Rows of hand-dyed onesies and t-shirts emblazoned with the DC flag line the walls of Honey Made (727 Eighth St. SE), illuminated by light streaming in through the windows. The love and care put into each item in the store is immediately apparent.
You’ll likely find the owner, Viboonrattana Honey (she goes by Moo), perched behind the register next to a vase of sunflowers. Her smile radiates through one of her handmade masks, screen printed with a DC flag.
Honey opened the doors to her new store on June 25, 2021, but her experience sewing and running a small business spans two decades. Shocked by the high prices when she lived in LA, Honey set out to learn to sew since she knew she could make cuter and more affordable goods. She used both her degree in applied physics and engineering and guidance from YouTube videos to do just that.
“My most famous product is my reversible dresses. When I first made it, it wasn’t working, and I was cutting everything in pieces!” she explained. “So, I had to bring my engineer thinking and figure out how to make it work.”
Honey started her business sewing onesies and reversable dresses (items that she still carries in Honey Made) and, inspired by a rapper she met on a plane, her brand Li’l Fishy was born.
You might recognize the name Li’l Fishy from Eastern Market — that is where Honey has been selling her gifts since arriving in DC ten years ago. At first, Honey nervously anticipated how the new neighborhood would receive her business. She remembered thinking, “LA is a very fashionable city but I didn’t know about DC.”
Honey was happy to find that Market-goers loved her handmade offerings. “Neighbors would ask me to make bigger and bigger sizes since their kids were growing up!” she said, laughing.
Last year, Honey decided she was ready to make the leap to open a brick-and-mortar store. As a Capitol Hill resident, she quickly identified Barracks Row as the place to be.
Honey Made Opens
Mid-pandemic is obviously not an ideal time to open a business, but Honey has been supported by locals who are thrilled to have a new gift shop in the neighborhood. The neighbors who had once eagerly waited for a bigger dress size for their daughters at her Eastern Market stall are now supporting Honey Made. “I survived because all of my customers who support small business,” she told me. “Before they bought my onesies, now they buy my masks. It has been wonderful—people just reach out and help.”
Honey says you can find something for anybody in her store. It is cheerfully stocked with RBG and DC tee shirts, a selection of women’s and children’s dresses, jewelry, notecards, zippered pouches, wallets, and lotions. You will even find Honey’s daughter’s own line of products, Miss BB. Many shoppers will be happy to hear Honey’s views on clothing colors: “I don’t like pink stuff for girls.”
A purchase from Honey Made supports more than this new business—it supports a network of creators and small business owners. While most of the items are made by Honey herself (featuring adorable, screen-printed art from drawings she did while babysitting in LA), Honey Made also sells items made by Honey’s friends, both those from across the country and many of the Eastern Market vendors she has worked alongside.
I asked Honey about starting her business during the pandemic. “If I don’t try, I will always ask, what if,” she replied.
In addition to constantly changing her stock to reflect the seasons, Honey has more ideas for ways to connect with the community in the future. Teaching her daughter to sew during the pandemic inspired her to think about ways to offer sewing lessons to adults and children. She also hopes to host art shows in the store with music and evening art openings.