Like bees to honey: US-based Honey Girl debuts in China after winning over Alibaba

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Honey Girl Organics was fast-tracked to enter China’s beauty market via Alibaba's Tmall. [Honey Girl Organics]
Honey Girl Organics was fast-tracked to enter China’s beauty market via Alibaba's Tmall. [Honey Girl Organics]

Related tags China honey Us e-commerce

Honey Girl Organics, a company that uses bee-derived products, was fast-tracked to enter China’s beauty market after winning over Alibaba in the firm’s second annual Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest.

Honey Girl is a Hawai’i-based company that offers a range of USDA Organic Certified bee-derived products.

The green beauty brand was founded in 2006 by Christina Sirlin, Gwen Maxfield, and Anthony Maxfield. The latter is the current president of the Hawai'i Beekeepers Association.

Aside from honey the products also contain other beehive ingredients such as beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, royal jelly, as well as olive oil.

Honey Girl claims that its products are multiple benefits such as combating environmental aggressors, rebalancing oil production, and fading dark spots.

The brand recently participated in Alibaba Group’s Tmall Global Go Global 11.11 Pitch Fest, which was created specifically to help small and medium-sized US brands expand their businesses into China.

The brand was among seven winners that were fast-tracked into the Chinese market via the Tmall Overseas Fulfilment program ahead of the Singles’ Day mega-shopping festival.

Buzzworthy introduction

The company was first exposed to the Chinese market in 2018 in a chance celebrity encounter.

In 2018, a Chinese movie star came to Los Angeles and purchased some Honey Girl products at a Whole Foods Market store. She loved them and made various social media posts which resulted in a huge number of Internet orders,” ​said Sirlin.

That occurrence helped to raise the brand’s awareness in China, and from then it has continued to receive orders from there.

It has also attracted the attention of various Chinese distributors, but the company held off on those plans then as it was unable to work around China’s mandatory animal testing policy.

“We side-lined these opportunities because of the Chinese regulation of animal testing at the time. Since that rule has been lifted and we are working with Tmall, the future appears promising,” ​said Sirlin.

The company is aiming to tap into the popularity of organic beauty products in the marketplace with its affordable products.

“Our experience with Chinese consumers points to them wanting clean, organic, and effective multi-purpose skin care at an affordable price. Our products are all these things and are concentrated nutrition requiring a very small amount of cream for a tremendous amount of benefit,” ​said Sirlin.

Additionally, it believes being made-in-Hawai’i, where its primary ingredients are sourced, will be appealing to Chinese consumers.

We want to tell our story and think people will find it to be different and appealing. Our products use local, sustainable and organic ingredients that we keep as close as possible to their original state,​” said Sirlin.

Furthermore, due to the frequent safety issue of items in China, consumers have a heightened awareness of safety and the brand’s ingredients and certification can help to reassure them.

“Our ingredients are food-grade, and our slogan is, ‘If you wouldn’t eat it, why would you wear it?’” ​said Sirlin.

While the company has a promising outlook on China, its expectations on growth are measured.

“We anticipate a slow and steady growth in the Chinese market over the next 12 months. We hope to educate Chinese consumers on the benefits of organic skin care, and we see the China market as a slow building loyal customer base,” ​said Sirlin.

Aside from China, Honey Girl is also available in Japan and Vietnam. Sirlin added that the company sees potential in the wider APAC region. It currently has its eye on several markets including Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, and Taiwan.

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