We had the good fortune of connecting with Nikki Morgan and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nikki, what do you attribute your success to?
I think my business success comes from my ability to connect with people. I love making people feel welcome at our farmer’s market and I’m happy to answer questions they have about what I do and what makes us unique.
Since I’m the beekeeper, customers are able to make a connection with the person who is handling their product rather than just grabbing a jar at the supermarket. I believe it makes the product more special and they’re excited to support me in the future.
These strong ties with the community lead to new opportunities, like new locations to keep bees or bee removal jobs. We’ve began working closely with Eco Now because of the friendship we made at the market. We sell several products of ours at their two stores in Anaheim and Costa Mesa and collaborate on new projects.
For me, I just comes down to treating people with respect and leading with curiosity. You can learn from every single person you meet, so take the time to chat with everyone!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I began with Backyard Bees as an intern in my last year in undergrad at Chapman University. I had no idea what I was going to do once I had my degree in Environmental Science and Policy. My internship turned into helping over the summer and the following semester, but once we got asked to join the Orange Homegrown Farmer’s Market, I took on a lot more responsibility. That’s when I began to make the products myself and learned how to beekeep.
Fast forward 5 years, and now I’m the head beekeeper and only full time employee. My boss and mentor, Janet Andrews, taught me everything I know about beekeeping and running a business. But more than that, she’s taught me how to be a stronger, more confident version of myself.
Working with the bees is the easy part. What has been most difficult for me is valuing my work and having others take me seriously. Because I’m a woman, people are often surprised to learn that I’m the beekeeper. When I had a male coworker, customers would look at him to answer their questions when I was the one who had been doing this for years and he was just learning! Truthfully, it makes it even more rewarding to do my job well because I’m breaking the stereotype.
Overall, I just want to encourage people of all ages to try something new; you never know what will stick! You’re never to young or old to try something that you’re interested in and it doesn’t even matter if you’re good at it, just enjoy the process. Most of our products came from us trying to make something we normally would have to buy. There’s lots of trial and error, but it’s rewarding regardless of the outcome.
Many people assume that our company is much larger than it is. In reality, it’s just Janet and I slowly refining what’s been in the works for over 10 years. Building a business takes time and it’s a lot of work, but being passionate and believing in your product gets you far! I can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I like to relax and people watch. One of my favorite places to do that is the Orange Circle! I’d go get brunch at the Filling Station or Snooze then grab a coffee to go at Contra or Philz Coffee to drink in the plaza by the fountain and chat.
I don’t go to the too beach often, but when I do I take my pups! Sidecar Doughnuts in Newport is the perfect stop before heading to the dog beach. Bring your sweet tooth!
If you want to do something more active, there are beautiful hikes near Irvine Ranch Park and Santiago Oaks in Orange. I love that you can either take a nice stroll through the park or loop around through the hills for miles!
One of my favorite restaurants in the area is Taco Rosa located in Tustin and Latina Hills. They have delicious Mexican food and authentic horchata made with tiger nuts. The servers are friendly and makes for a great date night.
Finally, if you’re looking for an interesting drink, you should check out Honey Pot Meadery in Anaheim for booze brewed with honey and fruit. Be aware it tastes sweet and goes down easy, but they’re strong! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Orange Homegrown Farmer’s Market is really the beginning of my story with Backyard Bees. I began as a customer and now have been a vendor nearly every Saturday for over 4 years. They are what every farmer’s market should be: a gathering of friends that gives back to its community. Thank you for allowing us to grow with you!