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.
I am a new business and just started carrying Hudson & Lee products before holidays, I am extremely pleased with the products, the presentation, etc. I create Apothecary Cocktail Kits for sale in my shop and I am now including both Honey Syrups and the Cocktail Shakers in many of my kits, especially the Mule Kits as they blend well with Copper Mugs.
Thanks and let’s keep going!!
That’s great! So good to hear.