Hive to Home

The Buzz About Beeswax

Have you ever stopped to consider how many single-use items are used in your kitchen? From cling-wrap to tinfoil, many of us rely on these items to store food, which can often lead to excessive waste.

Hive to Home founder and 2022 Community Investment Grant recipient Chelsey Schmuland hopes to change consumer waste habits with beeswax wraps, a reusable alternative to single-use items like plastic wrap.

If you’re unfamiliar with beeswax wraps, they’re simple enough to incorporate in your kitchen. Using the warmth of your hands, beeswax wraps can be molded to cover things like bowls, jars, produce and bread. They can be folded into baggies, and Chelsey says some customers even use them for extra grip when opening jars. Hive to Home’s beeswax wraps are made with 100% cotton, package-free jojoba oil from Nova Scotia-owned store Luminate and beeswax from Nova Scotian farmers. They’re durable, last for a long time, and at the end of a beeswax wrap’s life, it can be rewaxed or used as a cotton kitchen wipe.

As far as environmentally friendly alternatives go, Chelsey’s wraps are thoughtfully crafted with sustainability in mind. Prior to starting her business, this had been a significant part of Chelsey’s background, having studied Environmental Science and Environment, Sustainability and Society (ESS) from Dalhousie University.

The idea for her beeswax wraps came to her organically—inspiration striking within her own kitchen.

“One day I looked in my fridge and there was too much single-use plastic in it. And I thought ‘I know better.’ I remember texting my husband: ‘I know what I’m going to do. I’m going to make beeswax wraps.’”

Initially Chelsey began making her beeswax wraps for herself, then for friends and family. Through social media posts, she was able to show others how she was using them. Soon after, an opportunity arose to feature the wraps on a CBC program.

“One day Colleen Jones emailed me and said, ‘We’re doing a segment called Waves of Change, can we interview Hive to Home?’” Chelsey explains. “I said ‘yes’ and made a website the day before the interview. This opportunity was really special for me because, unbeknownst to Colleen, my grandfather was a cameraman for CBC before he retired and passed. It was really nice to be able to reminisce.”

The program gave Chelsey overnight recognition. “That segment aired, the Weather Channel cross-posted it, and orders went from family and friends to international.” Soon she had stores contacting her to do consignment and retail.

This jump in demand meant that Chelsey very quickly needed to learn everything she could about shipping internationally, as well as wholesale and retail.  “I bootstrapped Hive to Home with a $25 iron, $5 of beeswax, and a square of cotton. My background and skillset are not building a website, doing social media, doing wholesale, retail, or the business side of it. So, in the beginning I learned my way through it, surrounded myself with people who wanted to help me, asked a ton of questions and worked really hard.”

Of the experience, Chelsey says it’s been “really wonderful” and has “grown organically.”

In 2022, Hive to Home was one of the recipients of CUA’s Community Investment Grant Program, receiving $1,500 to be put towards a commercial electric griddle to reduce production time of the beeswax wraps. Chelsey says that because of the grant, the new griddle gives her the capacity to “take on more and do it well.”

She explains, “Before, I was bogged down in production. Being able to make the wraps 93% faster is now allowing me to attend markets and engage with customers directly. Since upgrading to the griddle, I’ve been invited to numerous markets and have committed to five in person markets, one being Christmas at the Forum, which is a very big commitment for a small maker.”

Chelsey says that part of the benefit of these in-person events is getting to have direct dialogue with customers, allowing her to hold conversations about single-use plastics and education. Her engagement within the community also extends into classrooms, as schools have invited her to speak about sustainability and biodiversity.

Of her experience with CUA’s Grant Program, Chelsey says it “was so lovely, that I decided to do Hive to Home’s business banking with CUA.”

Chelsey explains, “It truly felt like CUA was cheering for Hive to Home. The genuine support and encouragement were beyond anything I expected. I believe in Hive to Home, and it really felt like CUA was in my corner. The banking process has been easy, friendly, and straight forward. I’d totally recommend it to other small businesses.”

Reflecting upon her small business’s success, Chelsey suggests that the key was saying ‘yes’ to opportunities and “surrounding myself with people that genuinely wanted to help me.” Paying this help forward, she says, is also important.

“Someone I have a lot I respect for said to look around and see who you can bring with you. As you grow, see who you can involve and support. There’s a very strong, talented community of makers in Nova Scotia. When we support each other and raise each other up we support the community as a whole. Showcasing and cheering each other on goes a long way. I truly believe in community over competition.”

Long-term, Chelsey says Hive to Home’s goals involve being “part of the community that helps educate about solid waste and replace single use plastics,” which she hopes to achieve through conversation, education and by offering alternatives.

Chelsey also says that, while she can’t get into much detail yet, she has ‘big plans’ for expanding Hive to Home.

In the meantime, she continues to work towards her own community efforts. Reducing production time has had spinoff benefits, Chelsey explains, such as freeing up the opportunity to donate a portion of sales to a beekeeping society.

“I’m currently consulting local beekeepers to hear their suggestions and to tap into their knowledge as to where they recommend these donations go.”

Chelsey looks forward to doing this, and “increasing the support Hive to Home is able to offer.”

Our team at CUA is happy to have been able to help Chelsey on her journey, and we look forward to supporting more businesses like Hive to Home through our Community Investment Grant Program in 2023.

See other past grant recipients.