The Simply Bee Story
Outside & In was thrilled to sit down with the buzzing Helena van der Westhuizen, owner of SA’s much loved brand, Simply Bee, to discover all there is to know about her incredible and 100% natural product range.
Like many success stories, the Simply Bee brand was born out of a necessity. Helena always had highly sensitive skin and battled to find products she could use. SimplyBee was born in her garage during March 2011, when she was experimenting with
all-natural products, trying to find the magic combination of ingredients that her skin would benefit from. Her dad, Derick Hugo, had been a passionate beekeeper since 1954 and what started out as a hobby with only 50 beehives, eventually turned into a very successful beekeeping business. Derick also did an in-depth study on badgers and discovered that it is a myth that badgers destroy bee hives to get to the honey, while in fact they raid bee hives in search of the protein-rich bee larvae. Hence why all the Simply Bee hives are mounted on badger friendly stands.
Helena lived with her family in Portland, Oregon for 15 years and during this time, she researched propolis and everything bee related. Honey is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and is known to assist in new cell growth. Helena was excited and knew she could create something that would work for her skin and something that other people can also benefit from. Fate brought her back to South Africa due to circumstances as her beloved father, Derick, fell ill with cancer. Derick was a wise man with a vision for his beekeeping business and a love for his family. For 2 years, he mentored Pierre van der Westhuizen, and shared all his beekeeping know-how with him. Pierre became Derick’s shadow in the fynbos, amongst the beehives and soon the prodigy became a master beekeeper. Where there are buzzing bees, there is love and Helena and Pierre had known each other from their childhood days. The pair got married and when the time came, they took over the family bee business.
With all her bee research and knowledge, Helena immediately started to mix lotions and potions, containing honey, propolis and beeswax in her garage. Humble beginnings and hard work led to the Simply Bee brand. Simply Bee started off with only 5 products and due to public demand it has expanded it’s range to over 120 products.
Where do you source all of your bee by-products? Where are your current hives located?
At Simply Bee, nothing goes to waste and we make use of everything that our bee colonies are producing in our own hives. We strongly believe in sustainable and responsible beekeeping and do not ever harvest pollen or royal jelly from our hives.
We are very fortunate to have our bee colonies foraging in fynbos-rich areas around Hopefield, in the Western Cape, where there is no commercial farming within the immediate vicinity. Therefore, our honey, beeswax and propolis are all 100% organic. Our bees are not used for commercial pollination either, eliminating the negative effects of exposure to chemicals.
What type of products do you make and what are some of your favourite products for
At our Simply Bee shop in Hopefield, you will get lost between balms, serums, skincare ranges, massage oils, candles, hair products, sun care products, ointments, jars of honey, solid perfumes, baby products, products for your home, men’s products, a complete body care range and we even cater for dogs and cats, with our all-natural pet range. Our Simply Bee summer favourites are the Body Butter, Foot Cream, Heel Balm, and the Simply Bee sun care range that contains Fynbos Propolis. All of our products are also available on our online store at www.simplybee.co.za
Making all natural products is phenomenal, what else makes Simply Bee different to other beauty brands, and what is your brand’s philosophy?
All Simply Bee products are made by hand from start to finish. None of our processes are automated and everything gets done on our premises in Hopefield, by a small, dedicated team of individuals. We design and print all our labels in-house and also pack and ship all our online orders, as well as orders received from our more than 350 stockists countrywide. Myself, Pierre and our daughter, Heidi are actively involved in all the daily operations and get our hands
dirty alongside the team. The Simply Bee footprint is big enough to compete with all the major brands, but we are also small enough to still care about every order that we receive, every customer that walks into our shop and every telephone enquiry.
I am also busy with a great side project. I recently launched another skincare brand, Hugo Apothecary. Hugo Apothecary is named after my maiden name, in honour of my father, Derick Hugo. This luxurious, botanical skincare brand is on a mission to deliver clean and sustainable products that work at the highest standards. We ethically source vegan ingredients from the vibrant intelligence of nature, without any toxins or filler. Each product delivers potent concentrations of plant actives that are known for their nourishing vitamins, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. The Hugo Apothecary skincare range is also available at our Simply Bee shop in Hopefield, as well as online at: www.hugoapothecary.com