Behind the Brand with Beatrice Feliu-Espada, Founder of The Honey Pot
It's no secret that unfortunately, there are many toxins and chemicals hiding in most tampons, pads and feminine washes. As someone that struggled with chronic yeast infections for years, and is a wellness junkie, I am not one to try new “feminine hygiene” products. I have a probiotic for that. However, last summer as I was walking through Target I spotted some “Sensitive Wipes” from a brand called The Honey Pot, a plant-based feminine hygiene company. I thought they could be convenient post-workouts and everything else really. (PS:they are). After giving them a try, I’ve been hooked on Honey Pot products ever since, from wipes, washes to pads, I’ll never use anything else. Seriously, I’ve introduced many friends to the brand and the reviews are in, they are healing and soothing using organic essential oils, coconut oil and aloe. It’s a relief to have an all-natural brand you can trust. Imagine my surprise when I walked in to an event at Iwi Fresh Spa in Atlanta and met none other than the founder of The Honey Pot- Beatrice! She offered honest and relatable insight on so many feminine issues that are not talked about enough. After healing her own Bacterial Vaginitis with the formula that is now sold in Targets nationwide as the Honey Pot wash, she is on a mission to bring these products and knowledge to women everywhere. She was one of the panelists at our “Inside Wellness” panel and shared even more wisdom with our attendees. (*#1 quick takeaway tip: Don’t store your tampons/pads in the bathroom. Even in the packaging they are susceptible to mold and bacteria in the damp conditions of bathrooms). Now, we’re bringing some Bea to you!
Tell us about you! Where are you from and how has that influenced the path you’ve taken in life?
I was born in Virginia, but moved to Arizona when I was young and that’s where I grew up. I never liked Arizona, it wasn’t culturally diverse and I never saw people that looked like me. The moment I was old enough, I got the hell out of there and moved to Atlanta. You can get whatever you want in Atlanta, this is the place where I’ve launched my life’s work and I will always see it for that. There are so many young women and young African-Americans having some measure of success here. I’ve since moved my mom to Atlanta as well, but ultimately, home is where I make it.
What was your business background prior to launching your company in 2014?
Until June 30, 2017, I was juggling both The Honey Pot and a full-time job. My old boss knew about The Honey Pot and hired me because of my entrepreneur side, which was amazing.. I’ve been told no more than I’ve been told yes, but I’ve also been at the right place at the right time since starting my business. I was previously a buyer and merchandiser at Whole Foods, and an area sales manager, so I’ve held all of these positions that I will need to one day hire for. When that day comes, I’ve been there done that. I’ve tried to surround myself with people that were as smart or smarter than me. I asked Simon Gray, who’s like a big brother to me to be my CFO and help with investors and we met Linda Gray at a trade show. She took on our social media management for free and now she handles all our social media and marketing, I look up to her for taking that on. I looked up to Nubian Heritage founder Richelieu Dennis, I knew of his brand back living in AZ and they were selling products out of cars and now it’s close to a billion-dollar business.
Is there an inspiration or meaning behind the name, Honey Pot? If so, where did it come from?
One day I was driving down the street by Buddy’s gas station by Virginia Highlands (in Atlanta), and saw a sign for a band called the Honey Pot Band and it was a eureka moment. I knew that was going to be my companies’ name.
What has been the biggest myth or misconception you’ve heard about the feminine hygiene industry? What myths do you hope your work will help to dispel?
The biggest misconception & miscommunication is that the vagina is a self-cleaning oven. The vagina is, but the exterior vulva is not and it needs to be cared for. If you take care of the outside properly the inside self-cleaning will happen.
The internal cleaning is closely tied to what you eat and how you care for yourself. Women that just want to cover up an odor, and douche or use a perfume are making matters much worse. The vagina is a mucus membrane and is very porous to whatever you put on or in it.
Share your earliest memory of menstruation, do you ever remember feeling embarrassed by the topic? What would you tell your younger self and other young girls who are now starting their period?
My mom has been my lifelong role model, she was so supportive and taught me things like “you wipe front to back to prevent infection,” menstruation is normal, this is healthy, and she was very open and free about it. She even knew when I had sex the first time before I told her, and she made me feel special and accepting of my body, even in masturbation. Everything is over-sexed now, don’t get me wrong sex is a beautiful thing, but not understanding the consequences, like babies, viruses and diseases is so harmful and it’s important to have open communication about it.
To younger girls, I would say to calm down and wait when it comes to sex, there’s so much time.
Take us back to the early days of formulating and creating your washes. What did that look like?
I had tried everything to cure my Bacterial Vaginitis(BV), after trying everything, one night I dreamt with an ancestor and she gave me the recipe. This happened right before I woke up so I wrote it down as soon as I was up. I added some more ingredients of course but that was the beginning. I used more quantities of the ingredients in the formula at first, I’ve dialed them back for the general market. Just like a chef would, not everyone likes a certain type of seasoning, so I’ve had to keep things more neutral.
What are your some of your favorite natural skincare brands? What steps do you take to ensure you are using toxin-free products?
My gift is healing, and I’m good with my hands so I make a lot of my skincare products. I play around with essential oils, CBD oil, shea butter and fractioned coconut oil. I also use Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap, and Honey Pot wash twice a day in the shower. I have very sensitive skin and had issues with eczema issues so I try to use the cleanest products and ingredients that I can. I love Soul Addict products and I’ve been using cbd extract in my skincare products, I recently made a lip balm with it. (*Note: We further discussed the amazing healing properties of CBD/hemp oil, and Beatrice said she would consider incorporating it into future Honey Pot products! As if her products weren’t healing enough already, fingers crossed)!
Working in the wellness industry I’m sure you hear the word “self-care” thrown around a lot. What is your definition of self-care and how do you execute that for yourself?
When I’m eating well and making time to work out, even when all I think about is work, that is self-care. Also, when I’m staying true to myself, and remind myself of what really matters to me. For example, I am beholden to husband, my family and honey pot, day in and day-out. Nothing else. I have my husband and dog, but no children so I love on the Honeypot like a kid. It takes a lot of attention, work and energy. The women I mentor is an aspect of self-care for me too because it gets me out of my business. My self-care isn’t at its peak right now, but I try to pay attention to how I’m treating myself.
Finish the sentence..
I wish every woman was told…
"How powerful their vagina is. It is very the essence of our life. Women should honor and embrace it, don’t feel embarrassed and don’t feel rushed to do shit you don’t want to do. Don’t give it away, cherish it and be respectful of it. The vagina is the means through how we’re even talking now, it’s the gateway."