In search of a sustainable art medium, visual artist Kara Brook bought a beehive six years ago so she could use beeswax to paint.
She quickly discovered that those same bees could be the source of a sustainable business as well. She started packaging the honey and then expanded into making what she calls “bee-inspired products.”
Today, Brook collects honey from her 18 hives on her 102-acre Kent Island farm to produce home and beauty products, including candles, soaps, exfoliating scrubs and lip balms. She also sells 10 types of honey harvested from her farm and others.
In September, she opened a 2,200-square-foot showroom and manufacturing facility, Honey House, in Owings Mills. The location is open Mondays and Tuesdays only. Brook says most of her sales come from her website, waxingkara.com. She also sells her goods at fundraising events and craft fairs.
Brook recently got a boost from Martha Stewart, who featured Brook’s products on Stewart’s American Made Market, a collection of small-batch producers of artisan goods.
“It’s very helpful to a small business,” Brook says of being part of Stewart’s market. “She’s a media machine.”
Brook says she grossed as much in the first four months of this year as she did all of last year. The challenge for her now is to continue to find new avenues to expand her retail sales.
For now, Brook works alone with occasional help from family and part-time workers at events. She plans to add a couple of new types of body beauty products in the fall and next spring.
Brook continues to use beeswax to paint and considers it her mission to raise awareness of the bee epidemic. Parasites, pesticides and climate change have all threatened the bee population, which has been dwindling.
“Bees are really important to our food chain,” Brook said. “I feel fortunate that I can be part of this movement.”
10989 Red Run Blvd.
Suite 204, Owings Mills