Iris Cherng started Honey Belle in her kitchen in 2013. Now her products are sold in national retailers such as Urban Outfitters and CVS, as well as local boutiques, including SEED People’s Market in Costa Mesa and Nectar in Orange. “Our mission is to spark fearless self-confidence through simple and intentional self-care rituals,” Cherng says.
Why did you start Honey Belle?
I was (going into my) fourth year at UC Santa Barbara and dealing with life struggles. At the time, I also developed adult psoriasis on my neck and scalp, which hit my self-confidence. At the time, there weren’t a lot of organic products in the market at my price point. My mom, who is a holistic doctor, had started making her own lotions from essential oils and botanicals. I thought, “My mom is making her own stuff, so maybe I can make my own, too.” I started watching YouTube videos and reading Pinterest recipes (for lotions). When I graduated, I wanted to move back home so I could grow my business, but at the same time I was so afraid because I’d never built anything or even had career experience. I got my first full-time job and would come home, clear the kitchen table, and work on Honey Belle till almost midnight every day for a year.
What were the first products?
Toner, lip balms, lotions, facial scrubs. We still have a lot of the same product line from when we started.
Why should people use organic products?
My psoriasis ended up tapering down and became manageable just from using wholesome ingredients. I think that natural ingredients are so much better than processed because you know what’s in it. It’s nature, it’s pure, it’s wholesome, versus something chemically engineered in a lab.
What ingredients do you use?
A lot of organic essential oils and botanicals, including lavender and rose. It’s all-natural, and we’re cruelty-free.
Is Honey Belle eco-friendly?
I definitely want to turn my company completely sustainable. Right now, we do use recycled plastics, but my goal is to stop all our plastics. I want to do refill pods; I just want to change the game.
Tell us about your charity.
The Soaps for Souls project started because I was driving through a homeless area and saw so many families living there. I wanted to help them. During that time, I had just started the company and I had a bunch of soap shavings left over. I realized I could repurpose them and donate (soap). I ended up partnering with a medical organization that travels the world—Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Vietnam—and they bring luggage full of soaps with them to donate.
What advice do you have for people who want to create something similar?
Anyone can do what I’m doing. Anyone can go for it, and I want other people to understand that they don’t have to be stuck doing what they feel like they need to do. The possibilities are just so endless.