Meet Boston's honey entrepreneur
Deborah Leipziger | 11/4/2015, 1:49 p.m.
Ivy Lawson is a force of nature. With her boundless energy and passion, she has created a business called Logwood Co. that brings Jamaican honey to New England. Known as the “Bee Lady”, Lawson’s line of honey — ivyee’s Honey — can be found in Whole Foods and specialty shops throughout New England. Her company also sells a ginger-infused floral honey, Logwood honey, and a hibiscus and sorrel honey.
From engineer to entrepreneur
Trained as an engineer at Tufts, Lawson went on to have a successful career at IBM. But she knew she wanted to open her own business, and was unsure what direction it would take. She sold her house and began to downsize. As she was cleaning out her office, in one of those odd happenstances that often lead to life-altering moments, Lawson came across the business card of someone she had met seven years earlier. He had offered to coach her when she was ready to open her own business.
She called him.
“Remember me, the Jamaican skier?”
On the Web
Ivyee’s honey is available throughout New England in Whole Foods and in gourmet shops. Ivy Lawson sells her products in Randolph, MA at 500 North Main Street.
For more information, visit http://logwoodcompany.com
And of course he remembered her. He had been getting calls from a group of Jamaican bee farmers who had formed an association. Was she interested?
At that time, Lawson knew very little about honey. She tried some name brand U.S. honey and found the taste somewhat unconvincing. But she was intrigued at the prospect of going back to the land of her parents and grandparents.
One week later, she boarded a plane for Jamaica and got her first taste of Jamaican honey. She was hooked. In Jamaica, Lawson learned a family secret: Her grandfather had been a beekeeper. Over the next several months, she returned to Jamaica repeatedly, always learning more and assessing the potential for a viable business.
Taking the plunge
In 2008, she moved with her two youngest children to Jamaica. This was a brave step for this native of Boston. She had never lived in the Caribbean so it took time to get used to the slow pace, the blaring horns and driving on the opposite side of the road.
The beginning was rough for the start-up.
With a $25,000 loan she started her company Logwood Company, LLC.
Lawson moved back to the U.S. in 2010, and by 2011, Whole Foods was carrying ivyee’s Honey. This year is the first year in which the company will become profitable. (It took Ben and Jerry’s seven years.) A team of 20 workers supports the venture.
Jamaican honey is unique. It is derived from bees that pollinate tropical flowers, giving it a very different taste from the clover honey sold in the U.S. Jamaican soil is bauxite rich, giving it many more minerals than most soil. In addition to its Caribbean origins, ivyee’s Honey is raw and organic. Lawson produces her honey without straining, filtering or boiling.
To understand the production of raw honey it’s useful to understand pollination. Bees find blossoms from mango, coconut, papaya, tropical berries, logwood and hibiscus plants, and the nutrients from the blossoms are transferred to the pollen.
Lawson loves to tinker with products. A few years back she tried her hand at developing honey-based health and beauty products. She began by mixing honey, bergamot, and tea tree oils to help with a relative’s acne. The result is a product that flies off her shelf because it is so popular.