Meet the Founders of Apis Mercantile!
In June of 2019, Liam and I flew out to Colorado to help our good friend, Matt Rowe, plant his first crop of hemp at Ivanhoe Farms. We were excited to help, and it was a great opportunity to escape some of the Charleston heat, which in early June, had already become too hot for my liking. The trip was the culmination of a lifetime of experiences that led the three of us to work together in the burgeoning hemp industry. Without knowing or being aware of it, the seed for Matt’s farming career and Liam and mine’s journey with Apis Mercantile had been planted in the backyard of a Charleston home in the downtown area of the Holy City.
Matt, Liam and I first met in Richmond, Virginia. Matt and I actually met in middle school and ate lunch at the same table in eighth grade before becoming fast friends in high school. It wasn’t until our sophomore year that we met Liam, a transplant from Salem, New Hampshire, which seemed worlds away from Richmond at the time. We fell into the same group of friends, took frequent road trips and beach trips together, and formed a strong bond that’s unique to those young adult years. After high school, I went to study at the College of Charleston following in my brother’s footsteps. I loved the school, the city, and the laid back nature of the people so much that I convinced Matt, Liam, and a contingent of other Richmond friends to transfer schools and relocate jobs to live in Charleston. Our friend group rented a house together that became the staging ground for many fun nights, hobbies, and our eventual careers.
In the backyard of the home we rented together on St. Philip down the street from D’allesandro’s Pizza, we cultivated a garden and a small scale apiary. Matt grew tomatoes, muscadine grapes, and a whole bunch of different herbs and peppers. Liam started a surfboard company and took an interest in both gardening and helping me with my two honeybee colonies. I remember one summer, Matt became known as “Mojito Matt” for slinging mojitos with his homegrown mint. We held parties with live bands while people rested their cold beers on top of the hives with bees flying in and out. It’s hard to believe, but we only ever had one accidental sting during our backyard get togethers. We didn’t know it at the time, but the summers we spent in the backyard tending to our hobbies were transformative. Matt fell in love with botany and continued his agricultural pursuits after graduation moving out to Denver, Colorado. Liam furthered his entrepreneurial efforts after college and I continued in the honey industry.
In 2017, after several years in the workforce, the three of us were catching up while visiting family in Richmond, Virginia. Matt was telling us about the growing hemp industry in Colorado and the various uses of hemp, and Liam and I were fascinated. Hemp, having spent the majority of the 20th century as a banned substance, was a novel crop that seemed to have limitless opportunities. Matt decided to make plans to start his own boutique organic hemp farm and Liam and I set out to incorporate hemp into something we were both passionate about: honey and hive ingredients. After months of experimentation, Liam and I successfully infused hemp extract into honey and we hit the market with our first product: jarred hemp oil honey. Since then, Liam and I have expanded our product lines to include full spectrum sublingual droppers and health and beauty products like a hemp salve and hemp body butter. Each product we make incorporates an ingredient from the hive and hemp extract from Ivanhoe farms, a powerful combination of ingredients.
After launching Apis Mercantile in 2017, we’ve changed quite a bit. Our brand identity has been updated, our products have been reformulated, and our team has grown considerably. Despite all of these changes, we’re still the same company at our core. We’re committed to producing the best hemp and hive products on the market and delivering a world class customer experience. Around the office, we have a saying, “All ships rise at high tide.” When I read those words, I’m reminded how we started and all of the experiences that continue to shape our identity to this day. Matt, Liam, and I are still working (and laughing) together all these years later. What started in the backyard of a Charleston home has grown into two companies, Ivanhoe Farms and Apis Mercantile, that employ people in South Carolina, Colorado, and Massachusetts, and are committed to leaving a positive impact on the world around them. We’re lucky to do what we do and we’re thrilled to have so many loyal customers and supporters as part of our growing hive.