Inside Sweet Beginnings:

A Podcast About Social Enterprise

Have you ever wondered what exactly goes on inside Sweet Beginnings?

Now's your chance to find out! We'd like to welcome you into our hive to see how our worker bees make the honey and how we collectively create sweet beginnings for returning citizens.

Inside Sweet Beginnings gives you a special look at the inner workings of our social enterprise. We'll tell you about our many challenges and successes, and share some of the lessons and best practices we've accrued over the past fifteen years.

Whether you're curious about how to achieve social impact through business, passionate about creating job opportunities for returning citizens, or you just really love bees, we have something to share with you. Our queen bee, Brenda Palms Barber, has so much wisdom to offer, and we can't wait to get started.

Have a question you'd like us to answer in the podcast? Want to tell us about your idea for a social enterprise? Send us a note through the form on the right and join the Sweet Beginnings community!

Ready to check out the first episode?

Full Episode List

How did Sweet Beginnings get started in the first place? And why would we choose to work with bees, of all things? In our first episode, Brenda Palms Barber talks about how she launched a social enterprise to address the impact of mass incarceration in North Lawndale.

How does Sweet Beginnings provide a stable work experience for people with high barriers to employment? In this episode, Brenda shares how Sweet Beginnings serves our clients as a workforce development program. You’ll learn about the core components of our U-Turn Permitted program, how Sweet Beginnings builds on that foundation, and how the program helps clients build confidence in their skills and restore their sense of self-worth.

Charlotte Austin, our lead operations assistant and former client, shares how she created a sweet beginning for herself when she returned home after twenty years in prison. You’ll learn how NLEN and Sweet Beginnings played a role in Charlotte’s journey, why it’s so important that we employ staff like Charlotte who have the lived experience of incarceration, and how she helps our transitional workers turn their lives around.

What are the benefits of setting up your social enterprise as a subsidiary of a nonprofit? How can you balance social mission with your business priorities? Brenda Palms Barber shares how she set up Sweet Beginnings as a social enterprise that is sustainable for the long term. You’ll learn about the give and take relationship between Sweet Beginnings and its parent nonprofit, why we decided to set up Sweet Beginnings as an LLC, and how we put the values in our triple bottom line into practice.

What defines the beelove® brand, and how do we get to know our customers? How do you tell your story as a mission-driven business? Daphne Williams, our Chief Growth Officer, explains how she understands the beelove® brand and engages with our customers, what it’s like to lead a social enterprise, and how she continuously learns from working with our transitional employees. You’ll learn some strategies for engaging with customers and using those insights to drive business priorities.

Brenda Palms Barber reflects on the lessons she’s learned over the sixteen years that Sweet Beginnings has been in business. You’ll learn about the challenges she’s overcome – such as trademark issues, ineffective distribution services, and not being taken seriously – and how those lessons can be applied to other social enterprises. You’ll also learn what she considers to be Sweet Beginnings’ great successes, and what’s next for Sweet Beginnings!

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