September 07, 2023



“I really wanted to do a 180 and learn a completely new industry so I jumped in with both feet.” - Cindy

Interviews with founders in the Conscious Beauty Collective
See the interview on YouTube

Elizabeth: In this edition of Conscious Conversations, we are talking about self-care and industry advice with Cindy Barberes, founder of H. Honeycup. H. Honeycup creates natural skin care products dedicated to inspiring you to feel good about yourself while doing good for others. They promote self-care, encourage a giving community, and prefer a fun, relaxed culture which translates to their body care products. Specializing in body care, they carefully select and blend the best plant-based ingredients. They are fully transparent with their ingredient lists so you can trust and understand what you are putting on your skin.

Elizabeth: Tune in as we talk to Cindy about all things wellness, self-care, and body care.

Elizabeth: Good afternoon my name is Elizabeth Koshy and I am the founder and CEO of Empress Naturals. We are a USDA Certified Organic brand, vegan, and cruelty-free. We have no chemicals in our products, and we are an anti-aging brand with a particular focus on face serums. We have two products in our minimalistic skin care range. With our Anti-Aging Face Serum, wash your face and apply our rosehip seed oil in the morning. Then for the evening we have a Luxe Night Elixir. This is used at night after washing your face.

Elizabeth: Today we have with us a very interesting woman and she is an entrepreneur based out of Philadelphia. She is the CEO and founder of a wonderful brand called H. Honeycup. Her name is Cindy Barberes. Over to Cindy who is going to give us a snapshot of what her brand H. Honeycup is all about.

Cindy: Thank you Elizabeth, it's nice to see you. Yes, I started my brand which is a natural body care brand in 2017 after I left corporate. I worked in the investment industry, and I really wanted to do a 180 and learn a completely new industry so I jumped in with both feet. I overcame all of the “I'm not good enough”. I overcame all that and I just gathered momentum and I never looked back.

“MADE SAFE is . . . a very good process because the market needs clean, honest beauty brands.” - Cindy

We have a variety of different body care products: body scrub, body oil, lotion and lotion stick. Four of our products are MADE SAFE® Certified so you're familiar with the process. It’s a cumbersome process but a very good process because the market needs clean, honest beauty brands. While yours is organic, which is amazing, especially with the supply chain issues, ours are not organic. We use some organic ingredients. The four that are MADE SAFE® Certified are our best sellers.

“We try to use MADE SAFE as a guide because they are always thinking about the safety of humans, animals, aquatic life, and the environment. Those are the same kinds of things that I think of when I'm thinking about the ingredients for my products.” - Cindy

It took a year and a half but we're very proud that we did get the certification for those four clean beauty products.

“It was a great exercise because it made us really evaluate every ingredient, how it's made, our suppliers, detailed composition. We required documentation from our suppliers, and it was very black and white. As you know if the ingredient and the supplier did not meet certain specifications then we had to move on.” – Cindy, about the MADE SAFE® Certification

Elizabeth: OK tell me in about three words how you describe yourself before you started the company and today.

Cindy: Well, I would say before I was focused and stressed. Now I would say that I have relaxed confidence.

Elizabeth: Great. Yes, the whole idea is that you feel passionate about something, you like it, so you're not stressed. When we work as entrepreneurs, we are so passionate about what we're doing that we don't even think of it as work, right? Exactly, the beauty of it is if you go in the morning to do a job and you don't feel like it's work it means you're enjoying your job. If you think it's like work, you're just working for the salary or for something else, right? You have mentioned that you discovered many colors of yourself and what's that different aspect of your life that you figured out after your corporate career and having started this business? What is different?

Cindy: Well, the work-life balance is completely different where I have the energy now to spend time with family and friends and they said that I had completely transformed. They didn't recognize me because I was always so serious and I was so exhausted, I had nothing left and now it's just a real pleasure.

“Now I have time to give back to the community which I do through my brand. We have a member of our immediate family that has struggled with addiction and so I knew that I wanted to be able to give back if I had my own company. So, it made sense that I was making clean beauty . . . we donate our products to those centers because they are trying so hard to live a clean lifestyle.”  - Cindy

Self Care Set for those in recovery from addiction

“This is just a small thing we can do to donate our clean beauty. The ingredients are transparent, it's non-toxic, it's safe for their skin and so that is something that means a lot to me.” - Cindy

Elizabeth: Tell us something about your journey and the Inception of H. Honeycup. I'm quite intrigued to know about why the initial “H” is in front of Honeycup.

“With the “H”, I used to keep it a mystery but now I confess that I just love alliteration. Then I paired it with the honeycup because I really love honeysuckles and buttercups.” – Cindy, on the company name

Elizabeth: OK other than sustainable and clean practices, what are the things you look for to incorporate into your products, especially in the skin care, body care routine?

“I wanted to be transparent. We really vet our suppliers very carefully. We don't use any animal byproducts so of course we're vegan and cruelty-free. Also, non-GMO which is important for the environment.” Cindy

Elizabeth: How many products or SKU’s do you have, and would you like to show the viewers some of your products?

