design: honey labels

Oh, matte black. How do I love thee?

When we set out to create packaging for our inaugural honey season, we wanted as much of the amber product to show through as possible. We sought high class, but wanted to still resonate as a pure, local product. We hopes to accurately represent each individual farm location, as the honey will taste slightly different based on what is growing in each area. {For example, Rocky Creek is home to a rare Sourwood tree that makes an exquisite honey.} And, we wanted it to stand out, but stay simple. 

So, we started with a hex jar, to align with the tile flooring we have in our honey processing house, and of course, honeycomb. We drew from the clover element within the logo for River Taw Farms (or first location for hives) to create the bee graphic, and kept the typeface clean, sans serif and delicate. And we utilized the space on the top of the jar lid to allow as little label to cover the honey itself. 

Combined with some quippy copy, a matte-metallic stock and a pop of color throughout, we felt confident releasing this "black label honey" to local vineyards, small general stores, boutique restaurants and gift stores in the greater Charlotte-Statesville-Cherryville area. There may be a few jars hanging around in our homes and offices too, ready to give to those who show up on our doorsteps.


As with any design project, it's "never done" -- and there are already a few edits I would make to our next run. But, product design is one of those challenges that requires both an analytical and a creative approach. In the case of the honey jar labels, one has to make sure that (a) all "required" state/local info is on the label, (b) that is it is correctly conveyed to the end user in such a way that it grabs their attention just by sitting on a shelf, (c) that it stands out amongst *many* competitors in this market and most importantly, (d) that the label actually FITS the jar correctly, especially when it is a unique or custom size. We worked with Frontier Label in our "backyard" of Greenville, South Carolina on this project, and would recommend them to anyone. I am sure that our product design will evolve over time, just as anything does, but for now, simple is sweet enough.

Interested in purchasing a jar of honey, or bees to start your own hive? Contact me for more information. 

photography: honey bees

One of the most wonderful things about working with a diverse group of clients, is the opportunity to learn new things - to expand one's awareness, education and passion for the millions of unique facets this world and humanity has to offer. My clients have taught me about forest conservation in Alaska; about how to take charge of one's legal career; about the world of recycling jet engine alloys; about progressive health care; about business-focused event planning, and so much more. But most recently, I have learned about bees.

There is a lot of buzz about bees right now, pun intended. You can google "honey bees" and get a plethora of quality articles, op-eds, and agri-resources. Their health and well-being is directly related to ours. The majority of our food supply is supported through their pollination. Our own environmental allergies can become subdued simply by consuming local honey, which also has shown anti-bacterial first aid benefits, and miraculously, can still be edible hundreds of years after it is stored in a tomb with King Tut.

And yet, most of what we know (and teach young children) about bees revolves around whether or not we should know where the nearest Epi-Pen is located. 

But, what I have learned over the past year, is how vastly advanced and complex bee colonies are. How susceptible to disease, cross-breeding and pesticides they can be.  And how wonderfully social, beautiful, amazing, intelligent and collaborative they are. If we all lived as bees do, our world would be a better place. (With the exception of all of the female bees kicking out the male bees to die in the wintertime. Ouch.)

We have 25 active bee hives here at Rocky Creek Ranch. And another 75+ at a "sister farm" in Cherryville by the name of River Taw. In collaboration with long-time beekeeper Jimmy Brooks, we have been able to launch a Certified Naturally Grown, fully sustainable colony of honey-producing Russian bees. And through this process, I have had the unique opportunity to not only photograph the hives, but also design the product packaging for our first entry into the local honey market.

As Part One of two posts, this entry showcases some of my favorite images from being "inside the hive." I was surprised at how easy it was to put aside any fear of being stung, and to just *be* with the bees.


When you look closely, you realize just how beautiful they are, and your awareness for them in your own environment shifts. They are not to be feared, but rather nurtured. They are not be squashed, but rather enjoyed.


 And through teaching children how to exist around bees, we can lower anxiety and raise awareness for these amazing little creatures that really are one of the most important contributors to our daily existence.


Tomorrow, Part Two - the final product design -- honey labels!