It was in the West Java jungles in 2018 where Jungle House founders Paul Poh and Ashley Lam stumbled onto some local indigenous bee hunters by chance. The hunters offered them both a taste of the honey produced from these bees around the area. And since then, there was no looking back for the husband-and-wife duo.
What both Paul and Ashley found was a gem in the form of liquid gold. It was pure, organic and raw honey with very unique flavours. The local bee hunters said that the taste was formed by the flowers the honey bees gather their pollen and nectar from.
They knew that they had to spread this joy to as many people as they could. Thus began the establishment of Jungle House in 2018.
Started from the bottom
Now that they have a type of product and a business plan, both Paul and Ashley divided up their operations.
At this point, Ashley already had some experience in the honey business. She ventured into it in 2007, selling honey through kiosks and road shows in Singapore up until 2013. Paul, however, had no knowledge of it, being in the engineering field.
Despite that, the duo understood each others’ strengths and decided that Paul would oversee the finance and management side while Ashley handled the retail and operations.
They knew that the honey they found was pure and unadulterated and decided that they wanted to spread the message of including honey in their daily lives as a natural source of minerals and vitamins.
Through Jungle House, they aim to bring the honey from the hive straight home.
“Our passion is to make the enjoyment of raw honey easily accessible and affordable to all Malaysians. We also moot the enjoyment of honey as a lifestyle experience on a daily basis for good health in a natural way,” said Paul, who is also the CEO of Jungle House.
Their journey was tough because, according to Paul, the market didn’t readily accept their new brand when it was first established.
“Building a brand requires time and effort. When we first started, all malls rejected our application to operate there because they hadn’t heard about us. It takes a lot of passion and effort to educate people about honey and how it helps in building a healthy lifestyle,” he added.
Despite that, both Paul and Ashley continued to push on and opened not one, but two outlets within the same year of 2018. These outlets are located at Queensbay Mall, Penang and Mid Valley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur.
Things started getting tough again for Jungle House during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
“It was rather bad as our retail presence is mainly concentrated in major malls along Klang Valley and Penang. We started with all brick-and-mortar stores.
“The pandemic that forced us to re-think our business channels and to look into an omnichannel business model where customers can purchase our honey products through online platforms,” Paul explained.
However, Paul says that there is a gradual pick up of footfall in the malls and that it is a good sign the economy is recovering. But now, at least customers are able to get Jungle House honey from the physical stores and also online.
Advocating Purpose over Profit
“Besides bringing this healthy, delicious honey to urban cities and the rest of the world, Paul and I were touched by these kind and generous bee hunters, seeing their challenges, difficulties and dangers of the job that brings little income, yet still committed to their craft. We want to help these hardworking bee hunters to make a proper living while harvesting honey responsibly,” said Chief Business Officer Ashley.
Paul added that their initiative to help bee hunters includes skill-sharing and other upskilling methods.
“Bees are the biggest pollinators in the world. 70% of the food and crops we have today comes from bees’ pollination. Through our journey, we are advocating for the protection and preservation of existing wild honey bee habitats through the campaign of ‘Save the Bees, Save the World.’
“We offer education to people and especially bee hunters and stress about the importance of bees as well as how to protect them. Bees must be preserved through ethical bee-keeping, responsible harvesting practices and pesticide-free farming,” he said.
Jungle House advocates for the bee hunters as well through protecting their interests via fair wages as well as ensuring their work equipment and environments are safe.
At the same time, we work very closely with our bee hunter and bee farmer, serving them through skill-sharing and upskilling initiatives, as well as protecting their interests by paying fair wages and ensuring safe working equipment and environments.
The few elements – the bees, the flowers, the jungles, the weather, and the delicate ecosystem – must harmoniously thrive to contribute to the delicious taste, distinct flavours and amber tones of the honey that is harvested. This is why it is crucial to ensure the ecosystem survives.
Honey lifestyle store
From the jungle to the mall, Jungle House now has a cafe concept lifestyle store located at Bangsar. The All Things Honey cafe is Jungle Houses’ ninth outlet and opened its doors around mid-March 2022.
What makes this store different from the other Jungle House outlets is the fact that this store sells honey-based food and beverages and customers can sit in to enjoy their meals.
The cafe’s Honey Breakfast Oats, Russian Honey cakes, varieties of Croffles (cross between croissant and waffle), honey coffee, tea and juices – all paired with specific flavours available from their current line-up of more than 10 different types.
Ashley said that in the transition towards the endemic stage, everyone has to live with COVID-19 in the community.
“That’s why it is important to have super-foods like honey to boost our body’s immunity,” she added.
Today, Jungle House aims to offer “All Things Honey” – carving a niche as the 1st lifestyle honey store in Malaysia, cultivating honey culture for everyday healthy lives. The brand product selection includes a variety of Raw Honey, Honey Cakes, Honey Beverages (including honey coffee, tea and fruit juices) Honey Personal Care products and Gift Sets Collections. All these natural honey products are available at their retail stores, online platforms, corporate gifts and their cafe.
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