“The life of an entrepreneur is always an adventure so make sure to surround yourself with those who lift you up when life gets tough. My biggest advice is don’t be afraid to start. If you never start there will always be a what if.”
We all hear that beeswax food wraps are great alternative to plastic food wraps. But, do they actually work? Honestly, the VOICE household has tried a brand of beeswax wrap before, but it was difficult to maintain and had a short life. Then we meet Nature Bee – the one that we find really works, easy to use and it makes you smile with all extra goodness that come with it!
Nature Bee is a female owned sustainable small business on Vancouver Island. They make reusable beeswax food wraps that help you eliminate single use plastics from your household. In just 3 years since the company’s establishment in 2018, the founder and Queen Bee, Katie Gamble, and her worker bees have accomplished a lot of things, not just producing great products for the planet but also empowering the community.
Nature Bee was a final business project in Katie’s last semester of her Commerce Degree at the Gustavson School of Business. She started making beeswax wraps by hand in her parent’s basement. Katie soon realized that this passion project would turn in to something much more and have an impact on the plastic pollution problem.
From the start, her core values have always sit on Sustainability, Community, Education and Impact. As she spent almost a year working in her parent’s basement, building the community base and online presence, the company since then has grown into a full scale operation: employing 10 all-female staff in a much bigger manufacturing facility. Giving Back is also a very important focus in their business. When they choose to support some charitable organizations, they go above and beyond. They typically donate up to 20% of their sales to charities like Lalmba Canada, who work to empower youth in Kenya and Mamas for Mamas, a national charity organization that supports mother and caregivers in poverty-related crisis.
This year, they have just launched a sister company and sustainable cleaning brand, Nature Bee Clean. Katie’s hive is continuing to grow and creating positive buzz in the community. VOICE asks the secret behind her success story.
VOICE(V): “What motivated you to start a business and has sustainability always been your passion ?”
Katie(K) : “It really started with a passion of following the questions of how can I make a change, what kind of a change can I make and how can I empower someone? Growing up, my passion has always been working with people with disabilities. That is what brings me joy, getting to support them and making them be part of the community like any other individuals. Then, I am now discovering that I can form a company that is now supporting so many other things and empowering people. I don’t want people to feel “eco-anxiety”, where they feel like they have to make every single change in their life in order to be sustainable. We have one amazing product that leads to empower, educate, build a community and be sustainable.”
V: “Tell us about your beeswax wraps. How are they different from other brands?”
K: “We trialed so many different types of fabrics, different thicknesses, organic or non-organic…. We wanted to make sure that it had thick enough layer so that cottons wouldn’t be pocking through and it would last long. It had to be pliable enough so that people are not cracking the wax when they are folding it. It also needed to be sticky enough so that so when you are wrapping, it would not come undone. We spend almost a whole year of trials and errors on different formulas and with lots of customer feedbacks, we finally solidify the formula. There are lots of similar products on the market, but ours is a high quality product that is made from really good, all organic ingredients. Our handcrafted wraps are 100% organic cotton, Vancouver Island-sourced beeswax, sustainable sourced pine tree resin from a small family farm in Quebec and organic jojoba oil.
Our wraps are also customizable. We have worked with many corporations such as Lush, allowing them to showcase their brand’s commitment to sustainability and reducing plastic waste.”
V: “Any tips for first-time users and keeping the product longer?”
K: “Just don’t wash it in hot water! It will literally wash the wax base off. Also, refreshing it every 6 to 12 months by ironing will help it last longer. I have a how to video on this, but when the wrap starts to crack, place it between 2 pieces of parchment paper and iron. The wax will melt back into those cracks. If you take good care of it, our wrap typically lasts for 9 to 12 months. Some people use it for a good couple of years.”
V: “When was your first time using beeswax wrap?”
K: “It was in France when I was on overseas education program by my business school. I was like, ‘This is cool!’ I tried to make one as soon I came back home.”
V: “What happens to the end of life product?”
K: “First, I would suggest to use it as a fire starter for bonfire or fireplace in the house. Second, I would repurpose it by cutting it up and use as twist ties in the garden. Lastly, you can just compost it and it would degrade naturally.”
V: “What is your biggest joy being Queen Bee of the company?”
K: “My employees are the biggest thing. I come to work everyday and I know that they enjoy what they are doing. Being able to empower other females and employ people in diversity is really rewarding for me. Also, it is such a joy to genuinely see the difference we are making. We are reducing plastic waste and we are influencing others in positive social changes.”
V: “What is your vision for the future of the company?”
K: “We just launched a sustainable cleaning company called Nature Bee Clean in July 2021. It offers plastic free concentrated multi-purpose cleaning tablets. Instead of paying for a plastic bottle filled with liquid soap, you just buy one glass bottle that you use for over and over and just refill tablets.
We foresee lots of expansion and lots of Custom Wrap collaborations in the future. We just started shipping to Europe, which is huge for us. After the pandemic, we want to open up our hive and share what we are doing with everyone as well. We are passionate about educating people on how they can make a difference by choosing one easy sustainable alternative.”