It’s safe to say the average 21-year-old has never spent a summer plotting the logistics of suppliers and distribution for her business, but Tori Mayernick is not an average 21-year-old.She is the founder of the Davidson College chapter of Hives for Lives (H4L), a corporation that sells honey to raise money for innovative cancer research.The goal of Hives for Lives is to teach students about social entrepreneurship.Club member Jessica Ewing, also 21, said the model “uses the tools of business to address a crucial problem,” such as social or environmental issues.Mayernick and Ewing said college is an ideal setting for a social entrepreneurship venture, because students are “still idealistic but also are seeking concrete experiences.” A social entrepreneurship club like H4L combines thosegoals, they said.The eight H4L club members do not receive salaries. They donate 100 percent of the proceeds after costs to benefit innovative cancer research at the UNC Chapel Hill Lineberger Cancer Center. Rather than supporting the curing of any specific form of cancer, the group supports innovative research that might have difficulty finding funding. The philosophy is “high risk, high reward.”Recently, H4L raised $1,000 over three evenings by selling honey at Christmas in Davidson. They were invited to be vendors at the upcoming Southern Spring Home and Garden Show in Charlotte in late February. They hope to sell 1,000 to 2,000 jars at the event.Mayernick has been involved with H4L since 2005, when she was in high school. Her friend Molly Houlahan lost her grandfather to esophageal cancer. Houlahan’s relatives raised bees, so when she decided to start a venture to benefit cancer, selling honey was a natural choice. Mayernick helped her friend start and run H4L at Agnes Irwin High School in Pennsylvania.Though both Mayernick and Houlahan graduated years ago, the high school group is still going strong with Molly’s father as the adviser. Mayernick said the group does about $40,000 a year in honey sales, and their honey is sold in more than 50 stores. The Davidson H4L remains very connected to the original group.When Mayernick began attending Davidson College, she decided she still wanted to pursue the work she helped start. In 2011, during her sophomore year, she founded the Davidson College Hives for Lives franchise, with the support of Ewing. “The cool thing about running a business is you can take it in whatever direction you want,” said Mayernick.She spent the summer of 2013 working on Hives for Lives at an office space in a “start-up accelerator” in uptown Charlotte, where various startups are based. The Davidson College Venture Lab provided the office space and a $3,500 grant.She worked out flaws in the business, “tweaking, readjusting and moving forward,” she said.One issue she addressed was expensive shipping costs. H4L got honey from a supplier in Virginia, who shipped it to Pennsylvania for processing, then to the Davidson College club. Mayernick found a local supplier, Mama Beehive Honey Farm, to drastically cut costs.Now the chapter operates by the motto “local honey, local money” by having both a local supplier and a local benefactor.Ewing said she likes to emphasize that the honey is healthy. Local honey is thought to help alleviate allergies and other conditions. It is very nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals and antioxidant properties. H4L’s honey is lightly filtered and never flash-heated, which means it retains its natural nutrients and flavor.The honey is sold at Davidson’s Healthy Home Market, and H4L is in negotiations to put it on shelves elsewhere.Mayernick and Ewing are both seniors and political science majors. Both have ambitions of social entrepreneurship for their futures as they begin searching for jobs in anticipation of graduating this spring.Mayernick hopes to work for a fast-growing start-up in impact consulting and would like to start another social entrepreneurship venture in several more years. Ewing hopes to work for a reproductive health and family planning organization.During the spring semester, they will prepare the club to continue once they have graduated. The Davidson College H4L is the first franchise. They hope other schools will start their own franchises in the future.
Friday, Dec. 13, 2013
Davidson students learn business, benevolence in Hives for Lives
Marjorie Dana is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marjorie? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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