A Conversation with ‘H is for Love’ founder, Bee Ham
August 23, 2016
GOOD LIFE / GL: Can you share your background and story of how H is for Love was created?
H IS FOR LOVE / H: I have always been a bit of a health nut, but around the time I finished cosmetology school my husband Jae and I found out we were having a baby. I began to be thoughtful in new ways about the industry in which I was beginning a career and knew that I had to make a choice. The choice consisted of either going along with the idea of using the toxic barrage of chemical-laden products which surrounded me, or setting out to try to influence that same industry in ways I could be proud of. It took a while to figure out how that would look, but after a lot of research, I discovered an innate and absolute love for formulating skincare. Now I look back on all of the happy coincidences which led me here as providence. I’m very grateful to be doing this!
GL: What sparked your passion for natural ingredients, and what is it about natural skincare that you find so special and important?
H: My obsession began when I first read Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions years ago – my passion began with food! Drawing wisdom from elder cultures and learning that deliberate simplicity is usually more effective in terms of nourishment than complexity designed only for appeal and unnatural preservation. Bone broths, fermentation, animals raised in open pasture, organic/biodynamic farming. A connection to what we put into our bodies, and an appreciation for the nourishment nature provides. Like food, skincare must be natural to be incorporated into and utilized by our bodies. When we introduce synthetics and toxins, our bodies go into survival mode, triggering reactions that can take a long time to undo. Organic, wild crafted, natural ingredients are just the opposite; they are powerful and healing all on their own, working in harmony with our physiological systems.
GL: Why do you believe so strongly in the ingredients you use? Why are they an important part of a self-care routine?
H: Every ingredient in the H line is chosen to ensure purity, maximum potency, and efficacy. I believe skincare is a perfect compliment to the way we nourish from the inside, so I choose ingredients with the same mindfulness with which I approach another daily self-care ritual: eating. Organic, wild-harvested, local when possible, fresh, unrefined, and healthy. A self-care routine that begins with thoughtfulness and intention is a way to infuse something as noble as honor into practical every-day life which, I believe, causes a kind of ripple-effect into how we interact with the world around us. We’re all very connected in so many incredible ways. A wise man once said ‘…love your neighbor as yourself.’ which I take to mean that if I love myself well, I then have a greater capacity for loving those around me as well.
GL: How has your gut intuition played a role in starting H?
H: That’s a good question! I feel I have been guided since long before H became a reality. I’ve learned and am still learning to follow that leading whole-heartedly, and when I’m not obedient to those promptings things don’t seem quite right.
GL: Would you share your favorite H item (or two!)? Why is it so amazing? And/ or a customer success story on how your products have healed (acne…other skin issues etc.)
H: Oh my goodness…I cycle through favorites constantly because the needs of my skin change with the seasons, with the weather, with the amount of makeup I have worn…It’s one reason I enjoy the line as much as I do. It’s versatile, and can be varied to cater to the needs of the user. The product I use the most, though? POLLEN Illuminating Mist – it’s capable of so much! It balances pH after cleansing, preps skin for application of face oil, and sets makeup. When I first created it, it was for the skin I thought I had. Prone to breakouts, combination, and in need of something astringent. After just three months of using the H line as a whole, my skin changed dramatically. I realized that the initial formulation of POLLEN was not fitting for the skin I actually have. It turns out my skin is pretty calm, not prone to breakouts (save for the odd hormonal pimple) and prefers something gentle like a floral mist. So POLLEN evolved into what it is today. No longer witch hazel base, now it is organic rose hydrosol. It is a testament to the efficacy of natural skincare. Take out all the fillers, the toxins, the preservatives; give your skin minimal and natural care, and watch it balance itself the way it was designed to. We’re privileged to hear regularly from H users regarding the positive effects they have experienced. One of my favorites is actually from a woman whose husband used her H products. She shared that he had been suffering from severe inflammation in the form of tight, dry skin and red patches on his face for years but recently it had become worse. After trying everything he knew to try, he was making plans to visit a dermatologist when his wife talked him into using her H stuff. Just POLLEN and NECTAR calmed his skin enough to encourage him to keep using it. After two weeks his skin was calm and happy and in a healthy state he hadn’t experienced in years. So great! It’s a bit thrilling to get to be part of a person’s solution.
