The Blue Ridge Bee Company (BRBC) opened for business as our neighbors in the Mercer Street Grassroots district and quickly became one of the most unique and charming destinations in the area. Owners William and Emily became interested in beekeeping when they learned about the massive die-offs of honey bees around the world. After much studying, they started their honey operation in 2014. Each year, the company has grown and expanded.
By far, our favorite element about working with BRBC was the location; after many months of preparation and renovation, Will has created an incredible store font, rich with colors and textures. Besides the seemingly endless varieties of honey and beekeeping supplies, the interior of the store is filled with locally sourced products like goat-milk soaps, jewelry, wood working, and hydroponic produce.
A Grassroots Solution to an International Crisis
When Will and Emily heard of the mass honey bee die-off, they knew they had to get involved in saving this valuable creature and began keeping bees. One of their main concerns was finding ways to mitigate the harmful effects of the Varroa destructor mite, one of the greatest threats to honey bees. At first, they tried using harsh chemicals to treat in the spring and fall, but knew there had to be something better. Oxalic acid vaporization caught their attention when many European beekeepers said that it was hard on mites but easy on brood and bees. However, the vaporizers were very expensive, but the pair were confident they could engineer a less expensive but comparable product and decided to make their own. That’s how Will and Emily designed the best selling vaporizer on Ebay and took the first step in launching their own business aimed at helping others take up this rewarding pursuit. With the help of a Technical Assistance Grant from the WV Hive, BRBC partnered up with us at Starry Eyes and we began helping them further their meteoric rise.
Beekeeping for the Masses
The great success for the opening of the Blue Ridge Bee Company prompted a search for ways to sell their honey and beekeeping supplies to more people around the country. That’s when Will Lambert contacted Starry Eyes about designing a website and catalog designed to do just that.
We set about designing a unique catalog that would mesh with BRBC’s preexisting branding and the stunning design of their store while creating a streamlined display that would show off the products to potential customers.
Building a Hive
One of the most enjoyable parts of this photography project was creating this hive stack graphic. We captured photos as we disassembled a hive piece by piece, carefully ensuring neither the hive or the camera moved out of alignment. After the photography was completed, we cut out each individual piece of the hive and arranged them floating on top of the other to demonstrate how the hive is constructed and how each piece fits together. The finished graphic is an important part of the product catalog full of the supplies and hive kits that BRBC offers.
A Site Sweeter than Honey
Starry Eyes got to know the BRBC store and their product offerings extremely well as we photographed dozens of their bottles of honey and beekeeping supplies, hives, tools, and the store’s interior in preparation for the web design work. These photos became the foundation of their website and its dynamic e-commerce system selling products to customers around the country.
One of the biggest challenges with this project was the need to organize and categorize BRBC’s array of products. Without in-depth levels of categorization and sub-categorization, online customers wouldn’t be able to easily find the items for which they’re looking. Not only that, but without thorough categorization, the customers might not be introduced to similar products they didn’t know they need! We enjoyed sorting all the info into a spreadsheet to better organize the product data.
Technical Assistance Request
The WV Hive is an initiative of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority whose mission is to connect entrepreneurs with the resources and expertise they need to grow successful companies right here in the Mountain State. Will and Emily selected Starry Eyes Media as their preferred marketing vendor in partnership with the WV Hive.