A rare find in Northeastern Pennsylvania, Newkirk Honey is reinventing the traditional use of honey. EunJin Newkirk opened Newkirk Honey in 2011, starting with only 50 hives.
A native of South Korea, Newkirk came to the United States in 2006. Her ultimate goal was to learn English and get a job in the visual merchandising field, working internationally. While in the United States, she met her husband, who is from Iowa. They lived there for a couple of years, and in 2010 moved to Scranton.
Newkirk wanted to go back to work in the area of visual merchandising and continue her career. Her husband, however, had other plans. Once he mentioned he wanted to start his own beekeeping business, EunJin said, “If I can design something, I will do it!”
Although she had always dreamed, as many people do, of having her own business, she never expected to be doing something in the agricultural field. With a differently-geared degree, Newkirk thought she would end up somewhere in the design or visual marketing service field.
Newkirk Honey is described in one word: simple.
The business keeps bees locally in order to provide a quality honey. This differentiates it from other beekeeping businesses, as it does not use its bees for commercial use. In other words, they never send their bees to commercial pollination. By doing this, Newkirk Honey is able to provide high-quality, local honey while protecting the bees from harm.
In the local honey category, wildflower honey is Newkirk Honey’s top seller and the business also offers clover honey. In the specialty honey category, it offers blueberry blossom honey, orange honey, lavender honey and green apple honey.
In addition to not using the bees for commercial use, a lot of Newkirk’s ideas come from Korean traditions. A few products that are unique to Newkirk Honey include their raw honey fruit teas and honey caramel.
When opening Newkirk Honey, EunJin and her husband faced a few roadblocks along the way. Not fully understanding the weather in NEPA when they got here caused them to over-purchase bees they eventually lost because of how quickly winter approached.
“Obviously winter is always challenging to winterize them (bees) but this year, the summer has been really wet and cold, so our bees are not producing as much honey as we have had previously,” Newkirk said.
In addition, they struggled and are still struggling to find vendors in the community to sell their honey to.
As EunJin grows Newkirk Honey, her goal is to have her own farm store open to the public. The farm store would have quality farm foods for the entire family, with a special focus on supporting local farmers and their foods. They would also like to expand into the Asian fermentation foods area. They have already made some headway this year but the food is only available seasonally.
After reflecting on her own success, Newkirk has some advice to offer for those looking to open their own businesses: If you plan to start your business, it is important to make a small goal at the beginning. This goal will always change as you grow, but unless you are an inventor, overnight success will hardly happen.
“So start with a light goal in mind just to have fun with, as you get reactions from each customer, you will really get into the business. Not from the first day of business.”
Lastly, one word: “Patience.”
For more information on Newkirk Honey, visit newkirkhoney.com, or find the business on Facebook and Instagram.