Photo Credit: RJ Stokley Photography
By: Megan Roche
Alisha Dante Wehrenberg is doing all she can to help change the cleaning product industry, starting small by making a difference in her own community. The single mom from Hackettstown began making her own cleaners to protect her kids and to make her home filled with less chemicals. However, after she started making her own products and passed them out as gifts to family members, her aunts, sister, cousins, and mom told her that she may have a budding business venture.
“I started when my kids were little with making my own cleaning products that were nontoxic. They wanted to always help me clean and I used to give them just water. I had wondered why I was being so conscious with them, but never with myself. I didn’t want to give them chemicals but then I realized I shouldn’t be spraying them on things that they were crawling on and I shouldn’t really be breathing them in either.” Wehrenberg said.
From those little gifts, Honey Bee Naturals was born. Wehrenberg started her business with a simple window cleaner and from there has branched out to bathroom cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, disinfecting sprays, air fresheners, and more. She had an Etsy store, but when her product line took off, working a full time job and devoting her time to her cleaning product business on the side became too much for her.
“In like three weeks, I had dozens of orders. With the demands of working 40-50 hours a week, plus keeping up with my three sons’ schedules, I had to close my Etsy shop. I had to also find unique ways to ship products since I use so many essential oils and there were just so many requirements that I started selling them more local.” Wehrenberg said.
When she was working at a local women’s wellness center, Wehrenberg began selling her products to local women who visited the center. After she was laid off in November of 2019, she needed a new way to provide for her three boys. When she was a little girl, her mother would clean houses and suggested that as a job option to Alisha. With that idea in her mind, she started her own home cleaning business using her all natural cleaning solutions.
“When I did get laid off, my mom and I realized that maybe I could bring back my all natural cleaning products, but in a new way.” Conscientious of the environment, she even is mindful of the way her products are packaged. “I use a lot of glass bottles and if my customers bring me my bottle back, I’ll take it even if it’s broken and recycle it. I just want to know that it’s being reused and recycled in the right way.” Wehrenberg said.
Through Wehrenberg’s experiments with her products, she’s learned a lot about what harmful chemicals lie in everyday products. While she makes her own products, she also encourages any customer that she cleans for to make the switch to safer products. Eventually, she would like to try to work alongside corporations to advertise all products in their cleaners on their labels. She hasn’t stopped learning about her craft either.
“I’ve researched a lot of essential oils, I’ve read a lot about different natural cleaners and how they can be used. I’ve taken a couple essential oils classes and attend seminars when I can. I’ve tried to learn about different things in nature that can be used as antifungals, degreasers, anything I can do to avoid any chemical at all, I’ve researched.” Wehrenberg said.
Currently, Wehrenberg is researching grants and federal funding to help expand her new small business venture. Her advice to other women about the fear of starting their own small business? Start the business anyway and do something for yourself.
“It’s scary but women are stronger than they think that they are, and I think that women are so great when it comes to ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Women are intuitive and smart and scrappy. You can find a way to make it work and it’s just a matter of finding someone to help you. It’s hard work but you can absolutely make it work if you really want it.” Wehrenberg said.
Wehrenberg can be reached on Facebook at www.facebook.com/honeybeenaturals or by calling (973) 580-8341.