Growing up around bees, Helena van der Westhuizen has always known how valuable bees are to our planet and the amazing benefits that come from bee products, so when she discovered that she was allergic to the synthetic ingredients commonly found in commercial cosmetic products, the pieces of the puzzle came together, and Simply Bee was started in 2011.
We chatted to Helena about how her personal experiences led her to start Simply Bee, a thriving business with a range of natural beeswax products that are sustainable and environmentally friendly for both the body and the home; and the importance of educating consumers about the many benefits of natural beeswax products and ethical and responsible beekeeping.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START A BUSINESS FOCUSSED ON NATURAL BEESWAX PRODUCTS?
My father was a beekeeper and from a young age, I learned about the many benefits of bees and bee products. After discovering I was allergic to most commercial cosmetics due to the alcohol and parabens found in them, I realized I had all these amazing natural ingredients to work with instead. After much research I started Simply Bee products and what a great journey it has been! We now have over 70 products in our range and my husband, and I are very proud to be able to continue with the hard work and the legacy my father left behind. I will be forever thankful to him.
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS FOR WOMEN IN BUSINESS TO POSSESS, AND WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED AS A WOMAN IN BUSINESS?
Believe in what you are doing, set your goals and your standards for your company and stick to them. As a woman, my biggest challenge has been to draw a line between business and family life. Family life should always come first and finding a good balance is not always easy. It took 12 years of searching for the right person to take charge of the business so that I can spend more time with my family and concentrate on my true passion for formulating products and new ideas for the business.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS IN YOUR CAREER, AND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO KEEP WORKING TOWARDS YOUR GOALS?
I had three goals when starting Simply Bee: To provide an all-natural product, to place a product in the market that was the best quality but still affordable and to create jobs for people in our town – and I am very proud to say that we have achieved all 3 and continue to grow these goals.
I am motivated by the fact that my passion to formulate products can help people and create more jobs for women. Having the opportunity to embrace and support the talents of women in my business is very empowering and satisfying. Currently, we are a 95% female-run company!
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GOALS FOR THE FUTURE OF YOUR BUSINESS, AND HOW DO YOU PLAN TO ACHIEVE THEM?
A big goal for Simply Bee is to create ongoing awareness about bees and their conservation for the future. We as humans cannot live without bees – as Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” This is why it is so important that we promote ethical and responsible beekeeping.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN WHO ARE STARTING IN THEIR CAREERS OR CONSIDERING A CAREER IN BUSINESS?
Master your mindset. Your mindset doesn’t simply influence the way you think, it also impacts the way you act and how you present yourself. Speak up, be confident and proud! It’s important to find your voice and use it. Take a step-by-step approach. Learn to embrace rejection and how to change a negative into a positive and use it to your advantage. Learn from your team and keep the end goal in mind.
For more information about Simply Bee products and to shop online, visit www.simplybee.co.za.