Credit: Frank Fortune

This is part of a continuing series about the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market behind Visit Statesboro! and the vendors who can be found there. H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey has a presence at the market, as well as a brick and mortar location and an e-commerce component.

The Queen Bee of H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey

Laura Franklin Cooke is the queen bee of H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey.

In fact, she has quite often been seen at a vendor table at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market. But she has a buzzing hive of her own away from the busy market.

Laura cares for her daughters, Avis, 12, and Lily, 9, while also being the CEO of a corporation.  

In fact, family is emphasized in her business under her leadership as the “matriarch-bee”. H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey mentions being a family/woman-owned business in their promotional material, and Laura has affirmed this. In addition, Laura’s maiden name is Franklin, but she did not inherit the business. Instead, she bought it.

The business was started by Laura’s brother, not her father. Almost a decade ago, Laura purchased the business. She did not inherit it from her brother, who is still very much alive and engaged in his own activities.

Laura said, “H. L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey was first started in 2011 by my brother Lehman Franklin III. I purchased the honey company from him in 2013 when he started working with another family business with our Uncle Robbie Franklin – Franklin Chevrolet and Franklin Toyota. Lehman is now the General Manager of Franklin Toyota and the soon to be new State Representative for the Georgia House of Representatives, District 160.”

(Photo Courtesy: H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey)

Laura said, “We have a honey office which is our production office at 127 North Main Street, Suite 101, and people often stop in to restock their honey supplies.”

“However, if we have an out of town event or if we are all out delivering honey, etc., no one may be available to help a walk-in customer. Therefore, it’s always better to order online through our website and choose local complimentary delivery or pickup or call our 800 number to schedule a honey tasting or pick up in advance,” Laura added.

A “bee-dacious” bio and a marketing career far beyond the market

Laura is local but has had a marketing career that has spanned the globe. In fact, she has utilized this vast experience to further grow the honey business.  

“I am from Statesboro Georgia originally, but moved to Manhattan right after college to work in the art world at the time. I then moved into Marketing for Estee Lauder International and on to Kiehl’s. After almost 10 years, I left Kiehl’s to start my own consulting company, LF&CO, and worked with several international and domestic clients for the next 10 years,” she said.

In 1991, Laura was an assistant to the president of Dean & Deluca, a luxury food products company housed in New York and stayed with them for more than four years. She then moved on to Estee Lauder International as an administrative assistant to the Executive Director and was eventually promoted to interim manager (having received multiple promotions). She also stayed there a little more than four years.

Eventually, she was introduced to the skincare line at Kiehl’s. She was Director of Public Relations and Communications for the business, managed a substantial promotional budget for them, and hobnobbed with Hollywood celebrities. During that time, she gained the celebrities’ endorsements for various skincare products.

Next, Laura became a partner with The Alchemy Group, a marketing business, while still working as a consultant for Kiehl’s.

Laura said, “My husband B [a nickname his parents gave him as a baby] and our oldest daughter Avis (12 years old now) moved to Georgia in 2012.”

“I used Statesboro as a home base for my marketing company and traveled back and forth between New York and L.A. and Georgia for all of my clients. I then purchased the honey company from my brother in 2013 and have been building it ever since,” she added.

Laura next said, “We now have another daughter Lily (9 years old), and both of my girls help me often in the honey office or at various events selling honey.”

Honey straws (Photo Courtesy: H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey)

Healthy Honey offers a pure, raw product and more

Laura and her daughters (when they assist her at the market or elsewhere) offer honeys that are pure, raw, and unfiltered. In addition, their honeys and other products are also made in the U.S.A.

They offer eight traditional honey types to their customers in addition to award winning creamed honeys, honeycomb, honey straws, and honey gift boxes. They make their creamed honeys in small batches in-house by hand. Their fresh honeycomb is also hand cut in-house.

Also, they don’t add or infuse any flavors into their traditional honeys and only use organic ingredients in their creamed honeys. Their honeys are harvested from various floral sources growing in the Southeast, and they name their traditional honeys after the flowers the bees use to pollinate.

And though it is the highlight of their business name, they do not just sell honey.

“We sell 8 different floral varieties of honey, three different creamed honeys, honeycomb, honey gift boxes (custom and corporate), honeycomb and bee designed jewelry, wooden honey wands, honey spoons, and cute little felt bee magnets — in pairs of two because they are friends,” Laura said.

She added, “Basically, we sell anything honey or bee related that we find and love so we can share with others.”

Customers abuzz about new craft additions to the honey table

Laura’s daughters have been adding their own flair to the business.

