Mira’s Naturals creators, Mike and Meghann Reimondo, are a lot like bees but I’m not sure if they know this. I don’t even know when I first meet them and I’ve been researching the pair for two weeks.
Here’s what I do know: For a new company (they’ve been operational since 2014), they’re doing very well. Made in Woodstock, NY, their products are carried in twenty plus stores, as well as online. In a short amount of time, they’ve managed to set an example of what can be done using simple, natural ingredients and an insatiable drive to do for one’s own. From lip balms, deodorant, soaps, salves, and even candles, their gamut of products are impressive. Nothing has chemicals or preservatives. All ingredients are used in their natural unadulterated state. And better still, every item is under $20. But before I continue, a word about bees.
Bees live selfless lives. On average, a worker bee lives a mere six weeks but from the moment they leave the hive, their single goal is to forage for food, ensuring that those at home will survive. It’s all about family, you see.
Bees play a pivotal role in all of our lives but especially in Mike and Meghann’s. Along with being business owners, they’re also bee owners. Many products that Mira’s Naturals puts out features beeswax or honey from one of their seventeen hives, including two that are observational. And while there are many who have helped them on their road to success, the person who really started it all was Mira. She is who the company is named for and if Mike and Meghann are bees, then she is their queen. She is also their daughter.
“It all started when Mira was diagnosed with being on the Autism spectrum,” Mike says regarding beekeeping and their business. With Mira’s diagnoses also came research, eventually leading to a doctor who recommended giving her a gluten and yeast-free diet. Reading food labels suddenly became part of their daily lives, along with a more natural approach to living. They began to realize how greatly they, along with the rest of the country, had strayed from being a land of makers to quick fix consumers. Mike says, “I started looking around and realized we were typical Americans. We didn’t [make] anything. I liked the idea of getting into something where we could actually produce something.”
The pursuit of creating something useful led Mike to beekeeping. “It’s versatile,” he explains. And he’s right. Along with honey being a sweetener with actual nutrients, it has also been shown to have a variety of medicinal effects. And of course, beeswax can be used to create many different products. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Mike vividly remembers the year he went with his son on a field trip and had the opportunity to stand in a midst of bees while they were transitioning homes. Slipping on the protective gear and approaching the group, he found himself experiencing something that was frightening, beautiful, and awe inspiring. “There were like thirty thousand bees,” he says, his face lightening in remembrance of the transcendental memory. “The powerfulness and peacefulness of a hive that’s swarming. When you’re in the middle…it’s so loud…It’s like standing in the middle of the thruway but at the same time you can pick a handful of bees in your bare hand.”
Unlike wasps, which are aggressive and territorial, bees don’t use their stingers unless they or their hive are in danger. While a hoard of buzzing bees may seem terrifying to an onlooker, it’s a time they’re most docile because they don’t have a home to protect. This is generally when those incredible photographs of people with bee beards are taken.
What was a flickering interest now burst forth, fiery and hot. Using equipment lent by friend, Matt Longyear, owner of the only operational farm in Woodstock, Long-Year Farm, they purchased two hives, promising themselves they’d invest whatever money made from honey sold back into the business. Not wanting to waste anything produced by the hives, they began making lip balms from leftover beeswax. Other products soon followed, many inspired by their customer’s personal requests.
Although products contain high quality ingredients, Mike and Meghann keep the price point low, more interested in giving the public access to natural goods than turning a buck. Some items are so pure that they are actually edible. The pair confided during our meeting that one of their customer’s admitted to smearing one of their body butters on their baguettes instead of traditional spread. We can’t blame them. The ingredients are pretty yummy.
The facial scrub ($12) is composed of raw honey, cinnamon, raw sugar, and nutmeg. And while we love its delicious elements we really love how the anti-inflammatory cinnamon and nutmeg work to stimulate blood flow, making skin appear more youthful.The Hand Sanitizing Spray ($10.50) includes clove, orange, and rosemary, as well as antibacterial tea tree oil, making it a lovely smelling natural alternative to other hand cleansers. In these chilly fall months, The Healing Salve ($13) is a must. It’s filled with moisturizing shea butter, canendula oil which heals cuts and cracked skin, and beeswax that reduces inflammation. And of course, you must check out their lip balm ($4). We highly recommend picking up a tube of the Rock City Red that uses alkanet root to give lips a nice ruby tint.
Part of the company’s success comes from the couple’s policy of not saying no to opportunities that come their way. They regularly participate in local events, like the Kingston Night Market, where they can meet their customers and share their products. It should be noted that they do this while also working full-time jobs; Mike at Central Hudson and Meghann for Partnership for Education, the same organization that provided services for Mira when she was younger. And along with these ventures and parenting Mira, they also have a son, Maximus, Who the Mending Hand and Paw Salve ($8) is named after. Needless to say, sleep is not something that happens in abundance. But if #thestruggleisreal, it is also worth it. “We keep moving forward,” Meghann says. “I’m really proud of what we do and to be able to partner with my husband. We bring out the best in each other.”
Along with running Mira’s Naturals, they also work to educate the public who have been supportive in providing feedback and spreading the word about their business. “We’re grateful to our community and how open they are and receptive,” says Meghann. “We’re so lucky to have people who care…It’s not just a labor of love for us but for our family and friends too.”
Along with disclosing all ingredients used in their products, Mike and Meghann provide directions and medicinal uses on their website. Mike also spends time at local schools, teaching kids about bees, farms, and the important role they both play in our society and world. “We’re not just about products,” Meghann says. “It’s much more about the community and being part of it.”
And it’s also about Mira, the queen, their daughter who sparked it all and who continues to motivate the couple. “We started the business aspect of this because of the future,” Meghann explains. “And we don’t know what the future holds. This is the plan b. [Mira’s Naturals] is here for her if she wants it; to facilitate her adulthood, whatever she needs.”
Meghann hopes to one day take Mira’s Naturals production outside of their home and into an operational facility. She’d also like to create a sister company that would serve as an educational and job training center for kids and adults with special needs. Until then, Mike and she will continue to work, much like the hives they nurture. Cheerfully, almost tirelessly, they build their business, making the difficult seem easy, all in the name of love. It’s all about family, you see.
To purchase products from Mira’s Naturals or to find a retailer near you, go to mirasnaturals.com.
Hudson Valley based writer.