by Ashlyn Verda, staff writer & videographer
Cassidy Smith, a 23-year-old Nicholls alumnus, created Mon Cher Honey— mon cher being French for “my dear”— in 2018. What began as an assignment for a college course and a favor for a friend, became a passion project for Smith as the sole owner and operator of the business.
“I started off with 60 jars of honey and was completely surprised when they sold out within four or five days,” Smith says.
Mon Cher honey is locally harvested and distributed in and around the bayou region of Louisiana. She strains and fills fresh orders of hand-jarred honey from her kitchen table. Mon Cher Honey is certified organic by the United States Department of Agriculture.
According to the USDA’s latest agricultural census, “United States honey production in 2017, from producers with less than five colonies, totaled almost 600 thousand pounds, down 22 percent from 2016.” The research shows that only 50 colonies exist in Louisiana. The colonies produced 4,300 pounds of honey, totalling $8,342 in 2017. Smith has already produced about 300 pounds this year.
Each hive is removed and relocated by Daniel Achee, who goes by the name Dan the Bee Man. Dan removes bees from the New Orleans, Houma, Thibodaux, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette areas.
Dan the Bee Man first contacted Smith with a five gallon bucket of honey he acquired from a bee hive extraction. Ever since starting his business, he wanted to package and sell the honey himself but did not have the time. Since Smith was not working while completing her last semester at Nicholls, she accepted the offer to help Dan.
After Smith focused on the project for almost two weeks and researched all things honey, Mon Cher Honey was born. She had full control over the design, marketing outlines, social media strategies, and other professional collaborations.
After several trial runs to find the perfect jar for scooping honey, Smith found an American-made jar that is eco-friendly and recyclable. Every 16 oz. jar of Mon Cher honey comes with an information card about honey.
“With the purchase of Mon Cher’s local honey, you are saving bees and spreading awareness about endangerment,” Smith says. “We pride ourselves on making sure our customers and our hives are happy. We are always encouraging members of the community to buy local.”
Smith says consuming local, raw honey is better than any store bought honey because processed honey loses important enzymes and antioxidants that make it so nutritious.
Starting Mon Cher Honey has taught Smith to appreciate local businesses. Smith says the support from small businesses in the community has helped Mon Cher Honey take off.
Many local businesses now stock Mon Cher Honey. You can find the jars and T-shirts designed by Smith at Lynn’s Interiors, Ship-N-Geaux, and Weeping Willow Cafe and Bakery in Thibodaux. Smith found her most surprising success at Weeping Willow, where her honey sold out in just two business hours. She received an email the next morning requesting 10 more jars. Smith has even been contacted by markets in New Orleans and Houma looking to charry Mon Cher Honey in the future.
One of the biggest challenges Smith has faced as a young business owner is making investments in herself, as well as in the company.
“Trusting your instincts is hard and I am constantly learning from my mistakes. Trial and error can be tough, especially knowing I can’t get my time, effort, and money back,” says Smith.
Looking forward, Smith plans to move to Austin, TX, in June, where she will continue working as a public relations professional. Smith’s goal is to have the business running smoothly for Dan when he eventually takes over. The pair have discussed hiring a Nicholls Mass Communication intern to help Dan.
Damon Smith, Cassidy’s father, says he’s just proud to see his daughter put her passion and education to use.
“Cassidy’s determination and drive from an early age let us know that she won’t settle for anything that is just average. She wants to be the best at what she does and will be successful at whatever she puts her mind into.”