When Georgine Mann was expecting her youngest son Jesse, she decided she wanted to raise him herself and not return to her credit union job. Georgine and husband John decided to buy her uncle’s apiary business so she could be a stay-at-home mother.
“We started making Honey Brand Honey Pumpkin Muffins to sell at craft sales and then farmers’ markets as a way to promote baking with honey, and from there it snowballed. People either don’t have the time, desire or knowledge to bake. I was receiving different requests and they loved the idea of having products made with honey. We began by taking honey and baking to a few craft sales then started taking part in the Riverbank Discovery Centre market in Brandon.
“For a year I was contemplating opening a business but unsure whether I was ready to make the huge commitment. The building we wanted in Rivers was coming up for tax sale and I thought maybe this was a sign to get moving with the idea. After a call to Crocus Credit Union within two weeks we had the building, business plan, appraisal, and financial statements. The building needed a lot of work before we could open but design plans had to be done and passed by Manitoba Public Health before we could start. We did most of the renovations ourselves and hired professionals for the work requiring permits. The Honey House Bakery and Café opened on June 19, 2014,” said Mann.
Georgine and her son Brett drive in from their country home to start baking at 4:30 a.m. John comes in to help as needed, between running the apiary and driving a school bus. Son Dannie, a town constable, helps out when they’re really busy as well as 10-year-old Jesse.
“Currently I have seven or eight part-time employees. I have high standards and expect the same from my staff; it has been interesting trying to find that fine line between letting certain things go and not others. The biggest challenge — hands down — of starting a new business is definitely staffing,” said Mann.
The Manns decided not to put in a grill so burgers and fries are oven roasted, and their menu also includes soup, sandwiches, wraps, salads and breakfast items.
“I shopped around for a coffee supplier and ended up choosing Forbidden Flavours. The beans are roasted just outside Brandon and owner Ryan Jacobson has been amazing to work with. We carry the full line of their coffees and specialty drinks/coffees and are bringing in coffee beans to retail to the public in the very near future,” said Mann.
“The most rewarding part of the business is the enjoyment my customers get from the service we provide. My advice to anyone wanting to start a business is to start small and realize there will be good days and bad days. Know your customer base. If something is not working, change it, and most importantly — customer service. Always have a smile for your customers,” said Mann.