In our brand spotlight, we feature Abound brands who are ready for retail. This week we sat down with Greta McCoy, owner of Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup. Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup sells honey simple syrup, cocktail gifts, and gift sets, is based in Davidson, North Carolina, and has been in business for three years.
Robin: Why did you decide to start this business? Why this business and not a different one?
Greta: I’ve always made my own honey syrup and told others about my recipes. One day I wondered: why can’t this all-natural honey syrup be bottled and available for everyone to purchase and use? After lots of hard work, I’ve perfected my syrup and drink recipes to share, and I hope you’ll love them as much as my family does.
A hippy and minimalist at heart, I adore organic and natural products and believe we should all eat and drink as naturally as our ancestors did.
R: How did you make your first prototype? What changes have you made to your product since then?
G: I started off with so many recipes to get the right combination of ingredients that would be shelf stable. The company I worked with urged me to add preservatives to give the bottles a longer shelf life, but adding preservatives was the last thing I wanted to do.
I researched on my own and found a combination of organic lemon juice and a very small amount of organic apple cider vinegar can act as a natural preservative. After many, many trials, we found the correct amount of ingredients for the best tasting products, and we hope you love them as much as our family does!
R: How do you make your product? What’s your process like?
G: I make the honey syrups myself in a commercial kitchen close to my hometown. I hand assemble the cocktail gift sets as well. Everything is made and assembled in North Carolina.
R: What’s your day to day like? Do you have any favorite and least favorite parts?
G: Every day is different. Some days I am cooking and bottling the syrup, other days I am packaging our products to go to different stores or online merchants. Other days I’m setting up for a day of sales at a local pop-up event.
My favorite parts are getting into new stores, experimenting with new recipes, and cocktail taste testing of course. My least favorite part is sales, I love talking with customers at pop-up events, but reaching out to potential buyers is not my favorite.
R: What was your initial investment? How did you get the money?
G: We used our savings to fund our initial start up investment. The business was a few thousand dollars to start up, but then there was a long time of not making any profit, as any money we made from sales had to go back into the company. We are now finally at a place where the business is profitable and growing.
R: Where was the first place you started selling your product?
G: I first started selling locally to shops in Charlotte, NC and our own website.
R: Where do you sell your product now?
G: We are in about 35 different stores and online platforms like Amazon, Abound, and Faire.
R: Where would you love to sell your products in the future?
G: Whole Foods would be a dream location.
R: Do you have a favorite product? If so, which one?
G: Our Ginger Spice Honey Simple Syrup is my favorite! It’s not too spicy, it adds just enough ginger flavor to accent cocktails well.
R: What’s your marketing like? Is social media an important part of your business? If so, how?
G: Social media is an important part of our marketing along with Amazon and online selling platforms like Abound.
R: What are some of the most frustrating challenges and/or moments you’ve had with Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup?
G: That it is very expensive to market and advertise a small business. We have been very lucky to receive great news articles in local publications, but those are difficult to find.
R: What are some of your greatest achievements and victories you’ve had with Hudson & Lee Honey Simple Syrup?
G: I think making it this far and getting out of the weeds and profitable is our greatest achievement. Each new store we get into is always a victory along with repeat customers and store orders. We love getting feedback from customers that are loving our products too!
R: What advice do you have for people who want to sell a product?
G: Unless you are making the “next big thing,” prepare to not collect a paycheck for a while and make sure you can financially handle that. As passionate as you can be with your product, it costs money to have a brand and re-investing in that brand is a constant.
If you are doing what you love, keep up with it. Businesses grow and it’s wonderful to see something you created blossom.
R: Is there any business advice or quotes you’ve heard that you think about often?
“Don’t be like the rest of them, darling.” -Coco Chanel
R: What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner?
G: The flexibility of having my own business is amazing! I can work at night if I’m with my children during the day and and vice versa. I work hard but I can also play hard when I don’t have a busy day.