Bee’s Wrap is all the buzz in Bristol

BRISTOL — One could argue that stay-at-home moms make the best entrepreneurs. They’re used to long hours, multi-tasking, and inventing quick fixes on the fly.
For the last year and a half, a New Haven mother of three (all under the age of 11) has been building her own business, and has already found quite a bit of success.
Sarah Kaeck is the founder of Bee’s Wrap, a company that produces beeswax-coated cloths used for food storage. She said her products are more environmentally friendly than using plastic containers, plastic wrap or tin foil.
“You eliminate the use of plastic and any chemicals that may be associated with it, for your own personal health,” Kaeck said.
The organic cotton muslin cloths are coated with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin, a careful combination that keeps the wax from cracking. The wraps can be washed and re-used for up to a year, Kaeck said. Afterwards, they can be composted, and also, she said, they make great fire starters.
Kaeck founded Bee’s Wrap out of a workshop in her home in the fall of 2012. She’s no stranger to making her own products — in the past she has made aprons to sell at the Middlebury Farmers’ Market.
She said she first got the idea to make waxed wraps from her cousins, who suggested she give it a try. After some troubleshooting with her husband, Brian, Kaeck developed a prototype that did the job.
“I played around with it and we loved using it our own kitchen as an alternative to plastic wrap,” Kaeck said. “I got such an amazing response from people that I thought I could turn this into a business.”
After more trial and error to find the best cotton to absorb and retain the beeswax, Kaeck had a product she could market.
After 18 months of making Bee’s Wraps from her home, Kaeck decided to expand, and recently rented a space on Rocky Dale Road in Bristol. She said the space is the perfect size, and that she was impressed with the businesses that started there and found success.
“We wanted to be close to Bristol or New Haven for ease of travel,” Kaeck said. “This is where Vermont Coffee, Honey Lights and Autumn Harp started. Those are good business, and we want to follow in their footsteps.”
Kaeck already has her eye on further expansion. The company will soon add machinery that will increase its output. Currently, Bee’s Wrap produces 2,500 wraps per week.
“We’d like to double our sales this year, which I think is reasonable,” Kaeck said.
The company currently employs two full-time and three part-time employees. She said she may increase her staff, depending on how the new machinery increases output.
“I think we’ll bring on some more people as we get into our busy season in the fall,” Kaeck said. “But with the new production system we may not; that’s your million-dollar question.”
Bee’s Wrap’s current product lines includes four different sizes — small, medium, large and an extra-large wrap for loaves of bread. They can be purchased individually or in sets of three.
Customers can find Bee’s Wraps in 200 brick-and-mortar outlets, as well as online retailers like Williams-Sonoma.com. Locally, Bee’s Wraps can be found at the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op, Clementine in Middlebury, Honey Lights in Bristol and the Home Shop in Brandon.
Kaeck said she has taken orders from as far away as Sweden, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
“It’s so cool because it’s made the world so much smaller so quickly,” she said. “Since this happened, the doors have just opened wide.”
Kaeck said she enjoys developing relationships with stores all over the world, especially those that value sustainable living.
“I can really see they’re more ecologically minded, and I can see this being a really great fit for them,” she said.
Currently, Bee’s Wrap sources its beeswax from hives across the United States, including in New York and Iowa. Kaeck said it was important for her to find beekeepers that used sustainable harvesting practices.
“We’re trying to source wax from beekeepers who are producing in a sustainable way, using the least amount of chemicals in their hives and being conscientious about how they raise their bees,” Kaeck said.
Kaeck said she originally wanted to use wax from Vermont beekeepers, but there simply isn’t enough volume to meet the company’s needs. Bee’s Wrap uses around 300 pounds of wax per month (as a point of reference, 6 to 8 pounds of honey comes from one pound of wax).
In recent months, Kaeck has studied the ins and outs of beekeeping, and plans to operate her own hives starting this summer.
“We have some mentorship going on for that, to figure out how bees are raised,” Kaeck said. “We don’t want chemicals in our wax, and we also want the bees to thrive.”
Learn more about Bee’s Wrap at www.beeswrap.com.

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