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Beehives for the Holidays, Small Business Success

Now one might question the gifting of beehives as a holiday gift, but Jessica Wehr could not have been happier with the two beehives she received from her spouse in 2010.  In fact, beekeeping had been an interest she had wanted to pursue for some time.  Over the course of the next few years Wehr would not only become a successful beekeeper, exponentially growing her two beehives into hundreds, but she made her beloved hobby into a successful small business:  Wehrloom Honey. 

By 2013, Wehr had started selling honey-based products at farmers’ markets throughout western North Carolina.  Candles, skin care products, and of course, honey made up her first product line.  Traveling to the markets whenever she could, Wehrloom Honey quickly gained popularity and the demand for the honey-based products increased immensely. 

Having achieved a level of unanticipated success and acknowledging her sense to continue diversifying her product line, Wehr began to experience growing pains.  Her first solution was to expand her operation into a brick and mortar location in Robbinsville, North Carolina.  Next, realizing that Robbinsville is an economically depressed area with a small population, she sought out new methods to expand her customer base. 

In 2015, Wehr was introduced to SBA resource partner Mountain BizWorks by members of her local chamber of commerce.  There, she was able to take several business classes, join a business mentor program, and apply for an SBA community advantage loan.  This was just the assistance Wehrloom Honey needed to advance into a new component of business. 

Mead, or honey wine, is an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water.  It can also be mixed with fruits, spices, grain, or hops to create a plethora of flavors.  Putting the $50,000 SBA community advantage loan to good use, Wehr purchased distillery equipment to create the Wehrloom Honey Meadery.  The remaining funds were used to add-on a taproom and seating area to the back of the store. 

“I am grateful for the opportunities SBA provides,” said Wehr. “Without them businesses like ours would not be possible.  We must keep supporting these types of programs as they are critical to entrepreneurship.” 

With the meadery up and running, Wehr hopes to expand the business to a second physical location, increase production, and continue finding new and creative ways to market and distribute her products.