GL: What does your morning routine look like? What does your bedtime ritual look like?
H: Skin loves it when we keep it simple. I remove makeup at night with our RAPHA cleanser. A couple of times a week I follow with PROPOLIS as an exfoliator. Depending on the needs of my skin I will either use NECTAR or BARA or a mix of both, but I always spritz with POLLEN before and after moisture. In the mornings I use RAPHA on damp skin- I love cleansing with water in the morning. I need the water to wake up and feel refreshed. I read my skin for what it needs – something I sense is a lost art in our day but which I hope the clean beauty movement imparts – but most of the time I use NECTAR alone during the day in summer months, and BARA layered over NECTAR in dry seasons. I use PROPOLIS as a full mask one time a week to ensure I am purifying my pores so they can breathe and my skin can glow. I use Lip Conditioner No. 1 – PALMAROSA before bed and wake up with perfectly nourished lips, and during the day I have been loving the Lip Glacé – just the perfect touch of color and shine!
GL: What do you foresee for the clean skincare movement in the next 3 years?
H: Things are moving quickly. Social media makes so much of what clean beauty has experienced in terms of growth possible. Because of this we will probably see more regulation of the industry. People are coming out of the woodwork hard on the heels of the organic/non-GMO food movement realizing that what they put on their bodies is just as important as how they’re fueling them. It’s exciting! It’s an awakening in its own right and we want to be part of it, a contributor to it.
GL: What has been your greatest challenge in building your business? What has been the most rewarding?
H: My greatest challenge has been staying calm when things aren’t working as they should. I’ve learned that freaking out does nothing to solve problems. Things – life – just happens. There will be hiccups. Roll with it. Breathe. I try to center myself by thinking about what really matters – my kids, for example. My faith. Things get put into perspective relatively easily and I can accept that things aren’t always the way I anticipated they’d be and begin to adapt and move into those challenges. It’s interesting, actually, how the things you didn’t plan for can lead to your greatest achievements.
GL: What big plans and goals do you have for H is for Love for the future? Perhaps product or distribution expansion?
H: Right now our focus is on developing partnerships with retailers we trust and admire. It is our goal to have H found in shops which are well-aligned with our philosophy of simple luxury so that people can get the most out of these potent gifts from nature! We’ve had a lot of international interest which has been cool because we don’t yet ship internationally. That’ll be one way we expand, eventually, when we’re confident we can do it right. We also just released a couple of new products: RAPHA Harmonizing Oil Cleanser, and a botanically-tinted lip product called Lip Glacé – Root and Berry. We’re also toying with the idea of brand expansion. H IS FOR LOVE was always meant to be a lifestyle brand and more than just skincare.
GL: What differentiates your brand from other natural skincare lines out there?
H: There are a lot of really beautiful clean lines out there which I admire and which have amazing things to offer. Each brand has its own appeal, but one thing which distinguishes H is that one of our guiding principles is a belief that giving is better than getting. For now, this translates to giving eleven percent of all sales to Wellspring International, and one of the main reasons we want H to grow so our giving can grow, too. I have big hopes for that side of things.
GL: What is your favorite healing, whole food meal to make?
H: That’s easy – bone broth! After this, anything I can load with garlic.
GL: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about being a female entrepreneur?
H: There is a ton of support out there in the social community for we female entrepreneurs, and I love it. Honestly, though, I love having a partner who compliments me well. Jae, my wonderful husband is the other half of H, and I couldn’t do it without him.
GL: Where do you find your inspiration?
H: My original inspiration is always in the need. I created these products originally, because I needed them. But as I researched and tested and formulated, I became inspired by the process itself. Now, every aspect of the process of creating is inspiring to me. I get to use my brain in so many different ways, I never get bored!
GL: We love asking everyone this last question: How do you live the Good Life?
H: The Good Life, for us, is living mindfully, connected to the source of food, nature, our families, our neighbors. The Good Life is living in a manner that resembles the old way while being present in the now. Simple, pure and free.
Shop Bee’s incredible skincare line of harmonizing and healing products inside SHOP GOOD, our online clean beauty boutique — specifically curated with your body and health in mind!
*ALSO* become the expert on her line at our recent blog post here.