SUSSEX – A New Brunswick woman’s side hustle is helping more people do away with plastic wrap.
Megan Clarke is the creator of Bees Louise Handmade Products. Using beeswax from her own hive and others in the area, she’s made a variety of products, but by far her most popular have been her food wraps.
Bees Louise food wraps are made with 100 per cent cotton and local beeswax. The biodegradable and washable wraps use the warmth your hands to wrap around bowls, jars, snacks, cheese and more, keeping it fresher, longer. With proper care, one wrap can last up to a year.
“People want to get away from [plastic] but they don’t know how to do it. This is a pretty accessible and affordable way to make one little change,” says Clarke. “I find that when people just make one little change, they start to notice how much plastic in the run of the day they’re using. If I can help do that, that makes me pretty happy.”
Clarke started working with beeswax about four years ago when her dad took an interest in bees. He wanted to get some of his own, so they decided to take some beekeeping courses being offered nearby.
“In the meantime, he built everything for us,” says Clarke. “He’s super into the beekeeping part of it, while I was more thinking of the things that I could do.”
One day while looking through a book about different things you can make with beeswax, Clarke came across the food wraps.
“There was this book my father had got with all these different things you can make and there was this wax-coated fabric. It was really plain. It didn’t even catch my eye it was so plain looking,” she says. “Then I read about it and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s cool. I like textiles and different fabrics anyway. I could totally make these, but make them really pretty and unique.’ ”
Clarke started selling her wraps at the M Gerald Teed Memorial School Christmas Market a few years back, along with other beeswax products she made such as lip balms.
“Nobody really knew what [the wraps] were. The lip balms basically started everything and then people started noticing the wax wraps and then they shot off the next year,” she says.
“This year has been the craziest year ever.”
In addition selling at local markets and through orders on its Facebook page, Bees Louise wraps are sold through retailers across the Maritimes, including the Tare Shop in Halifax, Craftlogy in Saint John and Sequoia in Dieppe.
“Usually, Christmas was my crazy time, but since last Christmas, it’s been pretty steady,” says Clarke.
Bees Wax wraps have gained popularity across North America over the last few years, with other entrepreneurs and companies making and selling their own. But despite the popularity and high demand for her product, Clarke says she doesn’t plan on leaving her day job in early childhood intervention any time soon. But she would like to grow enough to rent a separate space to make the wraps.
“I really love my job, so I would be really hesitant [to leave]. I think I can do both,” she says. “My biggest goal right now would be to get a space, because I’m just in my house. If I had a space with everything that I need, I think it would help the entire situation. I think I can still manage everything just fine while working.”
Though there may be some competition out there from bigger companies and brands, Clarke believes her product still stands out and has strong support in the local market, where she plans to stay.
“I feel I have a unique product and my fabrics are always changing and I have a good selection of sets. I’m easy to work [for] people that want to order whatever they want,” she says. “It’s been a really nice way to interact with people. Keeping it smaller and keeping it local is more my style.”
Her advice for those looking to start their own side hustle? Just do it, even if you start small.
“Try it. It doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. You don’t have to spend a ton of money. Just start really small and it’s insane the support and the growing support for local business in New Brunswick,” says Clarke. “There are people that want to support you and you can start as small as you want. You don’t have to dive into something gigantic.”
Though things can be crazy busy at times, Bees Lousie isn’t something Clarke views as “work.”
“I love doing it because I can express myself in any way that I want. I can change it in any way that I want. I can do whatever I want,” she says. “It’s just an expression of me, which is a really nice side gig.”