Sweet Bee Organics create boutique, organic wellness products for the mind, body and soul. Each ingredient is carefully hand selected and ethically sourced from Pachamama. Founder Hollie King launched the brand in 2018, selling one key product – natural sunscreen. After being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer, she decided to switch up her lifestyle, and expanded the brand into the holistic wellness platform that it is today.
Tell us a little more about your role within the company and why you came up with the idea of Sweet Bee?
I am the owner and founder of Sweet Bee Organics. My role is pretty strategic these days, but I always set aside one to two days a week for product development (which is my biggest passion). I came up with Sweet Bee when I couldn’t find an organic sunscreen that I wanted to put on my little boys. Everything had stuff in it that I didn’t agree with and absolutely nothing was packaged sustainably. After being diagnosed with cervical cancer and going through my surgery, I decided to opt for holistic remedies to stay in remission, and expanded Sweet Bee into what it is today.
What was it that gave you the courage to opt for natural remedies to stay in remission during such a difficult time? And what was it that you decided to use?
I’m not sure it was courage. It’s just my core beliefs that chemo and radiation are poisonous to the body. I had an inner-knowing that it would do more harm than good. Personally, I think it takes more courage to use chemo and radiation. It’s scary stuff! I use medicinal mushrooms. I still take them every day. There are some amazing studies and science on how powerful medicinal mushrooms are. I work with a doctor who works solely with cancer patients. She has helped me come up with the perfect combination to keep me well.
Why did you pick the name Sweet Bee?
It’s kind of a random story. I was dropping my eldest son off at school. I was talking to a friend about my sunscreen and she asked ‘what are you going to call it?’ Sweet Bee just kind of came out of mouth and there it was! ☺
Where do you draw the inspiration for your custom blends?
So many places! I do a lot of late night research. It usually starts with one ingredient and then the inspiration flows from there. What we really like to do is work with obscure herbs and ingredients – ones that aren’t exploited.
What do you think of slightly more taboo plant medicines such as psychedelic mushrooms?
Great question! I think they are very powerful and definitely have their place. Psilocybin (which is the naturally occurring psychedelic) has been shown to help with depression, trauma and anxiety. I find it deeply interesting. Psychedelic mushrooms and other plant medicines can also bring deep insights to the user. I believe they should be legal so that we can study the effects deeper. It excites me very much to see the studies that are already surfacing.
How can we better balance mainstream medicines and alternative therapies?
I think I am a perfect example of a good balance. When I was first diagnosed with my cancer, I wanted to only use alternative medicine, but my tumour doubled in size within 3 weeks. It was so large, I couldn’t hold my 2 year old any more. I knew I needed it out to really heal. So, I opted for a very intense surgery to remove the tumour. I asked my surgeon not to do any other treatments and he respected this.
After having my tumour removed, I knew I could use ‘alternative’ medicine to ensure that it didn’t come back. My cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and I was able to counter its spread using my medicinal mushrooms and keeping a clean diet. There is currently zero sign of cancer. I think we need more doctors like mine. He respected my decisions (even though he may not have agreed). He didn’t bully me into having chemo and radiation, and I felt like he helped me stay optimistic and honoured my sovereignty.
What are your thoughts on ‘energy medicine’?
Oh yes! I find it so interesting. There are so many amazing healers out there and I feel like we are all only just scratching the surface with how powerful we as humans really are.
Had you had experience in business before?
Sort of. I have a Bachelors degree in Finance and Economics and was in sales before, but I had never run my own business before, no.
Did you fundraise for your business?
I started really slow and every penny I made, I reinvested. We literally had no money when I started. My husband had lost his job and we were really struggling financially. I had an Amex with a few thousand pounds on it; that’s all I used to get started.
What difficulties did you face with getting it off the ground and how did you get around them?
Through this process there have been so many difficulties. Ingredients not showing up, staff issues, personal life issues, worry about sales and money and so much more. My way of getting around these things is to literally just take the next step to get through it. I love the saying, ‘Inch by inch is a cinch.’ If you just take little baby steps toward your goal, it becomes easy. Also, I have a strong gratitude practise. I wake up every day and give thanks for everything, and I deeply feel the gratitude within.
What social challenges have arisen, and what sacrifices have been made?
I would say the biggest sacrifice I have made is my time. In the beginning, I didn’t even have time to eat or sleep. But the strong sense of inspiration I felt made it easy to sacrifice.
What’s the smallest change that’s given the biggest return?
Definitely hiring the right people. When I hired a customer service person, it changed my whole world. Before her, I was literally answering so many emails which left very little time to do anything else.
What motivates you?
My biggest motivator is creating products that deeply help people and bring them joy. Nothing makes me smile more than a call from a customer telling me how one of our products has changed their life. It’s heaven!
What’s been your biggest achievement in life thus far?
Becoming a mother. After experiencing the birth of my two boys – I know how powerful I am. My body is amazing! It really felt like the beginning of something bigger. Especially after the birth of my second child, Odin. I had him in my living room. I was surrounded by some of my most favourite women and had the most spectacular birth. After having him, I felt invincible. Then my tango with cancer gave me a new lease on life. I said that I would only do things that bring me joy. That is my motto now. If it doesn’t bring me joy, I don’t do it. I guess it just took a brush with death to really wake me up.
And biggest lesson / failure?
I’m not sure I’ve had any real failures, but my biggest lesson is that you need good people around you and it’s ok to delegate. It was really hard for me to delegate to people, but once I did, I found that everyone has their strengths and it is so brilliant to watch people do something better than you can.
What you know, or who you know?
Oh man, I don’t know!! Probably what you know. Knowledge is power and once you become somewhat of an expert, the right people start to come into orbit.
