Figuring out her business model would be the next challenge. When your livelihood is "dependent upon something that is dying or struggling to survive, it's a pretty big gamble you're taking," she says. She knew she'd need several different streams of revenue to make it.
She began that fall by selling her aunt and uncle's honey via bicycle throughout Minneapolis. Because it was close to Halloween, she decided as a marketing gimmick to wear a bee costume. "I put on some striped socks, I got some pipe cleaners and some foam balls, and at 30 years old," she pauses to laugh, "I dressed up like a bee and handed out business cards with honey samples." It worked. Customers to this day include local restaurants, coffee shops and food co-ops who saw her cycle by in that getup. She dubbed her pedal-powered business The Beez Kneez.
Next, Allen decided she needed a "honey house," a term that describes a structure where honey is extracted and processed for sale. After taking a business course via Women Venture, a women's business center run by the Small Business Administration, Allen launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2013. The goal? Turn an old carpet factory — "a big concrete box," she says — in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, smack in the middle of the Twin Cities, into her honey house. The campaign successfully raised close to $40,000. The property now serves as The Beez Kneez headquarters and a place hobby beekeepers can come process their honey. "We charge by the hour and do the clean-up afterward," she says. "It's very sticky."