2020 was a tumultuous year, but it was also a year of tremendous growth and learning for both individuals and companies alike. This is certainly true of Beatrice Dixon and her company The Honey Pot Co., which makes plant-based feminine care products that are sold online and in retailers, such as Target. When asked what 2020 was like for her and her company, Dixon responded with her notable candor and positivity: “All in all, it was beautiful.”

Worth recently sat down with Dixon to discuss how she maintains a positive attitude during tough times, the importance of pivoting any way your company needs to and how companies can make a difference through the power of commerce.

Q: To start, I’m curious what 2020 was like for you and your company? 

A: 2020 was…it was really good actually. It required a lot of stretching, a lot of molding, a lot of learning. It had uncomfortable moments to it. It had really stressful moments to it. It had really happy moments. But all in all, it was good. All in all, it was beautiful. You know, the world obviously was on fire. But if I had to say, if you’re asking me personally, what 2020 was like, it was probably the best year of my life, really.

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And why was that? 

First off, because I made it. I’m still here…Personally, why was it the best year of my life? Because I really got to sit with myself. I really got to a place mentally where I just really got happy.

The world kind of shut down, right, and even though COVID is terrible, especially at those times, it was even more terrible because we didn’t quite understand it. I tried to remove myself from what was happening in the media and from what was happening everywhere. I traveled. I [had] a lot of quiet time. I shut some things down, cleaned some things up, I was able to really take care of a lot of personal stuff that was really bogging me down. And so, 2020 was like the year of release for me.

And for the company, it was the year that our company went viral, and we became a household name. Not that we weren’t already, but with the partnership we have with Target and with the, I don’t even want to call it the backlash, but the things that happened around what I said in the Target commercial you know, the whole Trustpilot thing and all those things that really got the awareness of our brand out so much more than what would have even happened if only the Target commercial had ran. That still is massive. But then, you pull in the fact that we went viral, that was massive. Then you pull in the fact that people were at home, and people want to take care of themselves, and they wanted to make sure that they were using the right things, and so our brand really caught momentum. You know, it was rough in the beginning because we weren’t necessarily prepared for that kind of momentum. But the good thing about when you’re not prepared is that if you’re willing to stick with it, you will get prepared. So, it really helped. I think that super uncomfortable moment really shaped our business. Yeah, it was the best year of my life. A lot of terrible things happened, but, unfortunately, terrible shit is going to happen. That’s life. I just focused on what I could control.

You spoke at our Lonely CEO event a couple of months ago, and one of the things I was really struck by with you is how positive your attitude is, especially during tough times. So, I would love to know how you do it. How do you keep up the good attitude in hard times?

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I focus on the shit that I can control. And whatever I can’t, I empathize with it, I see it for what it is. And I may have moments where I’m not as positive, right? I’m not positive 100 percent of the time. But the thing about me is I want to be positive 100 percent of the time. So, when a positive moment, or when a not-so-positive moment comes—because my goal is to have a positive perspective, even if I’m not feeling the most positive, or even if my reaction isn’t the most positive—it’s easy for me to get back to being positive and being rational and being calm because that’s the state that I want to be in.

The retail industry was definitely affected by everything that happened with COVID. I’m curious how that affected you and your company?

Yeah, it was crazy. I mean, at first, it felt like it affected us badly because we weren’t prepared for that type of growth. And then, we weren’t prepared for COVID. Nobody was. So, there was already a pain point because the company had experienced that kind of volatile, and volatile doesn’t sound positive, but in the most positive way—we had experienced this massive growth like, overnight. And then when COVID came, which was literally right after, ports didn’t know what was going on, manufacturers, ingredient manufacturers, raw materials manufacturers, component manufacturers…the bottle that we use for our wash became a very popular bottle for antiseptic, hand foam and wash and gel. So, things like that were happening. And we had to make really rash decisions and find backup plans. We were out on our website for weeks; we were shipping our orders to retailers, like they order 100 and we’re only able to send 50 type of thing. We’re shipping orders at 50 percent, 40 percent.

