How keeping bees led Carly to setting up a full-time business



As the Small Business Saturday campaign prepares to mark its ten-year anniversary on December 3, SME Magazine is profiling some of the 100 small businesses in this year’s SmallBiz100 line-up.  As Michelle Ovens CBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK, says: “The fantastic small businesses featured in this year’s SmallBiz100 sum up the extraordinary contribution that small firms make to our economy and local areas.”






Carly Hooper, above, introduces us to skincare company Beeutiful

I am a beekeeper handmaking natural skincare utilising beeswax and honey. I produce body butters and balms rather than cream because oil based products do not contain water and therefore do not require a preservative which can often cause problems for those with sensitive skin. All products are made in small batches and then labelled by hand. Bees are at the heart of Beeutiful, I run 15 colonies, am on the committee of my local Beekeeping Association and am their Training Manager, aiding others to begin their beekeeping journey. I make a donation to the British Beekeeping Association to aid their research into the decline of the honey bee.

When did you set the company up and what was the thinking behind it? 

I began keeping bees as a hobby in 2012. At the time I was marking essays for a university part time as I had given up my career when my first born was diagnosed as disabled. Realising how fascinated I was becoming with honey bees and the products they produce I started thinking about what else I could do within my beekeeping. I’d always tried to live relatively “green” and to use natural products. Having read about the use of honey on wounds during the first world war I decided to make a balm for my hands that get really dry and sore in the winter. My youngest then had a flare of eczema so I tried the same balm on him and within three days his eczema had cleared. I then decided to try making lip balm and after some trial and error developed three flavours which friends loved.

With encouragement from them and my husband I decided to take this “playing in the kitchen” to the next level, adding body butter and soap to my range which I then officially launched in November 2013. With my youngest in pre-school I was looking for more than the essays I was marking but needed the flexibility to be their for my boys before and after school as well as attend my eldest’s various hospital and medical appointments. Launching Beeutiful gave me all that.

What products do you produce? 

I make natural balms and butters all based on beeswax and honey.

What do you enjoy the most about being your own boss? 

The flexibility to come and go as I please. I can attend sports day, medical appointments, be home when my boys need me to be. I also thrive on a challenge, the juggle of family and work and definitely love being customer facing.

What advice would you give someone thinking about setting up their own business? 

Take your time. I definitely got over excited and rushed my launch. I don’t feel this was detrimental but I did put myself under a lot of undue pressure as I had a date in mind and refused to move this! Be prepared to work hard and be prepared to justify why you work so hard to others. I am frequently told you’re not answerable to anyone so take the day off. Not true, I am answerable to myself and if I don’t do it, it won’t get done! You need to be disciplined and motivated.

What do you think about Small Business Saturday and how does it help you?

A fabulous concept, highlighting how many small businesses there are and how hard they work. It helps by being supportive both from the team themselves and the community that has been created. Events as well as education are great. In employment you’re sent on training, you can speak with colleagues about ideas, problems etc. As a small business this is lacking but Small Business Saturday provides this and more.

Sum up your business in three words. 

Natural, Bees, Caring