The Little Beekeeper
Laylah Hunt is generating buzz over her honey and syrups.By Leah Chester-Davis | Photos by Leah Chester-Davis
Thirteen-year-old Laylah Hunt knows that a good story is one way to create some buzz for food buyers as they stop by her family’s booth “The Little Beekeeper” at the Flavors of Carolina food show held in Concord each spring.
Hosted by the NC Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services and designed to put North Carolina products in front of hundreds of domestic and international buyers, food entrepreneurs get a rare chance to tout their tasty creations.
“It was so interesting because I got to tell my story over and over and I got to meet all kinds of new people,” Laylah says, who very well may have been the youngest businessperson at the event (though being a trailblazer for her age group is nothing new to the curly haired, smiling, outgoing middle school student.)
Her family’s product, The Little Beekeeper, is named for the moniker she earned three years ago when she became the youngest certified beekeeper in the state after completing the introductory beekeeping class taught by the Gaston County Beekeepers Association and passed the certification exam. Laylah got her start when she attended classes on occasion with her Mom, Cindy. When her Dad, Johnnie, signed up for the class the following year, Laylah decided it was time to learn more.
“I begged him to take me with him so I could take the class, too. I took it pretty seriously. I have a whole notebook filled with notes,” she says. She also gained a mentor, Burton Beasley, who she says makes bee school fun. “He takes it to a whole other level.”
The family’s original intent was beekeeping as a hobby.
“We wanted to help the environment and keep pollinators on our property,” Cindy says.
But the attention Laylah received as The Little Beekeeper resulted in requests for their honey, and it has turned into a full-blown business.
The family, members of Rutherford EMC, now has 30 hives with plans to add more. Laylah has been interviewed by WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, and was recognized on the cover of Lake Norman Woman magazine for its 8th Annual Amazing Lake Norman Girls issue.
The Little Beekeeper products — local raw honey and elderberry syrup — are now in 35 stores and can be ordered from the company website, thelittlebeekeeper.com. While Laylah’s major responsibility is checking the hives, she is learning business basics beyond the meet-and-greet sales experience at trade shows.
A self-professed entrepreneur, she has a beeswax lip gloss under development. When she came up with the idea, her parents asked her to find out what ingredients she needed, to shop around for prices, determine types of containers and labels she would need, and to give them a cost analysis. When Laylah participates in trade shows and other events, her parents ensure she hones analytic skills and people skills.
“We are a small family company, and we are trying to teach her about having a good work ethic and to be a good, well-rounded human being,” explains Cindy.
With the product being named for her and the company’s logo an illustration of her likeness, Laylah takes her role seriously, not only as a representative for the company, but as an ambassador for the tiny insect that captivates her interest.
“It’s fascinating to see how they work in perfect harmony,” Laylah says. “You can learn a lot from bees, especially because of how small they are but how big of an impact they have on the world. Without bees, almost all of our fruits and vegetables would perish. It would be super, super terrible if bees ever went extinct. So that’s like a good little memo that you are never too small to make an impact.”
Buy Local NC!
Bourbon infused, pumpkin spiced,lemon infused, raw and more—pick your favorite honey from The Little Beekeeper online store. Or figure out if it's sold near you. Elderberry syrup too!
About the AuthorCarolina Country Contributing Editor Leah Chester-Davis has her own business, Chester-Davis Communications (chester-davis.com), specializing in food, farm and lifestyle brands and organizations.
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