Chandler Honey isn’t exactly a family business — though it does have the family’s surname and honey pretty much runs in the founder’s veins. After all, Tique Chandler’s parents own a bee farm.
But Chandler Honey isn’t a rebrand of her family’s business, which has been in operation since 1937. It’s Tique’s very own company — one she started from her apartment in November 2020, making distinctive flavor infusions of honey sourced directly from her parents’ bees. Since then, Tique has filled more than 27,000 jars with its honey creations, flavors such as “Mango Bellini” and “Créme Brûlée”.
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“I think with honey […] the sourcing of it is so important [because] the customer is getting more aware of the fact that there’s fake honey out there,” Tique said. “I wanted to pull in my family story, so that people could trust the honey source that they’re getting it from.”
Her family’s farm is in Scandia, a tiny town in Alberta of a little more than 100 people. And let’s just say, she got plenty of hands-on experience beekeeping.
“[I was] so lucky to grow up there and to be getting my hands dirty, getting stung by bees all the time,” Tique said.
By the time she decided to start her own honey company, she knew she wanted to incorporate her family history and put her last name on the jar.
“This is a part of me,” she explained. “ If I [don’t have] a product that meets my own personal standards […], then I’m doing something wrong.”
With the brand so closely tied to her personal identity, Tique has embraced the chance to introduce herself, whether that’s through social media or at farmers markets. On Instagram, she often replies to comments and even takes flavor suggestions.
“I’ve got my community saying, ‘Hey, like gingerbread sounds amazing for Christmas. Like, can we make that happen?’,” Tique said. “I will walk people through on my Instagram stories exactly what the testing process looks like, exactly what decisions go into it, creating the labels, all these things that make them feel like they’re a part of the process.”
And unlike a lot of other businesses that might cut their honey recipes with water or import from other countries, Tique takes pride in owning the production process and knowing her partners. Even the jars are sourced locally in Canada.
“I love at least for my product that I control all the production. I have the production space myself. I still am very hands on with production,” she said. “And I don’t think I’ll ever give that up. I encourage you if you are just starting out, particularly in the food business, to keep as much control over it as you can because if you’re at the mercy of your producer, that just makes things extra difficult.”
Another challenge for people in the food business is selling something that consumers need to taste — something that’s a little tough to do with an online store. And because Chandler Honey launched during the pandemic, Tique wasn’t doing samples at grocery stores and farmers markets.
“It was super important for me to invest money in product photography,” Tique said. “So letting people kind of taste it with their eyes, showcasing the ingredients that go into the honey with the product itself.”
After all, the ingredients Tique infuses in her honey is what sets her apart — even from her parent’s business.
Take a listen to Chandler’s full interview on Shopify Masters to learn how you can start your own food business online.