Jungle House Honey
In this interview, founders Paul & Ashley Poh, tell the story of Jungle House, a honey store and cafe, and some of their bee-related goals.
What do you do?
(Paul) We try to cultivate a healthy lifestyle through honey. All things honey is our business philosophy. We are carving a niche as the first lifestyle honey store in Malaysia, growing honey culture for everyday healthy lives. All our honey is direct from hive to home. We wish to bring the purest and rawest form of honey from the jungle to the people in the city. Currently, 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.
How did you get into the industry?
(Ashley) When I graduated, my first job was selling honey for a Singaporean brand. That is where I learned a lot about honey types, how bees harvest honey and how honey could change lives. In 2018, I decided to start a brand of my own to educate and change the honey culture in Malaysia. In 2014 I met Paul, who was in the engineering field. Seeing we had the same passion for honey, we decided to start a business partnership and started Jungle House in 2018.
Since then, I have been overseeing retail and operations while Paul takes charge of finance and management of the business. We both have different strengths, and this way, we complement each other and hope to be the first to commercialise the wellness aspect of honey.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes of Jungle House.
(Paul) The trip searching for honey was a pivotal moment for me. It was there where I experienced not only natural and delicious honey, but it is also the trip that ignited my purpose of building a brand that serves the people, the ecosystem and the bee farmer and hunter community. It was there we met with those noble and kind indigenous farmers, making us feel the purpose of the brand. We hope that besides bringing this natural goodness to people in the city, we can at the same time grow and help the bee hunting community to grow and ensure sustainability in their livelihood.
What’s a food memory from your childhood or travels that stands out?
(Ashley) Penang assam laksa. It is my all-time favourite! The best for me is from the store near Kek Lok Si in Penang.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
(Ashley) The best part: We can contribute to the sustainability of our ecosystem by educating people about the importance of bees and honey for the world and life. Honey has been around for centuries and is known as a natural remedy and superfood, utilised by many different civilisations for food and medicinal purposes. Moreover, people worldwide have hailed the health benefits of honey being rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes. If we can educate people to tap into the health benefits of honey by consuming a spoonful daily, it will surely help to keep the immunity level strong and healthy, which is crucial during endemic times as now as we are still grappling with the covid situation.
The worst part: Too sweet a life after too much honey! Just joking. There is really nothing much we can complain about as we truly believe in what we do and how honey can elevate or improve one’s health, so we feel blessed and honoured to share this beneficial message.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing?
(Ashley): A spicy black pepper crab dish accompanied by a glass of sparkling honey juice.
What’s one of the most outrageous things you’ve seen behind the scenes of Jungle House?
(Ashley) On a visit to Indonesia for honey searching with 30 men and I was the only woman travelling in a motor vehicle for three hours into the wild jungle. It was a life-changing experience, and I got to witness and appreciate the difficulty and hardship that bee hunters have to go through by trekking thick jungles, seeing them climbing up gigantic trees and risking their lives just to obtain the drops of honey nectar for us.
The perfect day off would be…
(Ashley) I would like to say having a fine cup of coffee with friends in a nice café but really, what makes it a perfect day would be when we see repeat customers coming back to us to let us know how the honey has helped to strengthen their health or their children’s immunity and continue to make drinking honey a habit so they can live a fuller and energised life.
A day in the life of a honey specialist is…
(Paul) As honey specialists, we aim to let everyone know all about the benefits and goodness of honey. It is about bringing out the sweetest moment and goodness of honey to people around us, including our staff and our customers. Our passion is to make the enjoyment of raw honey easily accessible and affordable to all Malaysians and moot the usage of honey as a lifestyle experience daily for good health in a natural way. We managed to encapsulate that in our latest venture, Jungle House Café in Bangsar, which not only retails honey but serves light bites such as Russian honey cake, croffles, honeymisu and a whole series of delicious honey drinks and beverages that use honey as an important ingredient. We hope to showcase how honey can be easily incorporated into daily items that we eat, drink and use.
What do you do for fun?
(Ashley & Paul) Watch movies.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Jungle House?
(Paul) Jungle House is about all things honey. Jungle House provides a wide range of pure, raw natural mono-floral daily honey nectars as well as highly concentrated premium wild jungle honey such as Royal Black and Royal White honey, which are very rare and contain high medicinal nutrition to benefit health immensely. At Jungle House, we have a mission to constantly educate people that each drop of honey is precious and rare due to low supply from the wild jungles and not harvested on farms.
Hence, we all need to help preserve the bee colony so that both the ecosystem and honey supply are sustainable, as the world without bees will face serious environmental issues. Bees are the biggest pollinators in the world. 70% of the food and crops we have today are pollinated by bees. Without them, our food crops would be in trouble.
How has the pandemic changed you, your perspective, or the way you operate?
(Paul) It was challenging, but we are thankful and blessed that our business managed to survive and even thrived. The pandemic has led us down a new path of exploring two new markets that were not in our initial plan, which is the e-commerce and gifting segment. These two new segments prove profitable and help increase our revenue stream.
What’s something you’d like people to know about being a honey specialist as a profession?
(Ashley) Being a responsible honey specialist is a fine balance between being commercially viable and accountable to the ecosystem at the same time. At Jungle House, we believe in purpose over profit. We help the indigenous community sell their harvested honey and improve the ecosystem, protecting the world by teaching the right bee-keeping methods to save the ecosystem through bee population protection. Meanwhile, we educate the public about honey being a superfood and a natural remedy for many health problems.
What’s your view on the honey business scene in KL?
(Paul) Many Malaysians still think honey is something to be only consumed during sickness. But we wish to let everyone know honey should be something we consume regularly or even daily to make us healthier, stronger, and give us more energy for daily life. While there are many types and brands of honey in the market, not all honey is created the same. Consumers have to be aware and careful to buy their honey from genuine and responsible suppliers to ensure that their honey is of pure and high quality without any adulteration.
What practices do you currently implement or hope to implement in the future to work towards social responsibility and sustainability?
(Paul) Firstly, we wish to educate the public about the importance of honeybees to our ecosystem, and instead of fearing them or trying to destroy them whenever one comes across a beehive in or nearby their home, they can call for help to relocate the beehive instead as both human and bees need each other for their respective survival. We hope to conduct talks and workshops to start educating people on this crucial subject. As of now, Jungle House has a BeeHive Loyalty Program, and it has launched the Bee Green campaign, which moot the idea of consuming honey responsibly and doing our part to conserve the environment in order for bee colonies to thrive.
We also wish to work with beekeepers and bee hunters to teach them the right method of harvesting honey without hurting the bee’s colony and ecosystem. And, we hope through the business, the profession of beekeeping, and bee hunting could be passed down to the next generation.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
(Ashley) We are currently doing R&D for the menu that uses honey as one of the key ingredients to expand choices. We hope to serve more innovative honey products such as new honey with tea drinks, honey desserts, light bites, snacks, and new honey gifts.