At first, it seemed like it was a negative, but what we realized very quickly, is shit, everybody’s going through this shit. It isn’t just us. So, what I wanted to do with my team, because everybody was stressed, especially my sales team and ops teams, was [say] ‘look, we can’t control what’s happening around the world right now.’ So, what we had to do was…minimize our stress levels around the shit that we couldn’t control, and let’s focus on what we can, and let’s be extremely honest with our partners, with our customers, whether they be our direct customers or our retail customers…let’s get extremely, extremely, extremely honest, and let’s tell them what’s really going on, let’s tell them what we can do. We’re not going to over-promise, because we don’t want to under-deliver, even though we were already under delivering. Once we did that, that kind of took the stress off a tiny, tiny, tiny bit and helped us to be able to do what we could while putting stops in to build the inventory, to build our supply chain, to get back to being to shipping in full. It just helped us to put the focus where it needed to be. And it actually became something quite beautiful. It was definitely a complete metamorphosis that needed to happen, but it worked out for the best.

I want to come back to what you said about massive growth. Was that from your partnership with Target? Or was that from something else?

Yeah. It was the partnership with Target. It was the fact that we went viral. It was the fact that, you know, putting both of those things together, COVID happened and people are at home—they already couldn’t buy our stuff, so when our stuff would come in, they would buy everything. It was like a double-edged sword. You want your people to buy everything, but then it’s like, fuck, if they buy everything and the next person’s going to go in and not…you know what I mean? So, it was good growth. But the thing is that the growth was inhibited at first because we couldn’t supply for that growth. And that’s the thing that was really painful.

One thing we noticed a lot around the time COVID hit in the U.S. was that a lot of companies started pivoting to produce hand sanitizer and masks, even if they weren’t initially selling these products. And I think it’s really interesting that your company didn’t do that. So, I’m curious, how important do you think it is for companies to stay true to their missions during times of panic and crisis?

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I mean, look, what’s important to a company is to fucking bring money in, right? So, I don’t judge anybody for pivoting. If their sales went down, consumer packaged goods companies must make things that humans consume. And if the shit doesn’t make dollars, it does not fucking make sense. So, companies that pivoted might have been in a position where their sales were tanking. Or they may have had products that were in retailers that were closed. And so, what are you going to do? Cool. Look, we got to fucking make something that people need to buy, must buy and will buy from us because they trust us. I understand that shit. No judgment.

I think the thing that makes my company a little bit different is that I’m in a commodity type of business. Women are not going to stop bleeding. They’re not going to stop washing their vagina. When you’re in the house with your man or your partner or your woman or whatever, y’all are fucking, So, women needed to make sure that their vaginas were right. Because think about that shit. You know how many babies are going to come out of COVID because people were home? So, my business model was one that would do OK in a position like this, because my products are not overly expensive. They’re premium, but they’re not so premium that they priced themselves out. Somebody doesn’t have to make a life decision. And if they do have to make a life decision, they’re probably going to forego their fucking expensive moisture cream or something before foregoing their wash or their panty liners or their pads or their boric acid or their vulva cream or their panty spray. So that’s really the reason why Honey Pot didn’t really have to pivot because people were at home, families were together. And, you know, we always joke, but it’s some real shit, our company can kind of keep families together because we’re supporting the vagina. And, you know, people’s vaginas were active. So naturally, it made sense that our company didn’t need to necessarily pivot and also that our company would survive through something like that, because we don’t make a thing that somebody can live without.

But I also understand, when a company must, they have to bring money in the door. And if bringing money in the door means that you’ve got to fucking sell a mask or some hand sanitizers or some hand wash or some hand cream, listen, do whatever you must do and have to do to keep your business alive. I commend businesses that are willing to do that shit because even though it may not match with what your brand story is telling, it doesn’t matter. If you were able to keep your business alive with those products, then I respect that. Sometimes there can be a stigma around staying true to your brand identity. But your brand identity ain’t shit if you’re not bringing in money.

Something we’ve been talking about a lot in the last year is the idea of voting with your dollars. What do you think of this idea?

You know, in one way or another, we’re voting with our dollars. And that isn’t even necessarily tied to sustainability all the time. That isn’t necessarily tied to social impact all the time. I think the way that you vote with your dollars in the purest way is through your love for yourself. So, voting with your dollars in the purest way is making sure that when you buy things, you’re buying things that really improve your life, your lifestyle, your health, your awareness, your peacefulness. I think that buying with your dollars should be to curate whatever you truly want your experience to be on this planet.

