HoneyBee Sage, the West Side apothecary and metaphysical shop at 9141 W. Lisbon Ave., will be expanding its reach soon with a second location in the Halyard Park neighborhood.
The new HoneyBee Sage Apothecary & Herbal Beverage Lounge, which is slated to open its doors later this spring at 1819 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., will offer not only a retail space filled with herbs, medicinal tisanes, clean body products, metaphysical healing tools and other wellness products, but also a non-alchoholic herbal beverage lounge where guests can gather, relax and enjoy delicious drinks that are delicious as they are nourishing for the body and soul.
A personal journey to wellness
For HoneyBee Sage owner Angela Mallett – a certified massage therapist, reiki healer, full circle doula and yoni steam practitioner – establishing herself as a knowledgeable community herbalist was all part of a wellness journey which began when Mallett was just a young girl.
“I grew up with a variety of health concerns,” she says, “And so I became very in tune with my body from a young age.”
Her awareness prompted her to conduct independent research, ask questions and advocate for her health. When answers were vague or her concerns dismissed, she found herself prompted to explore both traditional and nontraditional forms of healing. It also complemented her interest in pursuing a career as a massage therapist.
After being laid off from a human services job in 2009, she says she moved on to an administrative position at Froedtert Hospital. While she was there, she says, she was inspired to enroll in coursework for massage therapy at the (former) Lakeside School of Massage, a landmark near one of her aunt’s homes, which she says had called out to her since she was a girl.
“I watched so many people come into the hospital with idiopathic chronic pain,” she says. “And it really fueled my passion as I moved through school. I wanted to give people an alternative to traditional medicine and the pharmaceutical drugs that were so often presented as their only alternative.”
After graduating from Lakeside School of Massage, she says her world expanded as she began delving into the notion of healing with food. She moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she eventually started her own massage practice, but also connected with a variety of herbal practitioners who assisted her in building her knowledge.
“When my lease in Tennessee came to an end, a friend urged me to move home to Milwaukee and start a business here,” she says. “Ultimately, my friend’s path led her in a different direction, but I opened my first shop at Sherman Phoenix.”
Mallett named her business in homage to honeybees, miraculous creatures which move and work in community, fostering and protecting their youth and sustaining their hives. Ruled by the queen, Mallett says they are also emblematic of the matriarchies found in African communities, which capitalize on collective knowledge and community.
In turn, her community – composed of customers and team members – have taken on the moniker "HoneyBees." And as team members advance, they graduate to become sages who share their herbal wisdom with others.
“This is a celebration of how our community moves and operates together,” she says. “And it’s built on the hope that we can empower one another.”
Healing for everyone
When Mallet launched HoneyBee Sage Wellness & Apothecary in the bank vault space at Sherman Phoenix, 3536 W. Fond Du Lac Ave., in 2018, it marked the culmination of years of education and training in health, wellness and herbal knowledge. But it also marked a step forward in assuaging the dearth in access to safe spaces for natural healing.
Not unexpectedly, demand was strong, and just two years later Mallett made the decision to relocate the business to its current location on Lisbon Avenue, a property which not only included a storefront, but a residence and production space. Ultimately, it fulfilled all but one of her longheld hopes.
“Our goal has always been to have a place where people could sit down, enjoy a drink and share information with one another,” says Mallett, noting that the ability to create such a space was part of her motivation for expanding to a second location.
“I’d always wanted to have a location on MLK Drive, not only because it was a beautiful thought to establish a Black business on such an historic stretch in the community and because I’ve always had hope to bridge the divides in our city. But I also feel that the location is central and fitting for the demographic I want to reach.”
The location, which offers access to not only the surrounding area, but also Downtown, Brewers’ Hill, Riverwest and the East Side, struck her as central to creating a diverse wellness community.
“No matter one’s race, sexuality, economic status… we all want healing when we hurt,” she says. “And I want this to be a space where people can feel comfortable gathering with that healing in mind.”
Building good energy
Thanks to assistance from JCP Construction, KWK Electric, Antonio Bonds of Bonds Enterprises, Holliman & Laster Plumbing, Mallett’s new apothecary and herbal beverage lounge is beginning to take shape. As it does, it will transform into a multi-faceted space that accommodates shopping, classes and workshops, socialization, relaxation, live music and wisdom sharing.
The shop itself will reflect natural elements, from warm wood to exposed cream city brick. Honeycomb shaped planters filled with greenery will hang from the ceiling.
The apothecary will showcase shelves filled with both nutritional and medicinal herbs, along with clean body care products, stone jewelry, tinctures and other wellness products.
“The air will be fragrant with the smells of herbs and incense,” says Mallett. “And the energy will be good because we’ll surround ourselves with precious stones, pieces of the earth that carry energy.”
There will be a lounge area near the front of the shop where customers can relax with a cup of tea or other beverage.
Seating will also be available at a few two-tops as well as tables with bench-style seating along the southern wall next to the bar.
“I want you to come with your laptop. Come with your book,” says Mallett. “Tune out the noise and settle into a space that’s created to be healthy.”
Mallett says that, as time moves forward, she would also like to add a small grocery area featuring fresh local products, grab and go items and ingredients for charcuterie and cheese boards. She also hopes to activate the green space next to the building, perhaps even adding her own apiary.
Elevation without intoxication
Mallett says that the element of the new location that she is most excited about is the non-alcoholic bar.
“It’s being built in honor of my father,” she says. “He was a beautiful human. But his relationship with alcohol challenged all of his other relationships, including ours. When I started at the Sherman Phoenix, he never saw the space. He was hospitalized and passed away due to complications related to his alcohol consumption. So, I want this to be a celebration of his life, even in light of that struggle.”
Mallett herself gave up drinking when she was 25 years old after experiences with alcohol left her feeling less than her best self. And she hopes to provide a space for others who are motivated to eschew alcohol, either temporarily or permanently.
At the bar, guests will find herbal tisanes and teas, cold tea drinks, kombucha and hand-crafted non-alcoholic beverages which incorporate fresh juices, non-alcoholic spirits (such as The Optimist, Seedlip), house syrups, herbal tinctures, bitters (both alcohol and glycerin-based), along with products from other local businesses.
Mallett says they also hope to offer a true tea shop experience, including education about brewing temperatures, the impacts of tea on the body and the benefits that it offers.
“We won’t serve food,” she says, “But we do hope to eventually work with caterers or food businesses who do not have brick and mortar locations of their own.”
Mallett is quick to point out that HoneyBee Sage has found success not only because of her own efforts, but those of her team, customers and – most of all – her family.
“My mother, Dorothy, and my stepdad, Bill, have been my anchors," she says. "They’ve been a tremendous help at all of our locations, helping with build-outs and offering support. And my brother, Tommy, has handled all of our technology, allowing us to offer online sales.”
Mallett says, if she has her way, she'd love to open her doors to the public on April 3.
“It was both the day my father transitioned after his battle with alcoholism and his mother’s birthday,” she says. “So, it's a special day for me. And I’m working as hard as I can to make that happen.”
Mallet says the MLK Drive location is likely to have abbreviated hours to start, but ultimately she would like to be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the week and 9 a.m. to midnight on weekends. The apothecary and lounge will also be available for private events for up to 50 guests.
Give HoneyBee Sage a boost
Want to support Mallett’s work and the build-out for the new apothecary and herbal beverage lounge? You can. Just head to her crowdfunding page at ifundwomen.com All funds contributed will support costs associated with construction, equipment furnishing, inventory and other start-up costs.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.