Four couples. One house. All honey.
That was the simple concept of the Honey House, an adult TikTok dwelling nestled in the Hollywood Hills that has amassed over 515,000 followers and garnered nearly 16 million likes since launching in August. Their most-viewed video has been watched 26.5 million times.
The group of of content creators went viral in September when a video breaking down the members' jobs—including a "mindset and motivation coach" and "models and fitness trainers" who alternate between working out and doing photoshoots all day—was dubbed "sincerely the worst thing ive ever seen" on Twitter.
While the video dumbfounded many, it also was deeply fascinating, answering a social-media-age-old question: What the hell do influencers really do all day?
And that is the allure of Honey House, with founder and former professional hockey player-turned-fitness influencer J.T. Barnett giving followers (and hate-watching non-followers, to be honest) a glimpse into this Oz-like nirvana, filled with sponsored goodies and hopscotch challenges during its first season.
While TikTok houses were already a trend before the coronavirus pandemic, the fascination with the groups has only grown since social distancing protocols were put into place, with each one developing their own signature brand of content.
The Hype House dances. The Sway House parties. And the Honey House—made up of J.T., Nick Dio, Sami Clarke, Erin Falter, Evan Betts, Dina Khoury, Nick Pags and Beatriz Boas—meditates.
"Our brand is a health and wellness focus, and I know people identify with fitness as, like, moving your physical body, but wellness for me encompasses also, like, community, and caring for others, and spreading positivity and kindness," J.T. explained in a phone interview with E! News. "So we wanted to embody all of that into a brand and into the house. So, all of the content that comes underneath that identity is things like lighthearted challenges, tips and tutorials on how to move your body more properly, or how to sit and meditate at a beginner level."
J.T., 29, and Nick came up for the idea for the Honey House when the pandemic derailed many of their plans, including J.T.'s newly launched Reset, a wellness festival. (Think Coachella but with IV drips and collagen shots instead of flower crowns and food trucks.)
"We were in quarantine and I was telling him that I was just really missing people and he brought up the idea to me, 'You know, I've been seeing a lot of these TikTok houses and these communal living houses, is there any chance that you would want to quarantine together?' J.T. recalled. "And, I was like, 'Dude, I would absolutely love to do that, what if we got a bunch of people in a house and we filmed it as a reality TV show?'"
The reality TV show idea was ultimately scrapped because the pair "had no interest" in the amount of drama that would need to be produced to sell it. Breathwork over bitchfights. Fitness over fistfights.
Instead, they decided to assemble a group of like-minded people who all sort of knew each other and do it in a different way, aiming for "more like a Modern Family mixed with Real World mixed with Well+Good," referencing the popular wellness website.
While Honey House does take its mindfulness mission quite seriously, the members do seem somewhat in on the joke, knowing how many may perceive this assortment of 20-somethings living in a house and producing content for consumption on an app dominated by Gen-Z meme-generators. Their TikTok bio calls it "oldest house on TikTok.")
But the signature aspect that helped Honey House stand out among the other TikTok dwellings? All of the members are in couples.
J.T., for example, is dating Sami, a fitness influencer with 319,000 Instagram followers. Co-founder Nick, a brand strategist, is paired with e-comm specialist Erin. Evan, an NYC-based fitness coach, is partnered up with fitness model Dina, while motivational speaker Nick is in a relationship with mindset coach Beatriz.
JT is hoping to "really dive" into these pairings and "showcase them on a deeper level" in the upcoming season, he explained.
"In season one, you can only do so much when you're trying to wear a ton of hats," he said. "So the content that we were able to put out was the ones that we ended up getting around to, but I have a handful of different concepts that we're coming up with now that will really show a little bit more personality from each of the couples, and kind of dive into who they are and what they do and what they represent."
While the house is currently "casting" new members to bring in for season two, J.T. admitted it's "not easy" to add people to the mix for several reasons—and not just because of COVID-19.
"We have to work with other people's schedules and what's going on with them, we're mindful of that," he explained. "We're also trying to do the best that we can to get people that are like-minded and that are open to jumping into this endeavor, because, like, going into a house with people for 30 days, even people that you do know is challenging. But going into a house with people that you don't know everything about and you're having to make new relationships and also go through what's going on in the world, it's something that can be challenging for people."
He continued, "You really have to have a group of people that are willing to communicate and really willing to be vulnerable with one another and put themselves in a situation that isn't easy. I probably am more proud of that than I am of what the output was on social, because in that house, there was just so much cohesiveness and so much understanding and empathy and kindness."
For now, though, the focus is on the current "members of our house and building our platform up to a place where it is recognizable, and we are bringing a lot of value to people's day to day," J.T. shared.
And they plan to do that by doing what they do best: emphasizing health and wellness along in addition to producing lighthearted challenges.
"Some more workouts, some more breathing or meditation type segments," J.T. teased for what could be ahead. "Whether that's a conversation where a couple is sitting with a therapist or a guidance counselor, or just talking about real issues, or real things that are coming up for them and just kind of having a real conversation."
—reporting by Spencer Lubitz