Developing a Kingdom Centered Startup: An Interview with Chloe Warren
Chloe Warren, 18, is the founder of Sweet Bee Sisters, an all-natural skincare business based around beeswax, along with her two sisters, Lily and Sophie. Warren’s family started beekeeping in Littleton, Colorado in 2009 and realized that while their new hive didn’t harvest copious amounts of honey, there was an excess of beeswax – which is seven times more labor-intensive for bees to produce. In an attempt to reduce the waste from their hive, they made a small batch of peppermint lip balms and sold them at a Christmas craft show for kids. It was an instant hit, and Sweet Bee Sisters was created 11 years ago when Chloe was 7, Lily was 9, and Sophie was just 5 years old.
Chloe and her family are strong advocates for the bee population. It is fundamental to their company to be beneficial to the environment and for people. By truly understanding how bees function in their hives, the sisters are able to sustainably care for all of the bees that produce their beeswax. There is a delicate balance between what you can take from a hive to keep the bees healthy and happy. Sweet Bee understands this fully and uses their knowledge of beekeeping to utilize themselves as a resource for safe harvesting practices and continues to provide a positive message for the life and health of bees in their area. Without the bees, the backbone of their entire company, the world would lose an entire third of harvestable crops. Sweet Bee considers the bee’s health to be the most sustainable part of what makes up Sweet Bee Sisters.
While Chloe and her family didn’t create a written set of values for their business when beginning their startup, they have fostered a mutual understanding that running a business was never allowed to get in the way of family relationships. She credits her parents for consistently supporting them and equipping her and her sisters with the tools they needed to run a successful business for over half of their lives. While some feel the calling toward entrepreneurship naturally, Chloe has had to work hard to develop a business-minded spirit. Even still, this does not hinder her in dedicating her time and energy toward growth for her company and herself.
“Entrepreneurship can be learned and instilled in people, as long as they are dedicated to being problem solvers and go-getters.”
Chloe chases her startup backed by confidence from the Lord. When times get tough and she feels like giving up, Chloe has felt God pulling her back and reassuring her this is exactly where she needs to be in this season of her life. Obedience in His will has given her the confidence when she feels like she has none to be flexible with her plans, knowing that “the seasons will change...but for now I am obedient and I listen to His plans for me.”
Being such a young entrepreneur hasn’t always been the easiest for Chloe and her sisters. Starting a business when Chloe was only seven has possessed challenges in gaining the respect and understanding of more mature business owners. Many people did not take a group of children seriously and did not believe they were responsible enough to manage finances and order fulfillment. However, Chloe has stood firmly on her dream and the mission behind Sweet Bee Sisters, saying,
“Our ages have never stopped us from going out and doing what we love – age is just a number. We take criticism and fix our mistakes, but we don’t let it get in the way. My advice to anyone facing challenges is to stick it out because it will get better! The hardships we went through have brought us to where we are today.”
Through all of the hardship of young teens running a business, Sweet Bee has been able to spread the kingdom of God through a variety of avenues. Oftentimes women in underdeveloped countries lack the opportunity and resources it takes to accomplish their dreams, and they are unable to bring their dreams to life. Warren and her family decided it would be a perfect way to help others in their entrepreneurial journeys by providing microfinance loans to struggling mothers in Uganda and Kenya. Chloe has used her small business to not only provide financial support to impoverished women but encourage and empower them to live their lives in pursuit of Christ.
When Sweet Bee Sisters saw a recent spike in their growth, their hives couldn’t safely keep up with the demand for bee byproducts. They began outsourcing a portion of beeswax from a small fair trade family-owned farm in Zambia, Africa. They partner with a family in Wyoming who visits regularly to Zambia to work with the farmers and bring it back stateside. The Zambian farmers are able to secure fair wages and Sweet Bee Sisters is able to use quality products as well as support other local family-oriented establishments. Outsourcing has provided farmers with work in an area that has much less of a market for organic beeswax.
Since 2009, Sweet Bee Sisters has expanded its product line to add many scents and flavors to all of their products. They have accrued a variety of companies like Denver University, Snooze an AM Eatery, and Westmont College to private label their goods. As well as lip balms, Sweet Bee makes lotion bars, scrubs, and deodorant sprays.
Many entrepreneurs accept risk and go all in, lacking a clear depiction of how it will all work out. The Warren sisters never thought their business would have lasted this long or grow to such a large scale. Beginning Sweet Bee Sisters in 2009 as a simple family learning opportunity has blossomed into a beautiful picture of entrepreneurship despite the hurdles of age and has grown into a sustainable venture impacting youth and families globally.
As for the future of Sweet Bee Sisters, Warren is developing a youth empowerment tool called Sweet Bee Sisterhood, where girls aged 8-16 can get real-world experience on what it’s like to manage a company. The Sisterhood provides young entrepreneurs empowerment to feel like they can go chase their dreams. As a companion to this, Sweet Bee is working towards creating training videos for young people to gain tangible skills for selling and producing products. The sisters want to continue to work with kids on devising and developing their own startup businesses. Chloe is an upcoming student on Global U’s 2020/2021 Bravo Class, and plans to keep expanding her company while experiencing a year in kingdom based community.
“Kids have the most outrageous ideas. Getting to see them be able to put their ideas down into something and selling it shows such creativity and entrepreneurship within these young people. That’s where we want the future of Sweet Bee Sisters to head.”
To learn more about Chloe’s heart behind Sweet Bee Sisters, visit https://www.sweetbeesisters.com