And then, I think, once you take care of that love that you have for yourself, then that can span out to voting with your dollars for companies that have packaging that’s sustainable, that uses clean ingredients, companies that benefit the planet, humanity. But I think first and foremost, voting with your dollars at the purest level is creating the most beautiful life for yourself. And we should, I don’t want to say we should because people can do whatever the fuck they want with their money. But I’m going to speak for myself. If it’s my atmosphere, I love to see plants. I love things that smell good. I like a very clean space. I like very neutral colors. I like clothing that that is very comfortable because it helps me to be free. I need to drink greens. I need to eat organic food. So, for me, voting with my dollars first starts with me. Then it spans out to, ‘Are the companies that I’m supporting actually supporting the planet?’ And ‘Are the companies that I’m supporting actually supporting humanity?’ And sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t. But I think what’s most important about where I spend my money is how it’s improving my life and my lifestyle.

Lastly, how do you think we make a difference through the power of commerce? How do you think companies can affect change?

Wow, I think…so many levels, man. I think it gets very, very cellular.

First and foremost, what are your products doing and what do you use to make those products? Because that’s really the shit. That’s the stuff right there. If you make your products with a bunch of toxic chemicals, chances are you’re not really giving back to humanity. And that is just at the simplest level.  I think that we affect being the change in the world we live in by being responsible with what we actually use to make our products. And when I say make them, I mean, the chemicals that go into it, non-toxic or toxic, because everything’s chemical.

And then, I think the other place that we do it, which is also pretty cellular, is how do we build the teams within our companies, and how do we fucking treat those teams? Because however you treat your company, the people that work there, the humans that have to come in, day in and day out to make sure that everything happens, that shit is important, man. How are they paid? How do they live? Do they enjoy their work? Are they treated well? Are they respected? Are they micromanaged? Are they cared for? That’s important because these are the people that are actually doing the work.

And then from there, how do we look at the manufacturers that are making our products? And look, that shit’s not easy either because you really don’t start to get into quality standards and those types of things until your company reaches a certain point because being able to dot your I’s and cross your T’s on the quality checks that have to happen at the manufacturing level, that shit cost a lot of money. So, based on where you are…if you’re beginning the process, that might not be a place where you can spend a lot of focus and time because the humans that you have to have to do that are expensive. But at least doing your best, putting your best foot forward, vetting them out, understanding how they treat their employees, understanding their workflow, understanding what their quality systems are internally, understanding what their microsystems are and testing and all those things. All of this shit is important. And I think when

you’re at least putting your best foot forward and doing your best that you can control, I think that that is also moving towards affecting change. And then, when you can do better, when you have the resources financially and with the right human capital, then you know better and then you do better and then you can potentially move or transition to something that’s better. But I think as long as you’re always doing your absolute best with your products, with your team, with your manufacturers, I think that that’s huge.

And then if you want to, and you should only do this if you want to, how diverse is your team? How are the women paid compared to the men? What does the diversity on your team look like? What does the diversity in your marketing look like? How do you talk? How do you meet the humans? How do you serve the humans that you’re serving with your products? I think that that’s huge. And then, if you want to once again, put social impact into the fold—how do you serve humanity and invest back in humanity to those who don’t have access to water, food, showers, period products, whatever the case may be? Because what you realize when you start to do some social impact work is that a little, even if all that a company could do was $1,000 a month, a little bit goes a long way. So, if that’s a place that you want to enact change and be the change in the world that you live in, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to create your own organization. You can just find organizations that are already built, and then connect with them, and then say to them, ‘Hey, I only have $200 a month.’ But $200 a month or even $100 a month is something. You could be used to be benefiting two people a month. Two people a month, you quantify that, you’ve helped 24 people in the year. That’s still a lot, you know? So, it’s looking at how you can put your best foot forward and how you can give from what you have because you can’t give if you don’t have it.

I think that there’s so many levels to being the change in the world that we live in, and if you can do any one of these things, not even all of them. And I don’t have all the answers, there’s so many other variations of answers. As long as you can put the right energy into it, as long as you want to be the change in the world that you live in, you will be. But it really has to start from there. And then it can fold out in all of the ways or some of the ways or in one of the ways that I just explained.

Beatrice Dixon will be speaking at our Women & Worth Summit 2021: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, taking place March 2-4. You can register here or below.