The Sustainable Option to Plastic Wrap with Bee’s Wrap Sarah Kaeck

June 10, 2015

 
John Shegerian: Welcome back to Green Is Good. This is the Green Festival’s edition of Green Is Good, and we’re so excited to have with us today, Sarah Kaeck. Welcome to Green Is Good. Sarah Kaeck: Thank you. John Shegerian: You’re going to be talking about a topic that we’ve never discussed before. What’s the buzz about Bee’s Wrap? Sarah Kaeck: Well, Bee’s Wrap is an alternative to plastic wrap for food storage. John Shegerian: Tell us a little but about the Sarah Keck story, though, first – where you grew up, how you got involved with thinking about green sustainability and then the founding of your great company Bee’s Wrap? Sarah Kaeck: I grew up in Pennsylvania, and traveled after college and ended up in Vermont with my family. And there I was a stay-at-home mom for about 10 years. We grew all of our own vegetables, raised animals … John Shegerian: Was that something you were used to growing up? Or you decided you were going to raise your family sustainably? Sarah Kaeck: We decided that. I did not grow up that way. I grew up in the city, but I just really like the idea of the whole cycle of raising our own food and getting our food locally and doing things as naturally as possible. John Shegerian: And that’s how you guys were living? Sarah Kaeck: Yes, that’s how we were living. John Shegerian: And then where was the big epiphany for this beautiful, ingenious product? Sarah Kaeck: Well, we really needed a solution for storing our food without the use of plastic, particularly plastic wrap and plastic bags. We were aware of the use of cotton or fabric and wax – and wax has been used for a very long time for food storage – and so I started experimenting and playing with different ingredients and different ways of applying wax and found something that worked and went with it. John Shegerian: Unbelievable. So for our listeners out there, to learn more about Sarah’s great company Bee’s Wrap, you can go to www.beeswrap.com. So let’s talk about it, the idea. Who dreamed this up and how do you – you go from trying to think of alternatives to – who even came up with this? It’s okay that we can do this? Sarah Kaeck: Yeah. Well, they’re all-natural ingredients. John Shegerian: Yeah. Sarah Kaeck: Which makes it safe for food storage. It’s organic cotton fabric, beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. John Shegerian: But who invented it? Where did the invention come from? Sarah Kaeck: Well, there were a couple of different products on the market that had beeswax and cotton fabric that were being used for storage, and so we kind of took those ideas and made up our own formula and our own technique for applying the wax. And it really worked. It worked so well in our home, and we had such a great reception from friends and family, that we decided to turn it into a business. John Shegerian: That’s awesome. So when did you come up with this? What year did you really start working on the science behind and beta testing different recipes? Sarah Kaeck: We launched our product about two-and-a-half years ago, and then we started developing it a year before that. It took us about a year to get our technique down and our branding finalized so we could put it on the market. John Shegerian: And how is it exactly made? Sarah Kaeck: We started by painting the wax on by hand individually. John Shegerian: Wow. Sarah Kaeck: And now, we grew fairly quickly. We started a workshop on our property, and then realized that we needed a larger facility. We moved to the nearby town of Bristol, Vermont, and workshopped there where we developed a piece of equipment that waxes whole rolls of fabric. John Shegerian: Wow. And you launched it on your website first? Sarah Kaeck: Yes. Our website first. John Shegerian: And then, now, are you starting to spread to retailing stores? Sarah Kaeck: We are, all over the U.S. and beyond. John Shegerian: Really? Sarah Kaeck: Yeah. John Shegerian: So our listeners can find this at retailers or on your website, and they buy it like this? Sarah Kaeck: Yes. So we have a list of all of our stock, it’s on our website and we sell it in a variety of different sizes and packages. There’s a small, medium and large three-pack, which is the most popular. It gives you a variety. John Shegerian: And what are the key ingredients? I’m holding it and it feels like … it feels like amazing. It feels really good in my hand. Sarah Kaeck: It does. John Shegerian: What is in this? Sarah Kaeck: So it’s organic cotton fabric infused with a beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin mixture. The jojoba oil and the tree resin help to keep the beeswax from cracking, so it keeps it nice and supple, making it easily reused again and again. John Shegerian: So this feels like a sandwich. Sarah Kaeck: That is a sandwich, and that is our sandwich wrap. I can show you how it works. John Shegerian: Please. Yes. Sarah Kaeck: So you just – it has a little hemp twine and a wooden bee button. It makes a great placemat, so when you take your sandwich to work or to school and set it on the table. And then when you take it home at night, you can just wipe it off with a cloth and reuse it the next day. John Shegerian: And I can reuse it the next day. How many times can I reuse something like that? Sarah Kaeck: We say it lasts for about a year, using three to four times a week. It will get nice and soft and supple, and then at the end of its life you’ll know when you need a new one. John Shegerian: And how do you clean it when you want to clean it. Sarah Kaeck: You wash it in cool water, with a little dish soap if you need it, and then hang to dry. The important piece of that is cool water. You don’t want to melt the wax, so it does need to stay away from heat. John Shegerian: I see another use for it here, so what are the other uses besides sandwiches? Sarah Kaeck: The warmth of your hand softens the wax just enough that you can create a seal on the top of a bowl. It’s great for wrapping cheese. It’s also great for things like half of a cucumber, half of a lemon, avocado, a cabbage. John Shegerian: Everything we used to use plastic for. Sarah Kaeck: Exactly, yeah. John Shegerian: Wow. Sarah Kaeck: So we also have an extra-large bread wrap, which is great for a good sized loaf of bread. It’s also great for wrapping greens like chard and kale or herbs like cilantro, it keeps them really nice and fresh. John Shegerian: Wow. So what happens after – it’s the end of the year and it’s come to its end of life: Are these recyclable? Sarah Kaeck: They are biodegradable, compostable. You can cut it up and put it in your compost. John Shegerian: Perfect. So they go right back into the ecosystem then? Sarah Kaeck: They do, yes. John Shegerian: No harm, no plastic into the ocean or into a landfill or anything like that. Sarah Kaeck: Exactly. John Shegerian: How is it going, and is this all out of your husband’s and family’s money? Or have you raised money for this and are you going to raise money to continue to grow the brand? What is in store in the months and years ahead now? Sarah Kaeck: We grew very organically. We have a couple of new fabric designs coming out in May, which is pretty exciting. John Shegerian: That’s exciting. Sarah Kaeck: Yeah. We’ve got a clover and a geometric design. We’ve got lots of ideas. It’s limitless. John Shegerian: And when you were putting this together, how did you know – who is the scientist or engineer who helped you come up with the chemistry for this? Sarah Kaeck: I did this myself. John Shegerian: Yourself? Sarah Kaeck: Yeah. We played around with it and just kind of figured out what would work the best together. Moving into the equipment and creating this piece of equipment to produce the wraps was a big project for us. John Shegerian: Who designed that? How did you figure out the equipment to do it on a mass and commercialized basis? Sarah Kaeck: So I worked some with my father, who is an entrepreneur, and he has helped me immensely in this project. John Shegerian: Wow. Sarah Kaeck: And then when it was time, we brought in an engineer to finalize our design and make it into a reality. John Shegerian: Besides your online business, which I assume has grown a lot, when you meet with retailers, how is it being received by the buyers at retail places? Sarah Kaeck: It’s been great. We’ve had a really, really great reception. We sell to all different types of stores: gift stores, coops, health food stores, kitchen stores, bee product stores. It does a lot better in a smaller, more specialty store, because it is such a new product. But we’ve also done great in a few of the chain stores, like Mom’s Markets and The Mid-Atlantic does great with our product. John Shegerian: Really? Sarah Kaeck: So it’s a large cross section. John Shegerian: And coming to the Green Festival you were looking to spread the word to both your customers – potentially – and also retailers to carry it? Sarah Kaeck: Yes, exactly. John Shegerian: And how have the last three days been? Has it turned out to be what you wanted? Sarah Kaeck: Oh, it’s been beyond what we expected. We’ve had a great reception to our product. It’s been very busy. We actually sold out today which was great. John Shegerian: Wow. Sarah Kaeck: It’s been really, really fun. John Shegerian: That is awesome. And where do you source the cotton and the beeswax and the jojoba oil? How did you figure out where to sustainably acquire all your feedstock? Sarah Kaeck: Our fabric comes from India. It’s GOT certified. Our beeswax comes from the U.S. – we get most of it from the high desert, which is one of the cleanest places to sources beeswax in the U.S., from sustainably kept hives, which is very important to us. We use organic jojoba oil, and then the tree resin. John Shegerian: So all of your products going in are all sustainable and organic products. Sarah Kaeck: Yes. John Shegerian: And then this is fully compostable at its end of life. Sarah Kaeck: That’s right. It also makes great fire starter. John Shegerian: Wow. That is awesome. So talk a little bit about, Sarah, the future of Bee’s Wrap. Sarah Kaeck: Well, we would love to see Bee’s Wrap become commonplace in the kitchen. It’s such a practical, easy solution to eliminating plastic wrap for food storage. John Shegerian: Why should we ever use plastic again, Sarah? Come on. Sarah Kaeck: Yeah, really. John Shegerian: I mean, really Sarah Kaeck: Yeah. It’s great. And seeing the reception that we had today, that doesn’t seem so unrealistic. John Shegerian: Right. Sarah Kaeck: So we would like to be able to offer it in varieties of sizes to meet every need, and all different types of solutions from little bags to pie covers to all different types of things, so we’re constantly working on developing new products that will fit every need in the kitchen. John Shegerian: You know, the world is democratized now in getting the word out. Do you do traditional advertising or do you leverage social media to help get the word out? Sarah Kaeck: We use a lot of social media, a lot of blogs’ reviews, that’s really how we got our product out there. Social media has been huge for us. John Shegerian: Got it. And for our listeners out there, to learn more about your product – will they also, on your website, be able to find where the retailers are selling it? Sarah Kaeck: Yes. John Shegerian: So they go to www.beeswrap.com. Sarah Kaeck: That’s right. John Shegerian: So they can either buy it directly from the website… Sarah Kaeck: That’s right. John Shegerian: Or they can type in a zip code locator or something and find a retailer. Sarah Kaeck: They can, exactly. John Shegerian: Wow, that’s wonderful. Sarah Kaeck: Yeah. John Shegerian: Final words from you for our audience. What would you like to share, before we say goodbye, on your experience and your journey as an ecopreneur? Sarah Kaeck: Wow, it’s been an amazing experience. I’ve been loving every minute of it, even the most intense moments as an entrepreneur, which there are a few. But it’s just great having a product that fits a niche that people are really enthusiastic about. I am thrilled with the public’s interest in having more environmentally sustainable habits. It’s been really great. John Shegerian: So when we see these large stories on CNN or other great news channel outlets talking about these massive plastic islands in the ocean, now we’ve got to think about Bee’s Wrap. Sarah Kaeck: You’ve got it. John Shegerian: Bee’s Wrap, Bee’s Wrap, no more plastic. Sarah Kaeck: You’ve got it. John Shegerian: Got it. Well, for our listeners out there, again, this was the Green Festival’s Edition of Green Is Good. This has been Sarah Keck with John Shegerian, talking about her great company, Bee’s Wrap. To learn more about Bee’s Wrap and where to buy it, go to www.beeswrap.com. You are an inspiring ecopreneur and truly living proof that Green Is Good.