Sacramento Small Business Feature | Honey Bee Bonnets

Headshot of Honey Bee Bonnets owner and children wearing her bonnets

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I want to introduce you to one of Sacramento’s local entrepreneurs, Justine of Honeybee Bonnets.  I spent a fun couple of hours hanging out with her family as they baked banana bread, worked in the garden together and told me about her business.  I’m excited to give you a glimpse into this sweet family’s life and business!

Business Name:  Honeybee Bonnets
Candid portrait of big sister holding her baby sisterJustine’s eldest and youngest daughters.  The baby is wearing one of her beautiful bonnets.

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How did you come up with your business name?
When I was first thinking of starting a bonnet business, the first thing that came to mind was the phrase “There’s a bee in my bonnet.”  My husband and I were talking and he came up with the name Honeybee Bonnets and I immediately fell in love!

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Justine’s husband and their youngest daughter.

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When did you start Honey Bee Bonnets?

I started it in February 2016.

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Children relaxing on the couch as Mama worksThe children having a quiet moment on the couch as Mama sews up those pretty bonnets.

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What inspired you to start Honey Bee Bonnets?
My best friend had just gotten a couple of bonnets and was showing me pictures and I thought to myself, “Wow, that is totally something I could see myself making a business out of.”  Then later at another friend’s house for dinner I was talking to her about my crazy little business idea and she really encouraged me to go for it.  A week later, I had all my licenses and was working on a bonnet pattern.  I have loved sewing for a while and wanted to make money doing it but never figured out what I could make work.  My husband and I want to buy land someday to raise our own animals and to garden on.  We want to live a mostly outdoor lifestyle with our kids.  So the purpose of starting a business in the first place is to help save money towards that goal.

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Honey Bee Bonnets owner and seamstress working on her bonnets
http://www.naomiharrisonphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Spacer.jpgSacramento business owner and seamstress working on her craft
Justine hard at work on her Woodland Collection.
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What makes your business unique?
I am passionate about sustainable living, so I donate $1 of every purchase toward organizations dedicated to saving bees.  In every aspect of my business I try to be conscious of the materials I use and how they affect bees and the environment.  That’s why I choose organic cotton, linen, or vintage and used fabric to make bonnets from.  Even the packaging is either biodegradable or recyclable.
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Mother watering the family's garden with her childrenhttp://www.naomiharrisonphotography.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Spacer.jpgJustine watering the family garden with her children.
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What is your background?  How did you develop the skills needed for your business?
I actually taught myself to sew when I was pregnant with my first just a little over 5 years ago!  My mother-in-law bought me a sewing machine for my husband’s birthday so we could save money by me making clothes for the baby.  And from there I just read blogs and watched videos until I became pretty darn good at sewing.  For the past few years I just used my skills for making gifts for others and everyone would always tell me I needed to sell the things I made.  Now I finally am and I absolutely love my work!
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A pile of beautiful baby and toddler bonnetsA stack of Justine’s gorgeous bonnets!
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What has been your biggest success so far in owning your own business?
I would say my biggest success has been in figuring out all the aspects of the business and making them work together.  It was a pretty brutal reality in the beginning when I realized how much there was to owning a business other than just making the bonnets.  I would get overwhelmed with all the admin stuff that needed to be done.  Now I am much better at prioritizing and managing my time.
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Little girl wearing floral bonnet
Honey Bee Bonnets aren’t just for babies.  Justine’s eldest daughter looks beautiful in this pretty, floral bonnet!
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What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge was when I was pregnant  just 2 1/2 months ago.  It was a much harder pregnancy on me than the others had been and trying to run a business, take care of 3 kids under 5, and taking care of my body was very difficult to manage!  I depended on my husband’s help so much during that time.  But we made it through and now I feel so much better!  Now that the baby is here, I am working out our schedule to make sure the kids get their time with mama and the business gets taken care of too.
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Family gathered around their kitchen table baking banana breadJustine’s husband and children helping with the baking.
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Baby girl content in her daddy's arms
Justine’s sweet baby girl, snuggled up in her daddy’s arms.
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Who or what inspires you and why?
Seeing all the other mama run small shops out there is incredibly inspiring!  I have met so many other shop mamas from around the world and I get to hear their stories about running their shops while also raising amazing kiddos.
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Smiling little girl baking in the kitchenJustine’s sweet eldest daughter.
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Mama baking with her childrenJustine baking with her children.
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Toddler boy playing with chicken eggsJustine’s one-year-old son “helping” with the eggs, haha!
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Describe your typical work day.
My typical work day starts with taking my one-year-old to the bathroom with me while I wipe the eye gunk from my eyes.  Next is breakfast for the kiddos and me as we see my husband off to work.  We clean the house before we have our “school time”, which is going outside to play, going for a hike, or playing together inside.  Afterwards we eat lunch and then the glorious nap time/quiet time. This is when the sewing work begins . . .  I get all the boring admin stuff out of the way first and then cut or sew those lovely bonnets.  When the kids start trickling in, I know it’s time to get dinner made.  Some nights after the kids go to bed, I will cut fabric while my husband and I watch homesteading shows.
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Mother baking bread with her children
Justine teaching her children how to bake.
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Toddler boy with a messy face after licking the batterJustine’s son, adorably messy after licking the batter from the spoon!
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What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own creative business?
Go for it!!  It won’t be easy, but it is an amazing feeling knowing someone likes your work so much they are willing to pay you for it!  Look at other companies who are making it all work and see how they do it.  And Ask questions!  When I started I felt like I knew nothing, so I asked everyone for guidance, advice, and help and I met so many amazing people that way who not only advised, but then supported me and still refer people to me.
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Laughing mama
Justine laughing with her husband.
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Tell us about who you are when you’re not working.
I think you got a glimpse of that in my workday.  I am a mama who loves Jesus and adores her husband.  I give lots of kisses, wipe a lot of noses (and butts), and referee many arguments.  You could call me crunchy, or crazy, whichever you prefer.
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Sacramento family baking and laughing together in the kitchen
Justine and her family baking banana bread together.
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Little girl mixing bread batter with help from her mom
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Closeup of child's hand mixing batter
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Now for some fun questions!
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Favorite food?
A good pink steak or plain cheesecake
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Favorite book?
That’s a hard one!  I love to read, but hardly ever do anymore!  I don’t think I could pick one anymore.
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Favorite TV show or movie?
Alaska: The Last Frontier is my current favorite show.
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Favorite hobbies?
Sewing and hiking
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Favorite part of the day?
The evenings when it’s just me and the hubby.  I love the chaos of the day, which makes the quiet of the evenings even more enjoyable.
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Dream vacation?
Ireland!  I’ve always wanted to since I was a little girl.
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Favorite local business?
Dearest Diapers in Roseville
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Favorite local restaurant?
Mehfil, I love myself some Indian food any day!!
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What is guaranteed to make you smile?
My kids smiling or giggling.  It’s like a drug!!
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Little girl sticking her tongue out
Justine’s delightful middle daughter having a moment of silliness!
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Thank you for having me over for such a fun morning, Justine!  I loved meeting you and photographing your family!
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Headshot of Sacramento business owner
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Do you know of a local entrepreneur or a small business in the Sacramento area that is geared towards children and mothers?  Leave their website in a comment below and maybe they’ll be the next to be featured!

 

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