Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (JA), the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and EY have awarded Chippewa Falls native Natalie Abbott with the “2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year” for her honey company that she started at age 10 as a 4-H project. She will be recognized at JA’s Wisconsin Business Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on April 21 at The Pfister Hotel and will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship.
The recipient of the Young Entrepreneur award, presented by EY, is selected from a joint committee from JA and DPI who evaluate each candidate on the following criteria: business success, growth potential, social involvement, ability to overcome challenges, strategic direction, innovation, personal integrity and leadership.
"Along with EY and DPI, Junior Achievement is thrilled to honor Natalie Abbott as this year's ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year,’" said Tim Greinert, president of Junior Achievement of Wisconsin. "Natalie not only represents excellence in entrepreneurship, but she is a role model to all young people looking to start their own business."
Abbott’s ability to recognize the needs and wants of honey consumers set her above the other applicants for the “2016 Young Entrepreneur of the Year.” Abbott realized early on in her experience the very high demand for raw, local honey. The West Hill Honey Company, a home-based beekeeping company, provides raw, local honey harvested from Abbott’s own bee hives.
Abbott really expanded her business in the summer of 2012, when she launched a kick starter project to fund her purchase of a un-capper, extractor and bottling tank to fully convert a room in her house to a dedicated honey room.
Abbot’s extensive knowledge of honeybees and beekeeping provides her with an edge. She is able to educate her constituents and answer their questions. Her main focus of sales is at craft sales, speaking at local 4-H clubs, and providing salons and boutique shops with her lip balm. Many of her customers are repeat customers, and call regularly to see if is honey available. Abbott enjoys all aspects of beekeeping, and is anxious to expand her business of harvesting honey and beeswax. Currently, she put her profits from honey sales back into new equipment for her company.
Like any young company, The West Hill Honey Company faces challenge - such as a bear destroying over three-fourths of her beehives last year. However, Abbott has been given five beehives this year, from someone with the WI Honey Producers Association, because she was the youngest member of the group. As a sophomore at Chippewa Falls High School, Abbott hopes to build back up to 20 beehives this year, continue to expand her honey sales and her work with local craft fairs and salons, and to begin producing lotions. Abbott’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year video application can be viewed on the JA website