How do you deal with burnout?
I haven’t really felt any real burn out with Sweet Bee. I think it’s because I’ve learned what I need to thrive by having cancer. It makes you realise that you have to deeply care for yourself, to care for others. So, I have a daily practise to help me feel good. It starts with 10-15 minutes of yoga, a cold water swim in the river (or a cold shower) and then yoga before I go to bed. These little things have kept me feeling good.
Do you have a mentor or people you ask for advice?
At the moment, I really rely on my sister (who works for Sweet Bee). We are really great at bouncing ideas off one another. It may sound silly, but I really do trust my gut. I also have an amazing accountant, but am looking for someone who has done this before.
What is your favourite interview question and how would you answer it?
I really like telling my story on how this all happened.
What percentage of your time do you keep unscheduled?
About 50% or more. I like to do things when they feel right.
If you weren’t running Sweet Bee, what would you be doing?
Oh my, I have no idea. I was studying to be a homeopath, so probably that or something in the healing world.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I think my strengths are my honesty, my integrity and tenacity. My weaknesses are getting bored, getting overwhelmed and not doing anything.
How has what you do changed you as a person?
I think it’s changed me completely. I have full belief in myself. I know that I can do anything. I also have a deep respect for Mother Earth. The more I explore her gifts, the more in awe I am.
If time and money were no object, what would be on your To Do and To See lists?
I am desperately looking forward to (hopefully) travelling soon. I really want to spend some time at the Green School in Bali to give my boys a chance to go to school in another culture. Also, I am totally in LOVE with Northern Sweden, I’d really like to have a house there. I spent some time there in December and it completely stole my heart. Lastly, I’d like to have a farm by a river that I can swim in every morning.
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Sweet Bee offer an entire organic collection of oral and topical products for female wellness and menopause relief, including elixirs, serums, bath powders, vaginal steams and balancing blends. Here are some of our favourites:
Sweet Sleep Magnesium Butter
Many of us are actually magnesium deficient, and our soil doesn’t have the nutrients it once had – meaning organic farm produce is no longer as nourishing as it used to be. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include trouble sleeping, migraines, anxiety and restless leg syndrome (guilty).
One grape-sized portion of this magnesium rich body butter contains 360mg magnesium when applied to your bodies largest organ – the skin, alongside a healthy dose of aromatherapeutic lavender essential oils that will have you compulsively smelling your arms as you hug your pillow in bed. The grainy beads of this rich butter simply melt in your palms on application, and it can gently tingle a little at first.
The bioavailability (how much is absorbed into the skin) when it comes to topical creams is still one of contentious debate, and most likely, as with most things – it will depend on context (who, what, where, when and for what ends). So as this inexpensive and side-effect-free butter is so unassumingly charming and simple to use, we’d say the proof is in the pudding. Hand-blended by Hollie herself, this plant-based formula with nourishing mango butter, pure magnesium chloride, beeswax and coconut oil already hosts thousands of rave reviews that you can view for yourself.
Sacred Roots Healing Chocolate
Re-alignment and re-balancing starts with re-visiting our roots. Mushrooms and chocolate might not sound like the most intuitive pairing, but this blend expertly pairs the numerous benefits of Reishi and Chaga mushrooms with the sacred gift of cacao. The result is both delightfully earthy and luxuriously velvety at the same time – perfect when finished with a little coconut cream.
We don’t need any excuse to drink hot chocolate, but when it can boost mood and wellbeing in its raw form, through its high-quality antioxidant benefits, source of iron, magnesium, calcium and fibre, we may have to power through a few 500g jars a week. It arrives lightly salted with natural Himalayan pink salts, and the addition of cinnamon helps to stabilise blood sugar levels.
Sacred Skin Black Soap Cleanser
A blend of some of Africa’s best kept beauty secrets, this purifying mix of ethically sourced African palm, cacao ash, sweet almond and babassu oils, alongside grapefruit peel and Bentonite clay is designed to hydrate and regenerate, leaving an all-day glow. Soften a little of the balm between your fingers and feel this gentle scrub transform into a silky cleanser with a smooth finish.
The oils have been hand-picked to ensure that they are non-comedogenic for the face (non-pore blocking), making it a gentle breakout remedy for all skin types, and allowing your skin the space it needs to heal. Having spent months testing it herself, Hollie also found that it doubles up as a beautiful shaving balm (personally we think its too good to be resigned to the pits).
Pure Pits Organic Armpit Detox
There’s just something intuitively uncomfortable about the conventional, aluminium-laden anti-perspirants. While there aren’t any strong studies that label them as unsafe, many high street brands do still contain ingredients from the Breast Cancer Awareness Ditch The Junk Campaign.
On the other side of the table, many of us who’ve already experimented with the salt rock sticks, crystal roll-ons and peppermint pit pastes have often found them ineffective at best. In the same way that using shampoo too often can make your hair grease up faster, over-use of chemical cosmetics can sometimes lead to a vicious cycle. Having a little break before moving onto cleaner solutions could lead to a better result.
Sweet Bee’s pit paste contains organic activated charcoal (which is also sometimes used in hospitals in the event of an overdose, as its so effective at binding toxins and removing them from the body), Bentonite Clay traditionally renowned for drawing out impurities, and soothing calendula. As with many of Sweet Bees natural remedies, they’re safe enough to double up as multi-purpose conveniences, and the pure pits remedy also serves as a potent cleansing face mask.
Unlike your run of the mill deodorant, this is applied in a slightly different way, and we love the meditative application ritual: mix a tablespoon of the paste with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar or water until you get the consistency of greek yoghurt, apply to the underarms and wait 15-20 minutes before rinsing with a warm cloth. It’s recommended that it’s applied every 7 days.