How another ND Business has faced the pandemic

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Tara Whelan and Vanessa McRostie have been producing Hive Vibe Beeswax Wraps for two years now. They are a reusable, eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap or bags. Naturally antibacterial and anti fungal, they keep food fresher for longer. They help retain the flavour of food, and help it last longer. They can be used anywhere you formerly used plastic wrap or bags: wrapping up leftovers, packing lunches, or storing baked goods. They are produced in small batches with natural ingredients.

Vanessa and Tara, friends for years, loved to craft together. They are both eco-conscious in their daily lives, and regularly share ideas. They would come across an idea, then get together to bake it or make it. One year they discovered beeswax food wraps, loved them, and made them for family and friends for Christmas. The recipients loved them, and the business began there, but they were still surprised when they sold out of their first batch in a day!

They started with a Facebook page, but since have expanded to have their own website, serving customers from all over Canada. They sell online at www.hivevibewraps.com, as well as at makers’ markets and farmers’ markets. Their products are stocked in local stores and cafes, and they also supply stockists directly. They have participated in some Pop-Up Shops in the area. As I have heard so often, the businesses in the area work together to support one another.

Tara and Venessa have their own bees! They do truly source locally! Vanessa knows more about beekeeping, but teaches Tara as they go along. Tara says it’s an awesome experience, and one of the coolest things they’ve ever done. The by-product is pretty sweet too! They source their fabric locally, and shopping for fabric is one of their favourite parts of the business. Reigning in their enthusiasm, and not buying all the bright, fun fabrics, is a challenge.

The pandemic cancelled most of the markets and shows in 2020. Tara and Vanessa went from selling at a market every other weekend, to participating in the very few that managed to go on throughout the year. They felt the effects of the pandemic, but the fact that they were already online, and had a strong online and social media presence, helped. They were able to reach out to customers to sell and promote. Some markets shifted to a virtual presence, such as mylocalmarkets.ca. They found some new stockists who wanted their beeswax wraps. When people realised they could only shop online, Tara and Vanessa were already there! Customer support, from individuals, stockists, and other businesses got them through the year. Sharing information and support online, commenting and sharing social media posts, and customer referrals are the core of the small business right now. Businesses rallied around each other, sharing ideas and supporting one another. Business owners shared their creativity. Collaboration with other businesses have been a mainstay too. They have supplied subscriptions boxes. One business they work with curates a box of all local products, which helps support and promote local. Another offers a Zero-Waste Starter Box, filled with zero-waste products to help start a person out on their eco-friendly, zero-waste journey. Both contribute to sustainability.

Sustainability and working towards an eco-friendly, zero-waste lifestyle did not go out of style during the pandemic. Being at home more provided people with the opportunity to figure out where they could make more eco-friendly choices in their everyday lives. Introducing Hive Vibe Wraps into their daily lives helped to reduce single-use plastics, and there was a lot of bread being made that needed wrapping up!

Sourcing locally meant that their supply chain was not as vulnerable to shortages as it could have been. Homemade maskmakers were buying out the big chain stores of cotton fabric, but already having a local supply chain meant less disruption. Using local and Canadian suppliers has been a priority from the beginning. They go through more beeswax than they can produce from their own hives, but they source from local apiaries. The beekeepers love Hive Vibe Wraps, and send a lot of customers to Tara and Vanessa.

Sustainability is the basis of Hive Vibe. They believe that small, achievable eco-changes make a big difference in our move towards sustainable living. Vanessa and Tara have worked hard to make their lifestyles more sustainable. They suggest making small, everyday eco-choices, like carpooling, community gardens, reusable grocery and produce bags, and obviously packing on-the-go lunches and snacks in their locally made beeswax wraps. They remind us that it takes 100s of bees working together to make a strong hive community; sustainable living doesn’t have to be complicated or extreme.

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