Laura said, “Yes, both of my girls like helping with all areas of the honey business and have shown early signs of having their own entrepreneurial spirit. Avis taught herself to crochet from a YouTube video and has been recently making pumpkins to sell at the Farmers Market.”

Laura Franklin Cooke’s daughter, Avis (LEFT), is holding one of the pumpkins she crochets and sells alongside her mother (RIGHT) at the H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey vendor table at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market. Laura Cooke is holding a jar of their honey. (Photo: Ron Baxley, Jr.)

She said that both of her daughters are super artistic and crafty and noted that they often hand make their gifts for Christmas and birthday presents.

First, Avis has taken custom orders for various sizes and colors for her pumpkins. She has then made them in the traditional orange, pink, green, white and cream. But she can make them in any color. She also makes blankets and handbags.

Laura next said, “The time it takes her depends on what she is making, but she can make a pumpkin in around two hours…blankets take longer.”

Avis has also been making custom piñatas, and perhaps they too will make an appearance alongside her mother’s honey products at the market.

(Avis can make just about any character from pop culture or literature into a piñata. Who knows? In future, the honey-loving Winnie the Pooh may soon make an appearance as a piñata there.)

Laura also said, “Avis collects cereal boxes and the like and uses them to shape the piñatas in all different characters and forms then designs the image detail with crepe paper.”

Laura continued, “Lily is an amazing artist and can draw anyone’s portrait. We were at the Savannah Christmas Made in the South Show one year when she was around 5 years old. She pulled up a stool, and while customers were tasting honey, she asked if they wanted her to draw their portrait for one dollar.”

“She took the back of our business card and proceeded to draw their portrait. Each one looked exactly like the person — so much so that they all wanted their photograph taken with her with them holding their portrait to show their likeness.  They said they wanted this to have when she became famous for her art one day,” Laura added.

Laura also said Lily has learned how to make custom colored rubber band bracelets and would like to sell them at the business’s table at the market.

A sweet relationship with the Statesboro Main Street Farmer’s Market

Laura has had a fairly long history with the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market.

Creamed honey (Photo Courtesy H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey)

“I was a vendor at the Statesboro Main Street Farmers Market for two years when it was located in the Sea Island parking lot a couple of years ago. I took a year off after my Dad passed away, and this has been my first year back and in the new facility,” she said.

Laura said she loves the new building and continues to plan to attend, adding that it is fun to see their friends and repeat customers there each week and meet new people.

Laura continued, “The girls help sell the honey and see their friends too. All the vendors are so supportive of each other; it’s become a little farmers’ market family. It feels like camp!”

“The Market Manager Willow Farmer is amazing and always super happy and helpful. Same goes for The Statesboro Visitors Center team; they are an amazing support, and everyone works so well together. Whenever we are not traveling out of town for another event, we always plan to attend the Farmers Market. We would miss it if we didn’t,” Laura said.

Buzzing to different venues

Laura and her worker bees sometimes move their metaphorical hive to different locations. 

Laura said, “We travel often to different events for honey tastings and shows. A few of the larger retailer events are the Atlanta Market at the AmericasMart and the Natural Products Expo West in California. We have several consumer events we attend every year.”

Honey available year-round

Customers do not have to worry about the business’ honey being out of season.

“Honey is absolutely seasonal; however, because different floral sources grow during different times of the year, bees are able to pollinate from the different flowers and create many different types of honey. Cotton Honey is harvested in the fall, these last two weeks actually, and Orange Blossom in the spring. Wildflower is year round as it has a spring and a fall harvest,” Laura explained.

Again, note that the honey varieties are named according to their floral sources.

Because H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey works with several beekeepers (who use traditional/historic methods for beekeeping), they choose the quality of honey they collect as well as offer a wider range of honey types. This also frees them from being limited to a specific flower, region, or seasonal variables that can affect quality levels and the purity of the honey.

Only the finest honey (and helpers!) in the world (Photo Courtesy H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey)

Happenings with the Healthy Honey folks

At their brick and mortar location and online as well as at the market and at other events, H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey is putting together some new products.

Laura said, “A few are Ginger & Turmeric Creamed Honey, a Hot Honey, a Coffee Creamed Honey, and a few others. We recently launched our Cinnamon Creamed Honey made with organic cinnamon, and it’s currently our top seller, along with our wildflower, of course.”

For more information on the honey and honey-related products of the business, see http://www.franklinfoodsllc.com or call (800) 260-4995.

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Ron Baxley, Jr., who is new to Grice Connect, has been a freelance (and at times full time) journalist for over a decade total and has been a creative writer almost his entire life. Though across the border...