The Red River Market is buzzing with visitors and vendors. The sun is shining. There’s a slight breeze, carrying music from Broadway Square. This is one of the best parts about late summer Saturdays in Fargo. Strolling through the stalls, it’s amazing to think how much this weekly event has grown.
Brittany Luthi loves market days. Three Bears Honey Co. has been a fixture at the Red River Market since the beginning, providing locally harvested, 100% pure honey to the community. “I think we were one of the first dozen vendors,” Luthi says with a smile. “The growth is incredible, and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”
Both the business and her family have grown along with the market. Almost every Saturday you can find her downtown with her husband and their three energetic boys. It’s a significant time commitment for a young family. Just one of many for this boy mom, including an 8-to-5 position with a local marketing agency. Finding balance and success in all these areas is definitely a challenge, but one she’s up for—especially on market days.
“I’m slowly learning that my happiest, most special moments happen when the circus is at its peak. I often refer to my life as beautiful chaos with three boys. And, as much as I strive to do it all, I think it’s important to step back and recognize that it’s not always possible and to give myself the same grace that I would offer someone else in similar shoes.”
Relationship building is important in any business, but especially for a small-scale, local operation without a storefront. Three Bears Honey relies heavily on face-to-face time during market events and their social media presence to connect with their loyal customers.
“I deeply care about and appreciate the opportunities I have to talk to customers at the market,” Luthi said. “It ties together all the things that are important to me. Not every conversation you have is going to result in a sale. To me, it’s more about establishing the relationships and building your brand on the morals you have.”
Kindness and family are primary among these. When you’re spending long, hot hours in a small space with energetic young boys, anyone could be forgiven for being short with others. But Luthi makes it a point to be intentional with her time and give her whole self to the task at hand, whether that’s chatting with a customer who used to keep bees, being a boy mom, or her marketing job.
For Luthi, a working knowledge of personality types is also important for small business owners. She is a fan of Enneagram assessments but recommends at least a passing familiarity with one or more personality models. Paired with a keen sense of self-awareness and understanding, this allows for better communication in any situation.
“Researching and educating myself on personality types has helped me grow in my relationship-building and leadership skills. It equips me to step back and recognize how other people might handle a situation differently than myself.”
In addition to face-to-face connections, Luthi also works to promote the Three Bears Honey brand on social media. As a marketing professional, she’s well aware of the importance of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Knowing what’s best for your business is one thing, but actually creating the content is another, though. Luthi has learned to give herself grace when it comes to posting and to plan ahead whenever possible.
- Have a running list of content you’d like to create.
- Prioritize content creation on platforms where you’re looking to grow.
- Be social on social by responding, engaging, and listening.
- Create a plan for where you are right now, even if it’s just one post a week.
- Take advantage of downtime in your business to stockpile content.
- Use the tools you have at hand through your existing platforms to schedule content in advance.
- Build online relationships with customers and other businesses.
- Share what’s real and be authentic
“In a world of carefully and creatively crafted social posts, I think it’s easy to get intimidated. I encourage business owners to just share the photo. Don’t overthink it. We often overlook the fact that our audience is human, and so are we. They want to simply see what we’re doing, and raw photos and videos help build and support that authenticity.”
In addition to connecting with customers face to face, Luthi also takes advantage of her time at the Red River Market to network with other business owners. Setting up shop next to someone new every week allows her to share ideas and inspiration with other local entrepreneurs. These conversations have led to new markets and collaborations for Three Bears Honey, from lattes and ice cream confections to hot sauce, salad garnishes, and more.
While this type of camaraderie might be unique to the market community, Luthi encourages other business owners to seek out networking opportunities in their industry.
“Networking and collaborating with other local purveyors is so fulfilling,” she said. “Whether you’re leaning on one another to discuss challenges or brainstorm new ideas, it’s an honor and privilege to have a supportive group to turn to.”
A Sweet Future
For Luthi, the time she gets to spend connecting with customers and creating content for Three Bears Honey is a sweet escape. The business and her family are intimately connected, so growing and strengthening one inevitably benefits the other. She was excited when her eldest joined his father and grandfather in the field with the bees this summer and looks forward to when his brothers can join them.
You can find Three Bears Honey year-round at grocery stores in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin and in person at market events throughout the year. Luthi invites you all to stop by and chat next time you’re out enjoying the market community.