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Leveraging the Power of Honey to Break Barriers

(Boston, MA 11/29/18) Mayor Martin Walsh and Ivy Lawson cut the ribbon for Ivyee’s Everything Honey in Boston’s North End. (Mayor’s Office Photo by John Wilcox)

When she realized how many toxic chemicals were found in her everyday products, Ivy immediately began creating natural products at home for her family. However, it wasn’t until Ivy traveled back to her native Jamaica to conduct a study with bee farmers that she decided to turn her hobby into a business.

Founded in 2008, Ivyees ‘Everything Honey’ is an all-natural beauty line of raw honey-based products, including toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, and skin care products. “I was always concerned about…what my family is using on our skin,” Ivy said. “I started reading labels and learned that tons of chemicals are in the products we use on a daily basis.”

After successfully expanding her business to stock Whole Foods stores across the North Atlantic and on Amazon, Ivy realized something was missing. A customer-driven business woman, Ivy decided to take a leap of faith and open a storefront location. “It was a risk for me to take and say ‘Let me open a brick-and-mortar.’ The reason why I opened it is because I wanted to have a place where my customers can come in and get educated on my products.”

In order to grow her company’s capacity to sustainably manage a retail location, Ivy turned to the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program for guidance in 2016. ICCC gave Ivy access to crucial information on strategic planning, a skill she needed when opening a brick-and-mortar. “[ICCC] has been wonderful in all the connections I’ve been able to make. Having access to networks and on how to run your business, you don’t just get it anywhere.”

Four months into opening her shop, Ivy has not only received attention from the Mayor’s and Governor’s offices, but also from her local community, Boston’s historic North End, which is predominately Italian. “It’s a closely-knit community, [and they have] been very gracious. All the restaurant owners and shop-keepers…have been very supportive. Each of them has come by and extended their welcome…and they like the fact that I’m selling everyday natural products.”

Ivy credits ICCC with opening the door to tools she needed to help run her business effectively, increase her customer retention rates, and grow demand for her products. Since opening her shop, she’s seen her foot traffic and sales increase, introducing her to new growth venture opportunities. “I’ve gotten a lot of information and traction from all of the resources provided, and I’m really appreciative of the services [ICCC] provides.”

Eager to grow and expand, Ivy plans to apply the knowledge she gained from ICCC as she takes advantage of other resources. For example, she is currently participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program, another of ICIC’s Urban Business Initiatives. As she executes her growth strategy, which includes expansion across the country and into Europe, she will continue to apply the skills she first learned from ICCC.

Learn more about the Inner City Capital Connections (ICCC) program

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