Danielle Brooks & The Honey Truck Co.

Values-Based Gift Holiday Tip #3: BUY LOCAL FOOD

One of my favorite gifts to receive during the holidays (or any time) is definitely food. And what could be better than locally sourced and fresh-made food? If you are thinking of putting together gift baskets for clients, family or out of town guests - be sure to add a jar of local honey to the mix. Honey makes a great sweetner and can be used in so many ways!

We are super lucky in St. Augustine because we have access to some of the best food around. In fact, affordable and plentiful options for local and hyper local food have made me a more discerning traveler as I’m always looking for the local option instead of the easy access chain place. And if we are ever traveling some place that is having a Farmer’s Market, we always stop and pick up some local honey and jams. My mom is a big fan of creating a basket of local goodies to put in the air bnb of guests she has coming in town and/or including our Saturday Farmer’s Market on their tourist itinerary!

I’ve had the extreme pleasure of connecting with Danielle Brooks this year and getting to experience a variety of her hyper-local honey. I’m always blown away by the taste and quality - and seriously, who doesn’t love her amazing branding?!?! I’m honored to share Danielle’s story below, and I hope it will inspire you to include some of your own hyper-local honey in any baskets you create this year or as part of any party you host!

Website: honeytruck.co Instagram: @honeytruckco

Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it? 

I am the proprietor and beekeeper at The Honey Truck Company. I do everything from beekeeping, to social media, to marketing, to pop ups. We serve the residents of St. Augustine by bringing them hyper-local honeys. I have been a beekeeper for 3 years, and I have been in business for a year.

Why did you start your business? 

I first started beekeeping and fell in love with the flavor profile of the honey. Since bees fly a 3 mile radius around the hive, I figured if I put another hive in a different location I would get a different result. So I started putting bees in different locations and it sort of took off. I noticed none of the honey in our stores was coming from St. Augustine, so I saw a need and began to fill it.

What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you? 

I am passionate about educating people about bees, and where their honey is coming from. Bees are so fascinating, and the more we educate others on their importance, the better we will be at protecting them and their resources in the future. I feel an obligation to pass on my knowledge and resources to others so they can be empowered to share it with others.

As a woman in beekeeping I'm automatically in the minority. I also am one of the younger beekeepers. I love that I have a bunch of people to teach me the art of beekeeping, but I also understand how to utilize technology to my advantage. I love that I can be on the forefront of change in this industry. I am using my voice to give voice to the voiceless, and I can do that in a way that has a far greater reach than it used to.

What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?

I love that I work with insects. There is never a day that is identical to another one. Bees are amazing, and I love how intricate their hive systems are. I'm constantly learning. I love being able to drive around town in my vintage truck. There's something sentimental about driving a cherry red ‘63 truck thru the oldest city in America. I'm taking a relic of the past and giving it new life.

What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?

Working with insects. It is both my favorite thing and biggest struggle. I am constantly troubleshooting. If I don't take top care of my bees, they won’t produce honey. No honey, no business. They are an insect, I can't train them like a dog or cat. A lot of what I do centers around them and meeting all their needs. It can be heartbreaking because you pour your time and resources into a wild animal and sometimes it isn't enough and the hive fails. At a certain point it's up to them.

What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years? 

In the next year I hope to have a warehouse space to process my honey. Hopefully we will have a little area where people can come in and pick up a jar of honey on their way home from work. Within the next 5 years we hope to expand the Honey Truck brand nationally. We want to be able to sell honeys that aren't harvested in St. Augustine. We hope to be able to highlight other regions and flavors while still being transparent with consumers about where their honey is coming from.

Who are your business icons, heroins, or mentors? 

My mentor is Bo Sterk. He is such a generous person with his time and resources. I have given him countless phone calls with questions about my bees. He has always been quick to help and is always there to help me troubleshoot.

As for a business icon I would say my husband, Rich. Or as I lovingly call him, "My Luscious Piece of White Chocolate." He is so business oriented and he is great to bounce ideas off of. I'm a dreamer and he is a planner so he helps me put my dreams into tangible game plans for the future. He is driven and passionate about what he does and he is always willing to support me whatever the need may be.

What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business? 

Bet on yourself. If you are driven and have a great idea, just try it. Don't be afraid to fail. In such a social media driven world you never know who is watching you and who you may inspire to do something great.

What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?

Bee College!!! Yes, Bee College. Every year the University of Florida hosts a 2-day event filled with classes and hands on experiences. They do a great job of making sure they have a wide variety of classes for different levels of beekeepers. Everything from Bees 101 to how to deal with Varroa Mites. It's a great resource and as a beekeeper I'm so lucky that resource is practically in my backyard.

What is the last book you read? 

Start With Why by Simon Sinek. I would recommend this to anyone just starting out in business. It challenges you to come up with a statement of why you are doing what you are doing. Everything you do in business should stem from your why. You aren't selling a product you are creating a movement people can be a part of. By starting with why you do something, you set yourself up as a leader and not a follower.