Sun 6/24 @ 1-5PM
Honey, Brent Wesley has found his home. It’s with bees in one of his many urban apiaries where five years ago he created The Akron Honey Company. Today the Cleveland native, Akron resident’s business is thriving, err, buzzing.
However, Wesley wasn’t content with just converting vacant lots into apiaries. Instead, he created the Akron Honey Market Day event, which annually brings the local community together.
This year’s Akron Honey Market Day takes place Sun 6/24 @ 1-5pm at 1045 Jefferson Ave., in the Rubber City. Billed as the best social neighborhood market, the afternoon affair includes food, shopping and DJ Forrest Webb.
The upcoming event features Tthe Akron Honey Company; the Square Scullery; Sandy Bottom Bowls; Stray Dog Carts, Cafe, & Condiments; the Garrett Candle Co.; Saint Augustine and Suds; 2 Daughters Tea Company; Compass Coffee; Butter Your Nuts; five-blessings; Tea House Bakery LLC; Ms. Julie’s Kitchen; JBurgess Designs; Every Blooming Thing Akron and Sweet Mary’s Bakery.
CoolCleveland: Congratulations regarding the Akron Honey Company. Tell us how you got started.
Brent Wesley: It’s a small business that’s becoming a bigger and bigger deal. It’s a natural food and right now we’re trying to have a visual brand. We’re doing things very transparently. We started off with these vacant lots in Akron. I bought one on the west side and turned it into an apiary to beautify the area. Now, it’s revenue-generating, so it has that economic impact. I bought another vacant lot on the east side. I have three apiaries total. Each one — if I have like five hives deep, which isn’t too many — could produce up to 400 to 500 pounds a year.
CC: So with absolutely no training or a background in apiaries, how did you land on owning an beekeeping business?
BW: I don’t know. I love honey. Somebody convinced me. I sought out advice. I landed on beehives because I wanted something to share with the community. This wasn’t supposed to be a business. I just bought the lot and turned it into an apiary so my community would have something cool to do and something to brag about. Everybody always talking about how cool Cleveland is. I was like, what about Akron? What about our neighborhood? That’s a big reason why I did it.
CC: Are you looking to grow the Akron Honey Company?
BW: I’m not looking to create more apiaries. A large amount of the investment has gone into our production lab, a production space. It’s in Akron at an incubator called the Northside Marketplace. It opened last September and it’s beautiful. It’s not like a typical production space. It’s built with medium design, innovation and transparency. It’s all glass. You can see everything we’re doing in there.
CC: Let’s pivot over to the Akron Honey Market Day. How did this event come about?
BW: Market Day is another market, man. It’s a really cool, smaller market. It’s for people to shop small and be social. It’s an open-air social market. That’s kind of what I’ve coined it. The reason I coined it that way, it’s not like a typical market like the Cleveland Flea, which is huge and pretty homogenous. This is a small setting, a small cast of entrepreneurs, small business owners. The recipe consists of small business owners with energy. So you have business owners with foods, hospitality. You’ve got like a furniture person there. You got a DJ and this is right in front of our apiary.
CC: It seems safe to suggest that Akron Honey Market Day is a manifestation of your initial vision to bring the community together?
BW: You got it, yeah. At this event, as far as honey is concerned, we’ve got our local batches for sale, but then we collaborate with other business owners. So there’s this company called Stray Dog Cart that’s like street food. Its owner is Charlie Murphy, who makes mustard from scratch. A couple of years ago I gave him some of our honey and he made this honey mustard that was so good. Now you can get a corn dog with the honey mustard. I’m telling you, man, that shit was crazy. People were eating so many corn dogs because they could dip it into honey mustard. If you fast forward to now, we’re starting to test actual packaging of branded honey mustard. A great opportunity came out of that. So I’m up for collaborations between the participants.
CC: It sounds like Akron Honey Market Day will be a tasty and fun good time.
BW: If you like neighborhood communities, if you like hanging out with folks who are down to earth, this is the place. If you want to support small businesses, this is where you go. If you want to be a part of what makes a community special, this is what you want to do. You’ll have a great time on a Sunday. Just come on down.
[Written by John Benson]