Terri Henry: It is not an easy road, but it is a rewarding one
Bees' most popular and delicious substance is sweet, viscous, golden-brown honey. However, these creatures also produce various other items, which Terri Henry of Bee Natural has started introducing to the Dominican public.
"Bee Natural makes wellness products derived from the beehive, mostly using beeswax as the signature ingredient," Terri told The Sun. "Our full range of products is; lip balm, body bath, body butter, deodorant and candles."
This up-and-coming apiarist, owning four beehives, shared that her journey into wellness products resulted from Hurricane Maria.
"I was a massage and nature therapist but couldn't do that after Maria. So it proved a pivotal moment for me," she admitted. "I was looking towards a commodity-based, not service-based, industry. And since I always made natural products for myself, it was an easy choice."
This honey farmer is exploring many other products from the beehive and hopes to present them to the public in due time.
"You can make bee pollen, bee venom, and royal jelly," she said. "So eventually, we will have some products containing those ingredients."
A nature lover, Terri's admiration for bees comes from her keen awareness of their invaluable contribution to Dominica's delicate ecosystem.
"They are interconnected with us as a sustainable island," she added. "They are super essential not just for crops but for wildflowers and maintaining our biodiversity."
Bee Natural was registered as a business in 2018, and Terri describes the past almost five years as quite the experience.
"It has been a learning journey of incremental growth," she said. "We started small, thinking, 'How will you make a living? 'Is it sustainable?' But I always had a vision of how I wanted it to grow and kept going step by step."
Terri has also realised and accepted that "There are a lot of challenges; it's like what challenge do you want to take on today," she laughed. "As a manufacturer, you have a lot of logistical challenges with the importation of products which can be expensive, though we use a lot of local ingredients. So delays can be frustrating for the customer as well. Not to mention as a solo entrepreneur, you wear a lot of hats."
Yet the clients keep Terri committed to the task at hand, ensuring she delivers high-quality products.
"When customers message me and give feedback, like 'this lip balm works', 'this product cleared my eczema', etc., the genuine feedback I get on how much people love the product is super rewarding," she said. "I also love the benefit of working in nature with bees and other beekeepers."
Another highlight of her career was winning the Caribbean MicroPitch Competition this year.
"We got the award for Sustainable Entrepreneurship in the OECS," she said. "That is looking at how we can make our packaging even more eco-friendly and sustainable. One of our key focus areas is finding ways to minimise waste and how our products can contribute to a circular economy."
Contributing more to national development and exporting more products are also on the cards for a future that already looks bright and promising in Terri's eyes.
This honey farmer, who is also President of the Dominica Health and Wellness Association (DHWA), Vice President of the Dominica Herbal Business Association (DHBA), and a member of the executive of the Dominica Manufacturers' Association (DMA), advises others contemplating the world of entrepreneurship to be prepared.
"I would say really have a focus, it is not an easy road, but it is a rewarding road," Terri said. "You have to be determined, passionate, and stubborn. So many people will say it will not work or is not good enough. And while it is good to take advice, it is also good to be steadfast in your vision: know what you are about and be prepared to work for it."
Henry also encourages entrepreneurs to get involved in various groups, organisations, and associations that benefit them and improve their entrepreneurial experience.