In the summer of 2017, Mandy Memmel had an epiphany. Her organization, The Well, a nonprofit that mentors underserved women in the Curtis Bay neighborhood, had been around for two years.
She had built a community of women, coaching them through relationship building, financial management, and even teaching them to grocery shop. Yet, Memmel felt it wasn’t enough. She realized there was an opportunity to make even more of a difference in these women’s lives—so she decided to expand the existing workforce development program into a social enterprise.
“I knew I was going to start a business, but I didn’t know what it was going to be,” Memmel says. Until one day, at a community meeting, a beekeeper from the Filbert Street Gardens mentioned an unusual overflow of honey coming from their new hive. Memmel has always believed that Baltimore would be prosperous. This felt like a sign: “I thought at that moment, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Immediately, she knew that her new business would be centered around local, raw honey. Over the next year, with the help of her daughter, Jordan Moyer, and The Well’s Program Director, Erin Allison (pictured with Memmel, above), Memmel built up a team and researched healing products that can be made with honey. By September 2018, Hon’s Honey was launched as an online shop selling jars of raw honey along with a handful of body care products formulated with raw honey and essential oils.
Six women survivors work at Hon’s Honey today. Each has gone through The Well’s mentorship program and is further coached through reaching personal goals and achievements. They take pride in the fact that all of the products sold by Hon’s Honey are handmade from scratch, right through the packaging and labeling.
“It’s a very healing process to see something you’ve created, watching people get excited about your product,” says Memmel. “It gives amazing esteem, confidence, and capability for these women.”
The beauty products at Hon’s Honey are sustainably made, use natural ingredients, and are Fair Trade. The honey rejuvenates the skin with its richness of antioxidants, while simultaneously acting as an antibacterial and natural clarifier that unclogs pores and prevents acne breakouts. The sales of the products benefit women who have turned their lives around, helping to encourage communities in Baltimore to take a step in a better direction. Who knew just how healing honey could be?