and marvel at the accomplishments of Sweet Bee.

There are so many other people. My first ever hire, Caroline, has played such a valuable role. I mean honestly, she knows where everything is so we would be lost without her. Our head of production, Stefano, came in when we were dying and just transformed the way we produce and has helped us grow massively.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I believe what we are doing here at Sweet Bee is making an impact, one customer at a time, by setting individuals on their journey of natural wellbeing. Our customers typically come to us through our top-selling product, Sweet Sleep magnesium butter, which they learn about through an ad or a friend. From there, they start learning about what is in the products they are using and what helps their bodies feel good. How are they boosting their immunity? Or what are they using to help with sleep or hormonal struggles?

I really enjoy sharing educational emails to help get the knowledge out there about other types of products that can help but customers. My emails really come from the heart and aim to slowly educate our customers to take ownership over their own wellness and how they treat their bodies. I want them to understand that Mother Earth can give us the tools we need to keep our bodies and spirits as well. So, although we may start on this very microscale level, I believe that it can eventually impact society on an exponential level. It makes me so excited to know that Sweet Bee Organics’ has arole in a movement to take sovereignty over one’s own health and wellness.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

1. Cold water therapy! I highly recommend showering with cold water or — even better — going for a cold water swim. I do a cold shower every single morning. I started doing it because when I got ill, I learned how cold water therapy increased your white blood cell count in your body. People that do cold water swimming or showering actually have about 30% more white blood cells. White blood cells are the guys that fight the viruses and things like that. So, for me, cold water is crucial! I know it is hard, but it is so worth it. Every time I get out of my shower or river (my top preference) I feel really alive!

2. Medicinal Mushrooms! Medicinal mushrooms are absolutely magical. When I got ill and decided not to do the chemo and radiation, I knew I needed another, more holistic option. My cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and although they took out the tumor, with good margins, they wanted me to take aggressive measures (such as chemo and radiation) to make sure the cancer was completely wiped out.

I got an appointment with an amazing naturopath doctor who used to be an allopathic doctor, so she worked for our national health service in the UK. Her little girl got cancer and she decided to go the natural route, and this is how she discovered the power of mushrooms. Through her research she found that other cultures in Asia, Russia, and the Nordics have been using medical mushroom specifically for cancer for a long time with lots of success. I use a blend of 7 mushrooms that I take every single day, twice a day. They are amazing for boosting your immune system, cognitive function, and overall health. We here have a couple of blends we sell at Sweet Bee because we believe in them so much and we want them to be available to everyone.

3. Breathwork! It has changed the way I react to my children and my spouse. It has changed my world. I have an amazing breathwork teacher that is right here in Frome, the world-renown Christopher Gladwell. I don’t know how I got so lucky, but I will take it! I do my practice every morning now and it has just slowed me down and helped my reaction time to be a bit cooler. Please, if you can, look into breathwork. It can literally only take 5 minutes a day to change your whole day.

4. A gratitude practice: This is literally so simple. I think my gratitude practice has truly helped me access the magic of manifestation. Here’s the simple pattern I follow. Every morning when I get up, I hug myself, and tell myself I am beautiful. I say thank you to myself and the universe and I just feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude. I thank everything: the universe, the bed, the house, the children, the dog. Every morning it helps wake up with a bit of gratitude, even if it is just for the spoon and the medicinal mushrooms I use every day.

5. Read the labels on your food. It is also simple and takes no time but allows you to check in with what you are putting in your body. We don’t do this to vilify anything or anyone but to check and see if this is something you actually want to put in your body or not. It will help you shop the perimeter of store aisles rather than the middle of the store and really make empowered choices with your food.

6. Lastly, I would say, have a DANCE PARTY. Get out of your head and out of your body every once in a while and let yourself just feel some music. My secret favorite dance party song is Shakira’s World Cup song Waka Waka to pump you up! I love dancing to it with my boys.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think we are in the process of trying to do that. We are currently launching a new platform that isn’t about products but more about grabbing and honoring all forms of knowledge of earthly wellness. My sister Mallory and I are starting this initiative, Wellness Folk, together. Our goal is to truly educate people about personal wellbeing and natural products. We want to be able to speak deeply about the gifts of nature and her medicine. We get the pleasure of working with gorgeous ingredients every single day, but because we sell products, we cannot always dive deep into all of their benefits.

This is the movement that we want to start and be apart: finding and honoring all the traditions that make you feel good. Not just from a supplement standpoint but from a holistic view of wellness to help people really feel good.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1. It is fun doing what you love, and it is a joy and to do it as soon as you possibly can. This may not be a normal thing to say because it is not “a don’t do this” piece of advice. But if you have an idea, just run with it. They say inch by inch is a snitch — go for it! I wake up with so much joy on a Monday and I never thought I would.

2. Organization is important and get good people around you as soon as you can!

3. Overhire, don’t underhire.

4. Ask for help when you need it.

5. Really look who you are bringing on board on your team. It is okay to not be a people pleaser and follow your gut. Trust your inner knowing and it will always be right so trust it. If you don’t listen to it, you always regret it.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I think I would have to say that mental health is probably the most important topic to me. We are all struggling in the COVID world, and I especially see the people I love really struggling. I mean, my parents were supposed to come for Christmas and they can’t. We were supposed to spend summer in the States, and we couldn’t. I have two little boys and I see their mental health struggling, which is a minute problem compared to people that are losing their businesses, their housing, their faith in the government, the will to live. So, I feel really strongly about bringing a really positive message to the world and being a positive person with an open heart that people can come to and ask questions and talk to. I want Sweet Bee to be a place where our employees come to work and want to be here and feel safe here, so I try my best to make this place special so at least when they come in here it is bright and happy. I think mental health is really crucial because when we have happy people, they can care more about the environment, sustainability, they eat better.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

You can follow us on Instagram, @sweetbeeorganics. Please send me a DM — I love, love hearing from people. You can also find us on Facebook and our website which is www.sweetbeeorganics.co.uk in the UK and www.sweetbeeorganics.com in the USA. And honestly, you can call me. I am still the one that answers the phone here. I cannot give that up. I just really really love interacting with my customers and I really care to make sure they are getting the service they deserve.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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