Cindy: Sure, we probably have a dozen or so. Since I'm at home I actually went into my own bathroom because it's six o'clock Eastern time. I grabbed this which is my own scrub that I use. This is an Orange Sunflower Body Scrub. On the East Coast right now there are a lot of sunflower farms that are in bloom that people love to go and visit. It's a sugar scrub and it's our best seller. It's an exfoliator and it smells so refreshing. You just rub it gently on your arms and body and it melts off in the shower and you have that refreshing orange scent. Your skin is left very soft.

“On all of our labels we have this take care message which is an important part of our branding. It talks about how with every purchase you're helping someone who's suffering from addiction. It's really part of our mission and so we have it on every single label.” - Cindy

H. Honeycup cruelty free skincare label for those in recovery from addiction

We also have a hand lotion that is jasmine and it's just a lovely, dreamy jasmine scent. It almost smells like honeysuckles which is important to me. There really is no honeysuckle essential oil or anything and it's very hard to create a honeysuckle natural scent and so whenever you see that it's probably a blend of jasmine and other things.

We have a lotion stick too which I don't have with me, but people love that because it's travel size and you just throw it in your bag, and you don't have any mess. You roll it right on.

One of our newest products is an insect repellent originally launched a year ago and we thought that we were ready and then we realized it just wasn't up to our standards. We wanted it to be non-toxic, but we also wanted it to last. You'll see a lot of essential oil insect repellents. They're natural but they last half an hour, so this lasts much longer. It has ingredients like lemon eucalyptus oil and that helps along with vanillin which is like a vanilla extract to repel insects naturally. We're really excited about that.

Elizabeth: Wow, great. What is the reason behind this whole journey of going clean and conscious? Why did you decide to go this way of coming out with the product or a skin care range which is clean and conscious?

“The key is that these types of products can be highly effective, just as effective if not more than skin care products that have all kinds of harmful chemicals.” - Cindy

Cindy: I mean to me it was a no-brainer. I was always into healthy living and eating clean and so it made sense to me. When I started, it was just starting to take off as far as clean and natural and vegan and sustainable. Now all those things are almost expected and required by customers. It just made sense to me why would you put all these chemicals on your skin which end up in your bloodstream. I didn't have any personal health issues other than migraine headaches but who knows whether that was skin care. I think that everyone is now embracing clean and natural.

Elizabeth: Can you give us some advice especially for the young entrepreneurs, young women who would like to start their own business? Can you give us some advice that we can take to them? If they plan to start a business, what should it be? What's the advice that you can give to them?

Cindy: I think one of the things that I learned early on after starting my business is that there are no shortcuts. I thought oh I have somebody who can make my products and I have a few products now. I hired a PR firm. I hired a social media specialist. But what I realized was that was too soon. My business had to evolve. I had to live and breathe my business and allow it to develop before it became what it is today. The branding changed, the messaging changed, we had a bigger product offering.

“I think  that was an expensive lesson that I would say I'll never forget and that other women should think about. There are no shortcuts.” - Cindy

Elizabeth: What are some of the biggest challenges you faced after having started your business?

Cindy: I think that because it was a new industry and everything was really new at first, I had doubts like “Can I do all this? Can I learn a new industry? Can I learn how to develop new products? That whole creative side. Do I know the regulations?” I really think that was a big challenge that I overcame. It turns out with the right attitude and a lot of hard work, you really can learn what you need to learn and then you can decide, OK I'm really not going to ever be a specialist in this area so I'm going need to outsource that. You work with people, you meet people, and the people that you trust will give you referrals and then you need to outsource certain functions.

Elizabeth: Cindy, do you have any regrets about the business or anything that you feel that I shouldn't have done this? When you started your business something that you feel like hey, I think I did the wrong thing, and I would like to rectify that, or I could have rectified that?

“There isn't one or two things that are going to be the key to your success. It might be 50 things and they all have to come together in a changing environment.” - Cindy

Cindy: I think one of the big things was one that I just explained about how I just cut to the chase.

I thought if I got the PR firm that would be the magic bullet and you can't really think that. I can't think like this, and neither should others who are going to start a business. Our industry changes and you know the consumer, you know likes and dislikes, they change so we have to be very adaptable and so that's one of the big lessons that I learned. You just can't rush these things.

Elizabeth: I hear you. Thank you so much for this wonderful interview. So inspiring and best of luck with your brand.

Cindy: Thank you.

Empress Naturals is a skincare and wellness company, specifically formulating products for women above 35 years of age. Our aim at Empress Naturals is to provide you with 100% pure and organic skincare. We provide ageless radiance and luminous skin without exposing your skin to the thousands of toxic ingredients.

H. Honeycup creates natural skin care products dedicated to inspiring you to feel good about yourself while doing good for others. We promote self-care, encourage a giving community and prefer a fun, relaxed culture which translates to our body care products. As a family affected by addiction, we donate clean beauty products to individuals in recovery from addiction with the hope that it helps them heal both body and mind naturally. We ask our community to suggest where we can donate, which makes it personal for all of us. Find out more about where we donate. H. Honeycup is currently participating in the Conscious Beauty Collective in Palm Springs, California.

Conscious beauty includes sustainability, clean and transparent ingredients, giving back to the community, and educating consumers on clean beauty.