Chicago based Sweet Beginnings create a range of honey-based products that they sell locally and across the globe through their online store. Whether they’re producing the sweet treat that is their natural Chicagoland honey or their honey-infused beauty and body care products, the raw material comes directly from local apiaries. What’s remarkable about their businesses isn’t so much the Beelove products they produce, but who produces it. That’s the real story.
Sweet Beginnings is a social enterprise that provides employment opportunities to men and women who have recently been released from prison. As you can imagine, reintegration into society can be difficult and despite serving their time, the legacy of their crime can make employment hard to come by. Sweet Beginnings owner Bob Miller saw this and wanted to do something.
We were introduced to Beelove by Chris Conley from Two Bit Ventures, an organisation that supports social enterprises in Chicago. He’d been working with Bob from Sweet Beginnings who had identified an issue regarding their stock control and distribution. The ideal scenario for Bob and the team was a system that combined their e-commerce, inventory and accounts systems.
Up until that point, the Beelove team relied heavily on Excel spreadsheets and good old fashioned pen and paper to manage their business. While they could get away with this while they were smaller, they knew they needed a system that could grow with their ambition.
After our initial discovery session, we had a clear view of the process they needed to adopt and the system to manage that for them.
We selected DEAR Inventory for a variety of reasons, one of the keys being its ability to flexibly handle Bill of Materials. This was a particular challenge during the project as this process had never been mapped before. It was difficult to translate specific units of measure into relatable quantities, but working together we were able to overcome this.
As a result of the project, they can now track the raw materials, as well as the finished products confidently. This makes the entire packing and shipping process far more streamlined and efficient because they have faith in what the system tells them.
The fact that their accounts, inventory and e-commerce systems are integrated has made a huge difference to the team. It’s allowed them to forecast accurately and manage their stock in a far more efficient way. And that efficiency can help them be more successful which means selling more of their products and ultimately, giving more talented men and women the opportunity to re-enter the workforce and rebuild their lives.