Emily Abbott is the founder and managing director of Hive and Keeper.
A research director in customer loyalty for years, Emily decided to follow her passion for beekeeping and launched her business of limited edition raw British honeys in April 2017, hoping to keep British apiaries and local beekeeping alive. Emily is now fully dedicated to Hive & Keeper and occasionally freelances in market research.
Prior to Hive & Keeper, Emily co-ran Kate & Emily, starred in the ‘Single mums SOS with Kate & Emily’ series on Discovery Home and Health, and published ‘Kate & Emily’s Guide to Single Parenting’.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I worked in market research, specialising in customer and media research for over 20 years. I left the industry and my team behind earlier this year, looking for change and new adventure with Hive & Keeper; the business I’d set up 2 years earlier that grew out of my beekeeping hobby. Nine months on I’m the proud promotor of small scale British beekeepers and their bees. Every honey is totally unique and a snapshot in time of the weather, flowers and the bees’ needs when the worker bees collected the nectar to make the honey. I have over 40 of these unique honeys and love introducing people to the wide range of British honey tastes, textures and colours.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No! I’m not sure that’s a bad thing though as it’s meant that my radar has been on for opportunities and having a go, which might not have happened if I had a plan. The best example is saying yes to one of my friends who had a great idea for a single parent network which promised new experiences and fun. We ended up on TV, with a book and working with the Government – all the while I kept my market research hand in with freelancing. Not a career plan, but a fabulous life adventure that gave me the confidence to embrace this one with Hive & Keeper!
Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?
Looking back the biggest challenges were probably managing to be a mum whilst working within a client driven, fast moving business. The way I resolved it was to become self employed, so I could work from home with the flexibility to work at any time of day or night that the children allowed to meet client deadlines. I did it for about 10 years before I became an employee again, got a job title and joined in office politics!
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?
Every good boss is a mentor – I’ve only ever had one at the start of my career and I owe her so much as she taught me not only how to do my job, but also how she did hers and what it took to run a successful business from financial acumen to good leadership. I felt like her partner and still use what she taught me and it’s how I’ve tried to be with people who’ve worked for me.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Know that you’re unlikely to be the highest paid amongst your peers. Tell your boss what you’re worth to the business, and ask for the pay rise. Don’t assume that your boss will award you one when they can. Or if they do, that it’ll reflect your worth or colleagues’.
Do you have any advice or tips for women looking to become entrepreneurs?
Just Do It – it’s like deciding to have children, there’s never going to be a perfect time. The worst that happens is that it doesn’t take off and you go back to ‘proper’ work
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I’m very proud of myself for having an idea and seeing it through with Hive & Keeper. Everyone has good ideas and dreams of things they’ll do and none of our ideas are unique, it’s just that hardly any us actually do it. It’s what I remind myself of on my down days!
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
I’m ready to move from start up to established. It’s time to stop saying ‘I’ve recently set up’ or ‘I’m learning’. It’s been nearly 3 years and I’ve learnt enough now to go up a level.