Between packaging orders and raising her three kids, Stella Sehn, founder of Sweet Pure Honey, spoke with Invest Medicine Hat about reaching her market and a unique tool that is allowing her company to literally tap into the farm to table market.
- From hive to market, Sehn fosters a connection with her customers
- Medicine Hat’s sunny skies and affordable homes ideal combination for small business owners
Driving a car packed full of honey and three kids, Sehn made the eight-hour trek from her apiary in Porcupine Plain, Sask. to sell her products at her first Medicine Hat farmers market 10 years ago. She sold out of product on the first day and knew that she found the place where she could base her business.
“Hatters are very supportive of farmers and are keen to support local businesses,” said Sehn, whose business was recognized with the 2016 Chamber of Commerce Business Ethics Award.
Sehn’s company, Sweet Pure Honey, sells Raw Canada No. 1 honey, soaps, cosmetic and home products. The number one seller, Raw Canada No. 1 honey, can be found on the shelves of Nutters and the lip balm is a fan favourite.
Orders have been placed from as far away as Indonesia, however, Medicine Hat and Ontario are Sweet Pure Honey’s biggest markets. The key to reaching customers, outside of the local farmers’ markets, has been with email campaigns and establishing an online presence with a website and social media.
“Having a website and online store allows to me to sell my products between harvest and farmers market seasons,” said Sehn.
This past year, Sehn and her husband and apiarist, Sheldon Hill, began to tap into the trend of health conscious consumers who demand local products that are as natural as possible by using an innovative technology called Flow Hive. The technology extracts honey from the hive with little disturbance to the bees and pours it directly into jars.
“It’s a new line of specialty honey for us and I sold out of honey on my first day in Kelowna and also in Medicine Hat,” said Sehn.
Three years ago, Sehn decided to move to Medicine Hat and run the small business from her home. The apiary is closer to Saskatoon and Regina, but she chose Medicine Hat for the weather, affordability and the successful market for Sweet Pure Honey.
“Being a home owner is possible in Medicine Hat. On top of that, I live three blocks away from a post office, which makes easy to send orders to anywhere in Canada or the world,” said Sehn.
Indeed, the numbers back up Sehn’s comments. Medicine Hat was recognized as the most affordable city in Alberta to purchase a home and the city has an extended patio season with more sunshine hours than any city in Canada.