At the age of 26, Ellie Hock has done a lot of things—she’s earned a master’s in speech therapy, she’s done the show-dog circuit, and she’s started her own business: Urban Nectar was the result of a journey Hock took after the death of her mother in the fall of 2011 from brain cancer. We talked to her about how it all got started.
Explain how Urban Nectar began.
When my mom was in hospice, we went to the nail salon all the time—that’s how we would get out of the house. Then after she passed away, I started bee-keeping. In April 2012, I got my first set of bees, and I knew that if I made a profit from honey sales, I’d use it to help others.
I wanted to somehow bridge the bee-keeping with nail polish, because it was something that my mom and I did. So I got in touch with a cosmetic company and asked if they would manufacture my product. I design the colors and create the names, and they take care of the manufacturing. Many of the colors are named after the plants that bees pollinate.
And the nail polish is environmentally friendly?
Yes, in cosmetics there are some chemicals that are legally allowed (such as formaldehyde, toluene, dibutylphthalate and camphor), but this company doesn’t use them. If you can have an option that doesn’t use chemicals, it’s safer.
Also, 25 cents of every bottle sold goes to Cancer Support Community. As the business grows, I hope to donate a larger portion of the sales. I also volunteer there, and I send them the donations every month. When my mom got sick, she went there, and their mission is all about quality of life. They provide nutrition information, counseling and support. And it’s not just for the people who have cancer, it’s also for the people taking care of them. They’re fully funded by donations, and when I started Urban Nectar, I felt it was important to give back to something that spoke to that quality-of-life aspect of caring for people with cancer.
What do you like most about the company?
I have learned a lot about business. My masters degree is actually in speech therapy, and that’s what I do with the rest of my time. But I’ve done a lot of things—once I did dog shows with my dog, he’s a lagotto. I like to stay busy, but sometimes I find I’m too busy.
This is all still very new, but everyone has been very supportive; and I’d like to see it become more established. For now, it’s manageable.
What colors would you recommend for spring?
I always go for the Easter-y spring colors like lavender, or another shade I call catmint shadow (a subtle gray with purple undertones). Another good color is manuka, which I named after a plant that grows in New Zealand that has healing properties. The flowers are white, but I took some creative license and the nail polish is actually a feminine pink.
Editor’s Note: Urban Nectar is available at stlurbannectar.org, as well as Sweet Boutique in Clayton and Philip Johnson Salon in the Central West End.