Sometimes, success can be the product of adversity every bit as much as it can be of innovation. This has perhaps never been better demonstrated than through the desperate efforts of New Jersey couple Summer and Kam Johnson, who had noticed a deterioration in their son’s health following their relocation to a farm setting.
Young Zach was already an asthma sufferer, but the foliage surrounding the farm was making his condition worse. Friends suggested raw honey as a possible solution.
Whilst honey is freely available in more or less any food store, their own situation made the concerned parents acutely aware that there was a whole lot of difference between the processed product which is commonly available and natural, unprocessed, raw honey.
Having seen the positive effect that the latter was having on their son’s health, the Johnsons decided to launch a business venture which they named after Zach and his sister Zoe. Thus the Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm was born.
Working out of their Hunterdon County farm, they began to keep bees in order to produce the natural honey which had provided such a successful mitigation to their son’s asthma and seasonal allergies.
They manufactured raw honey in a whole range of flavors including raspberry, blueberry, lemon, ginger root and beetroot.
But the project needed serious investment, and so the enterprising parents decided to make their pitch to the serious investors on Shark Tank.
Six years after the company was first created, they secured $150k in exchange for 15% equity.
At a Glance
Kam and Summer appeared on Shark Tank Season 13 Episode 7 with their children, Zoe and asthma and allergy sufferer Zach. They explained the history behind their enterprise, and how they’d developed the business after realizing the positive benefits that unprocessed honey had brought to their son’s health.
They were offering 10% equity in their company Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm for a sought investment of $150,000. Whilst all the Sharks warmed to them, not all of them wanted to invest in the product and the family business, Barbara Corcoran however made an offer of $200,000 in return for a 20% share.
After Kevin O’Leary had become involved in the trading the family felt emboldened enough to ask Barbara for, and obtain, $200k for a 15% stake in their company.
Who are the Founders?
Kam and Summer Johnson were clearly enterprising people; this much was evident from their personable, and yet demonstrably capable personas when appearing on Shark Tank.
They arrived on the show with their children, all of them dressed adorably in yellow as if in an act of solidarity with their exciting product.
And yet nevertheless it was the unanticipated misfortune of young son Zach which acted as the spur for their enterprising zeal.
It was the worsening of his asthma, brought on by the family’s move to a New Jersey farm, and his subsequent improvement after being treated with real honey, which led to their discovery of its healing qualities.
It was Zach and his sister Zoe, both of whom actively helped to win over the investors on the show, who lent their names to the Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm.
Did Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm Get a Deal on the Show?
Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm did achieve a deal on Shark Tank. Barbara Corcoran invested $200,000 in return for 15% equity in the company after having originally asked for a 20% share.
Rival Shark Kevin O’Leary had mooted an alternative option wherein he would receive a $1 royalty for every jar sold up to $150k, dropping to $0.25 thereafter, but the family preferred Barbara’s approach.
Meanwhile Daniel Lubetzky dropped out as he felt uncomfortable intruding upon a family business, whilst Mark Cuban felt the family might not appreciate the complexity of what it was they were getting into.
What Happened to the Entrepreneurs After the Show?
Even before the show, the company’s products had been available at Macy’s, and the Bloomingdale department stores chain. It had grown from $62,000 in sales in 2018 to just over $400,000 in 2020.
During the pandemic, it had had to pivot to a largely online operation, a handicap which it had successfully negotiated.
With product profit margins of 23% and the asked-for investment having been secured, following the show the only way was up.
Zach and Zoe honey and other associated products can now be purchased from at least 109 outlets around the US, including Chelsea Market and Target, and online from Amazon.
About the Product
Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm products center around making raw honey using entirely natural methods and without any pesticides, wax, sugars or additives mixed in with it. The product has the added advantage of enjoying a very long shelf life.
Flavors available include Beetroot, Ginger, Lemon, Raspberry, Blueberry, Wildflower, Truffle, Buckwheat and Lavender. The product retails for a little under $24.
What is perhaps most important is that theirs is a product which the family at the heart of the enterprise actually believes passionately in.
Remember, it was only the necessity brought about by the worsening of Zach’s condition which led Kam and Summer into the business in the first place.
It is because, as parents, they feel they have reason to truly believe in the thing they are selling which has led them to the place they are at today.
Of course, to produce so much honey the family had at first to become beekeepers. The honey they sell is made either at source or purchased from other keepers in the local area.
Like most growing businesses, Zach and Zoe have been able to branch out into other, associated markets. As well as honey the company also manufactures beeswax candles.
Its net worth is presently estimated to be in the region of $2 million.
Some Interesting Facts
Honey is a richly concentrated mixture of two natural sugars – fructose and glucose. Its saturated nature means some of the sugar automatically lifts out from the mixture and directly affects the texture of the product.
It does not require refrigeration as cold temperatures cause the product to harden. Ideally, it should be stored at room temperature, in a cupboard, or on a shelf.
Zach and Zoe Sweet Bee Farm is headquartered in Lebanon, New Jersey. It was in New Jersey, of course, that the enterprise began on the family farm.
The two siblings who were the inspiration for the company name are actually allergic to bees, but nevertheless developed in interest in them when on holiday together in Israel.