Kirstie Allsopp's Handmade Fair 2018 was something of a turning point for us, as we had a larger space than we are accustomed to, and it gave us a far greater scope for really chatting to our customers. We had room to display our beekeeping story including a protective suit, which one young visitor wore with pride around the marquee! People are absolutely fascinated by bees and we never tire of sharing our knowledge of them or of learning more as we discover new details about their skills. Many ask about predators such as Varroa mite and Asian Hornets, and the threat of pesticides, which is encouraging as it shows that public awareness is increasing.
Keeping it Local
As our hives are within flying distance of the Fair, visitors were fascinated to hear that our bees would also be visiting as they’d likely be foraging in and around the Royal Parks. We met many familiar customers from local farmers’ markets, but many more were from farther afield, and were intrigued by our “local beekeepers to International award-winning skincare range” story. Having won several National and International Skincare Industry awards in 2018, including being awarded ‘Best Hand Cream’ competing with household-name entrants, we found plenty to talk about.
As designer-makers we love to mix with fellow crafts people, and enjoyed seeing fellow crafters’ stalls, the visitors’ make and takes, and of course enjoy the shopping experience as much as the exhibiting.
One big success of the event was the chance to talk to people about sustainability and environmental issues. Our Mama & Baby Best Eco Product 2018 award-winning Beeswax Wraps (reusable replacements for clingfilm) were very popular and led to chats about how we look after our bees, only choose ethical ingredients, embrace traditional values with our “hive products” and how we try to minimise our use of plastics.
We present our skin creams in recyclable plastics with no metal parts. However, the recycling of them is beyond our influence, as it depends on both the customer doing their bit by putting them into local recycling schemes, and the councils which recycle them doing so ethically. Having decided to explore alternatives to these containers, our journey has been a challenging one, as it seems there is no single answer. Seemingly simple solutions are often not what they seem, for example “compostable” plastics need industrial composting and can’t go in our garden compost or recycling bins.
We attended the Packaging Trade Fair in 2019 with a view to finding alternatives and had a consultation with a skincare packaging specialist, but sadly were told that our preferred solution is at least two years away. Not wishing to delay the change, we have taken delivery of glass and aluminium jars, albeit without the airless pump that we so loved for our products. It was a challenge to find a UK manufacturer and then a supplier for the sizes, design and quantities for a small business.
Previously somewhat overlooked, our solid soap bars are far more popular now that customers realise that buying liquid soap in plastic bottles is wasteful. We’re also wrapping them in BeeswaxWraps as they’re ideal for weekends away, festivals and holidays. They have been very well-received, and we will be looking at other ways to use BeeswaxWraps.