Katie Gamble is the founder of Nature Bee, a Vancouver Island-based business bringing sustainability into kitchens around the world. Her business produces beeswax wraps and other reusable household products that cut down on the need for wasteful single use plastics.
In just four years, Katie has grown Nature Bee from a university project to a thriving small business with 12 staff and a growing distribution network. Alongside her traditional business achievements, Katie has prioritized accessibility in her workplace, factoring it into her growth plans and benefitting from a diverse pool of staff that are helping her business grow.
We caught up with Katie to learn more about her awesome business, and how she’s prioritizing accessibility.
What’s the story behind Nature Bee Wraps?
Nature Bee began back in 2018 as part of my final school project. I was finishing up my Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Victoria, with a specialization in entrepreneurship. We had to choose a final project to focus our energy on and treat it like we were starting our own small business with a complete business plan, marketing, goals, and everything else you’d need to launch.
The project went well, and my parents encouraged me to do a feasibility study of where this could go as a business. I was having fun with it, and it was something I really believed in. They graciously allowed me to use their basement as my workspace and that’s where Nature Bee Wraps really started from. Initially, I had a couple of casual employees, and we were working at the kitchen table for about a year before we finally outgrew the space.
At that point, we realized we needed to step up into a dedicated space. My mom came across a place in the Saanich area. It was a small office, but it was perfect as a starting point. We operated out of there for a while, and we had four co-op students helping me out. Over time, our team has grown to 12 employees and two external contract employees. It’s been wonderful and exciting to see this growth. I feel like now we’re really hitting peak growth and I’m just so excited to see where we can go from here.
What steps have you taken to make your business more accessible for those with a disability?
My goal at Nature Bee is to always be inclusive and accepting of all people and all abilities. We do not let someone’s disability prevent us from hiring. If they can do the position, then it doesn’t matter – also we are happy to adjust things that can be adjusted to make it work. All jobs we post are open to everyone and anyone.
What advice would you give to business owners looking to create more accessible workplaces?
My biggest piece of advice is to start. If there is any hesitation to hire, look for resources locally that can support but one of the biggest things I have learned is that all workplaces should be accessible to those who want to try. I will never ever look back and regret my decision to hire someone with a disability. It has truly been a gift.
How can businesses benefit from including the perspectives of individuals with a disability?
Our company culture has only benefited from hiring someone with a disability. They provide a wonderful new outlook on the positions we have created and helped our team grow in many different ways. The individuals who work for us have had to learn new ways of communication, different accessible tasks and ultimately created the best friendships. We are so lucky to have individuals with new and unique skills help us develop our own skills at Nature Bee.
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