When we first learned about Kobee’s Lip Balm, we were hooked. Tubes got passed around the office and we studied the eco-friendly packaging, the connection to our favorite honey bees, and of course how it makes our lips feel! Once we dug deeper and learned about the founder’s unique story, we knew we wanted to collaborate with Kobe. After learning more about the brand, you will, too!
Tell us about yourself – Where are you from? What’s your background?
My name is Kobe Harris, I was born in Detroit, Michigan but spent most of my youth in Waukesha, Wisconsin until I went off to college in Chicago. I like surfing (when I have the chance) but living in Wisconsin and Chicago there are not many opportunities to surf unfortunately. I have always wanted to run and own my own business, so I figured why not start now?
You’re currently a college student, yes? What are you studying and why?
Yes, I am a college student at Loyola Chicago currently studying Business Finance. I started off initially studying biology, but I ended up switching due to the long schooling for many of the roles in that area and I wanted to explore other interests. I still have a strong love for the sciences so I think I will pick up a minor in Environmental Science, combining my love for the environment and science.
Finance is an essential part of running a business and a lot of small businesses fail because of not knowing their business’ financial health. I’m very interested in investing and personal finance and I’m pretty good with numbers, so it made sense. So far, I am enjoying it.
How do you balance your course load and running a business?
It’s not as difficult as you might think. College gives you a lot—and I mean a lot—of free time depending on how you structure your schedule. I feel like it’s no different for individuals who are student athletes, have jobs, or even do research. As much of their free time focus goes to those individual activities, my free time is focused on running my business and trying to grow it! It seems to be a little less common for people my age to start and run their own business. I’ve always been pretty focused and motivated so having to say no to going out or going to a party is not that hard for me. I know it’s easy for young people to get distracted by all the things the new independence has to offer but if you set your goals early and stick to them, there is nothing you shouldn’t be able to accomplish!
Tell us about Kobee’s
Kobee’s is an environmentally conscious brand that looks to give back what we have taken. If you’ve heard the saying “We aren’t inheriting the earth from our ancestors, we are taking it away from our future children,” it’s true. We need to start taking responsibility for some of the actions we have set upon the earth we have been blessed to be born to. Things take time and no one will be able to change overnight but starting with one change has a domino effect. Kobee’s products are a simple way to create a positive start to a more friendly environment.
Kobee’s Lip Balm is packaged in cardboard compostable chapstick tubes that are biodegradable and compostable. We also have Lip Balm in aluminum tins that are recyclable and reusable. Even further than the Lip Balm, we want whoever is using or wearing the Kobee’s brand to know they are doing good for the environment by just purchasing a single tube of chapstick or buying a sweatshirt, water bottle, or straw—everything in our product line makes a difference.
We research organizations that are doing good for the environment so you don’t have to. A percentage of Kobees total sales go to Non-profit organizations that are committed to cleaning our oceans and lakes, efforts to replant and curb deforestation, and provide cleaner air for our future.
One small change is all it takes. BEE the difference. BEE somebody. BEE the change. Kobee’s
What inspired you to start Kobee’s Lip Balm?
It was all sort of random at first, a couple of friends on my floor had suggesting making lip balm and it was close to the end of the semester, we never ended up making it before we left for summer break freshman year. But before we left, they said you ever end up doing something with it you should call it Kobee’s.
I went home that summer inspired, had already started drawing up logos and figuring out what type of ingredients I would need to actually make the lip balm. Talked with my mom about it and then ended up buying like 200 bucks worth of ingredients and started experimenting. I bought a book on formulating cosmetics and did a lot of research on what typical lip balms used and just went to work. It took me about 6 months or so to get the formula to where I really liked and ended up actually using.
Once I went back to University in the fall, I wanted to do research on something that had to do with bees and the environment, so I reached out to one of my friend’s environmental science professors and had a meeting with her. I brought the lip balm and she loved it, the idea around Kobees and how it wanted to give back. But she was a big no-plastic advocate: Didn’t leave any waste, use no plastic products at school or at home if she could. At the time I had my lip balm packaged in the basic plastic packaging and she had suggested I try to find a plastic-free option, because at the time I had both aluminum tins which could be recycled and the plastic tubes which she didn’t like. That’s when I did some research and found the cardboard tubes that I use today! My best sellers!
What makes Kobee’s Lip Balm different than other lip balms on the market?
Kobee’s is different in the ways it approaches thoughts and actions towards the environment and how people interact with it. Most companies who create lip balm still use the traditional plastic packaging and claim to be eco-friendly. We use the cardboard tubes as a way for individuals to see there are alternatives to most plastic uses. We know that not everyone is able to live a zero-waste lifestyle, so we are trying to give them simple alternatives for starting to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
Also, with the many different organizations that are helping with climate change and the environment, it can be difficult to determine where to donate or how to help. When you purchase a tube of Kobee’s, a percentage of your purchase will be split throughout three different segments. Tree restoration, ocean cleanup, and air pollution cleanup. Just by purchasing one lip balm you are making a difference.
You use beeswax in your lip balms, what drew you to use beeswax as ingredient?
I use beeswax in my lip balm because I wanted to have something directly attached to the bees in my lip balm. I am able to source beeswax from local beekeepers from time to time. After becoming a beekeeper for the first time this summer it is nice to support others doing the same thing. Also, beeswax is the perfect ingredient in lip balm as it is a natural emulsifier that helps keep moisture in the lips, which is essential for curing dry and chapped lips!
I did not want any chemicals or additives in my lip balms so I only use four simple ingredients:
Sunflower seed oil
Mango Seed oil
But with more and more people turning towards veganism I plan on coming out with a lip balm that has an alternative to the beeswax for our balms.
Where does your love of bees and honey stem from?
I think my love of bees honestly stems from watching the Bee Movie multiple time when I was younger haha. I still watch that movie at least once a year if not more. Further than that, it’s hard not to appreciate all they do for us and the planet. Without them working constantly to pollinate, we wouldn’t have all of the food we love and enjoy. So, if you think of it in that sense its really easy to see the beauty in the bees themselves. I also did an Airbnb experience the summer I had started Kobee’s and I was able to be a beekeeper for day in California which was a very cool experience. I think that really enhanced my appreciation for them, being able to see them and interact with them up close was very cool. As for honey, it’s always something I have enjoyed. Whether it be with teas, biscuits (which I eat a lot), or any sort of cooking I tend to use a lot of honey. It’s so versatile and there are many different ways you can use it.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
I have always enjoyed interacting with other people and the fact that all the success I will have running this business comes from the fact I will have to put in the work. I like the responsibility of having to interact with the customers to make sure they are happy, making sure I am creating a high-quality product and everything that comes with running a business. Most of all, I enjoy getting up and being able to set my own schedule, I am not bound by someone telling me what to do or how to run my business, unless I ask for advice, and I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it.
For a limited time, each order placed at www.honeystinger.com will receive 1 free Kobee’s Lip Balm.