It was back in 2013 that Hannah Gooley was inspired to investigate alternative ways to store food, and reduce unnecessary waste heading to landfill. In her kitchen at home, she got crafting and created her own homemade beeswax cloths. At Beekeep, they commission fairtrade organic cotton and promote the spirit of foraging, recovering and upcycling cotton fabrics to produce reusable wax cloths. Each piece is infused with pure beeswax, organic jojoba oil and pine tree resin, creating naturally sticky, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, self-adhesive and water-repellent food cloths to replace single-use plastics in the kitchen, and helping reduce the environmental impact on our oceans and the planet. Here, Hannah talks about their journey so far, the challenges they have faced along the way and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
A spritely, 4 week old bunch of coriander.
It was 2013, and I was deep in backyard permaculture practice, beekeeping, and carrying out community scale food waste education and composting schemes. I was living in a vibrant share house in Abbotsford, working at weekend markets, and had a lot of energy for leading my local community away from unnecessary waste and emissions caused in landfill.
Whilst exploring domestic food waste, it occurred to me that we have been storing it all wrong. What did we do before plastic wrapping our beautiful foods to death?
Waxed paper, cheese cloth and japara food bags captured my imagination.
So when I unwrapped a still beautiful bunch of coriander that I’d stored in a piece of homemade beeswax cloth, I got crafting. Because nobody likes slimey herbs and mouldy pumpkins, and this stuff was sure to be a game changer!
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Friends and family, my biggest critiques, were being converted all over Melbourne. I took a bunch of my beeswax cloth to market along with their stories, and started the NEIS program (a new enterprise incentive scheme) through RMIT.
Always the creative perfectionist, it took me a while to produce something that I felt confident to bring to the retail world. My beeswax supplier come friend and business mentor, Rob and his team at Bee Sustainable, was and always have been my greatest supporters.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
My partner Alan came on board in 2015 which was next level. We moved my studio into a shop space in Coburg, which we converted into a kind of ‘Makers co-op’. Local makers used the shop to work and sell, and hold space for our community. This was such a great launching pad for us as we grew our network across the city. By the summer we were doing so many markets and stocking so many amazing stores, we could barely keep up!