At Nature Bee, we manufacture reusable Beeswax Food Wraps and sell other eco-friendly items, including our Swedish Dishcloths, concentrated Cleaning Tablets, and more! We are proud to be a female-owned and operated Canadian small business with incredibly impactful values. We are a small business making a big impact through Sustainability, Community, Education, and Impact. By combining a passion for giving back and global sustainability, we have created an inspiring and supportive organization. On the topic of diversity and inclusivity, here at Nature Bee, we provide a space for people of all abilities and backgrounds to learn, grow, and create. We are focused on helping others live a more sustainable life! We believe one small change has a major impact.
Tell us about yourself?
Growing up, Katie was highly involved, creating groups in high school that supported the less fortunate, which led to her finding her passion in working with people with disabilities. She is inclusive and accepting of all abilities and prides herself in her commitment to sharing this with others. While in her final semester at the Gustavson School of Business, she created a company called Nature Bee. Nature Bee was born out of a passion to create a community of like-minded individuals who are working towards creating a more sustainable world. What started as a school project developed into a small operation out of her parents’ basement. Soon after, she expanded into a manufacturing space with a small team of busy bees alongside her.
Her commitment to creating a diverse workplace where everyone is supported and empowered is truly inspiring. While fostering a positive work environment inside our office, you can see her commitment to the community. She supports local businesses like Country Bee Farm on Vancouver Island, where we source our beeswax.
As a natural entrepreneur, Katie is always looking for ways to provide innovative solutions to common problems. This led to the creation of Nature Bee cleaning tablets, where she has developed concentrated tablets for household cleaning solutions.
Anyone who has met Katie knows she is a kind-hearted, caring, and motivated individual who is passionate about her work and determined to make a difference. As she pursues her dreams to help eliminate plastic pollution, she does so with graceful leadership.
If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
The grind is worth it. Often times as entrepreneurs, we have to work longer than 40 hours a week and harder than we ever have to in order for our companies to be successful. During my first two years of operation, I would work between 10 to 14 hour days making wraps, emailing, and figuring out what I was doing. Now we have a buzzing beehive with 10 incredible staff, and I am starting to find more work-life balance. The other piece of advice I would give myself is to find mentors in a similar field and take part in all the activities that you are offered as long as they align with your values. I find that finding community support and mentorship has been really pivotal in these last two years! Also, love what you do. If you aren’t passionate about what you’re selling, then you will likely struggle to find that drive to keep going!
What problem does your business solve?
We have completely disrupted the food wrap and cleaning products industry. Nature Bee is passionate and committed to creating a better planet for everyone. Inspired by the belief that every small action has a large impact, we wanted to show others how simple, sustainable swaps could help them achieve that. Tired of using plastic wrap for food and adding to our landfills, Katie developed her own Beeswax Wraps in her parents’ basement.
Extending our lineup, our Swedish Dishcloths are made of plant cellulose and can hold up to 15 times their weight. This reusable paper towel alternative is perfect for the household, and it’s easy to clean and lasts six to nine months with proper care!
We have continued to evolve and offer new and innovative sustainable home goods, which led to the creation of Nature Bee Clean! We wanted to encourage people to minimize the waste associated with repurchasing cleaning products and help eliminate plastic bottles. Since 90 per cent of cleaning solutions are water, we allow our customers to purchase concentrated tablets to dissolve in water at home! Our concentrated tablets have revolutionized the cleaning industry and caught the attention of retail chains and media platforms.
In all three of these areas, we are solving the problem involved with plastic waste. We want to provide easy and simple alternatives for people’s everyday lives.
What is the inspiration behind your business?
Nature Bee was formed out of a passion to do something to help the environment and our community by combating the issue of single-use plastics. I know that the plastic problem is big, but our ability to make a change is bigger. Beyond plastic reduction, we have the ability at Nature Bee to give back to our community through initiatives. Community has always been at the forefront of everything that goes on with Nature Bee. We are so fortunate to have built a group of individuals who are as passionate and committed to creating a better planet for one another. Inspired by the belief that every small action has a large impact, we wanted to show others how simple, sustainable swaps could help them achieve that.
Further extending our efforts to our local community and sustainability-focused groups is something we are constantly working on. We have built partnerships with multiple organizations, many of which are ongoing. One of our partners is Mamas for Mamas, who receive a portion of proceeds from purchases to support their efforts in helping families who are struggling with poverty-related issues. We also work with Surfrider Vancouver Island by donating proceeds to help protect our oceans and beaches for everyone to enjoy. Throughout 2021, we were able to work with organizations big and small to help them achieve their goals and donated over $20,000. With COVID-19, it’s been hard to get our team out there to help our community, but we are fortunate to have participated in local activities such as beach clean-ups.
To us, the support the Nature Bee community continues to show us, whether it’s purchasing our products, engaging with our content, or sharing kind words, is more than we could ever ask for. We have fostered such a positive and encouraging environment in person and online, and we truly feel supported. This past summer, we announced the launch of our sister brand, Nature Bee cleaning tablets, and we were overwhelmed by the response. After selling out twice, we were able to grow its following to over 400K across social media platforms. We couldn’t have achieved this milestone without our community cheering us on.
It has been so rewarding to see Nature Bee evolve and households full of these simple, sustainable products that they use daily! We love hearing their feedback and all about their experiences to help us continue to create the best products we can. The best part is showing everyone how easy it can be to be a little more sustainable. Anyone who thinks they are too small to make a difference has never met a honeybee.
What is your magic sauce?
- Our story – Starting from my parents’ basement.
- Our community – What we have created in terms of a safe, inclusive, and supportive community is incredible.
- Our education – We are constantly providing our community with new and unique ways to change their habits without feeling overwhelmed.
- Our Impact – We are creating a company that focuses on a product with an impact. We are reducing plastic waste and providing a space for positivity and acceptance. We are also extremely proud to offer customized beeswax wraps and Swedish dishcloths, which extends our impact even further. This allows us to print the companies’ logos or designs onto our products, and then they can hand them out as swag, etc. They show their commitment to plastic reduction as well as sustainability.
What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?
I’m not a big fan of planning five years in advance, as being a small business, you need to be agile and flexible. There needs to be space to move and shift with the changing business and economic world. I just want our community, impact, and overall team culture to continue to grow and find success!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
As COVID-19 hit our small business, we had to cancel our small markets and change our efforts to focus online. We have always loved connecting in person and explaining our product, so this posed a large challenge. Before COVID-19, our goal was brand awareness, and we were doing very little online marketing. We were just beginning to understand our target markets and learning more about the advertising space and how we could benefit from it. We quickly realized that we would need to use educational techniques so that people could understand the benefits of our product and how it would help them. We launched new campaigns and really began to dive into the community we were creating.
We knew that many were struggling, and we wanted to give back. We launched major charity-driven campaigns, and it was a huge success. Our email list grew by thousands, and we were able to connect with customers on an entirely different level. We learned to switch everything to digital, and it was a huge learning curve, but it was the best pivot we could have had.
The pandemic was our largest challenge so far but also a huge part of our success! There will always be challenges when running a small business, and I am excited to learn from each one!