African-American Brenda Palms Barber is the CEO of Sweet Beginnings, a producer of natural honey-based personal care products and premium honey under the brand name, Beelove.
She originally started the company in 2004 as a transitional-jobs program for former offenders. The success of the program spawned the formation of the Beeline brand. The program boasts a 3% recidivism rates versus an average rate of 80+% in most rehabilitation programs.
Her website states that “Sweet Beginnings is a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network and offers full-time transitional jobs for formerly incarcerated individuals and others with significant barriers to employment in a green industry – the production and sales of all-natural skin care products featuring its own urban honey. Sweet Beginnings workers care for the bees and hives, harvest honey, make beelove™ products, package and ship products, track inventory, fill product orders, and sell at retail outlets and special events. These training and work experience modalities transfer to market positions in manufacturing, food service, distribution, warehousing, hospitality, customer service, and more. The recidivism rate for former Sweet Beginnings employees is below 4%, compared to the national average of 65% and the Illinois average of 55%.”
BeeLove products can be found at Whole Foods, and Mark Shale Stores.