Meet Nature Bee, Winner, 2022

Finalist Profiles

Katie Gamble is on a mission to bring sustainability into kitchens around the world. As the founder and “Queen Bee” of Nature Bee Wraps, she produces beeswax wraps and other reusable products that cut down on the need for wasteful single use plastics.

In four short years, Katie’s company has grown from a final project for her Bachelor’s Degree, to a thriving small business with 12 staff and placement in over 360 retail partners across North America. Not bad for a company started in her parents’ basement!

We were super excited to catch up with Katie and learn more about her purpose-driven small business.

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.

You’ve grown so much in such a short time, what’s the big goal you’re striving towards?

Our number one thing has always been impact. I always ask myself what kind of impact can we have? What can our brand do? A big lesson we all learned from COVID is that nobody knows what’s coming in the future. It’s felt like we’ve all been thrown something new each week. The environment we started this business in just doesn’t exist anymore, and we’ve learned to be adaptable to whatever comes our way.

While all this change has been going on, our focus has remained on growing this brand and working to grow our impact. We recently connected with a distributor in the USA and that’s super exciting for us. It’s going to give us a larger platform, help get the word out, increase our community and our impact. We want to continue showing people out there that small changes in their lives can add up to big impacts.

Speaking of small changes, what kind of tips can you share to help others live more sustainably?

Whatever you do, just start small. One small change, over time, has the potential to make a major impact. The goal should always be to not overwhelm yourself with dramatic changes. You don’t have to immediately go zero waste in your life to make a difference. Trying to do that will just burn you out and cause you to give up. Start by choosing a simple swap. Maybe you start with our beeswax wraps instead of plastic wraps, a Swedish dish cloth instead of a paper towel – these changes go a long way over time. Starting small like this will help you transition more of your daily habits to being sustainable over time. The fact that more and more people are starting to think this way is so exciting!

Where can people find Nature Bee products for sale?

We always say that our Nature Bee products are always on sale 24/7 on our online store. But we also really encourage people to support local small businesses that carry our products. We have over 360 retail partners across North America, and we have a store locator on our site that lets you pop your postcode in and find stores nearby that carry our products. Whether you buy from us, or a local business, you’re supporting small businesses and we always encourage that!

Why do you think it’s so essential for people to support small businesses?

This is a subject that really matters to me as the founder of a small, female-owned, and sustainable business. When you support a small business like ours, you’re supporting 12 individuals, their careers, their lives, and their goals.

When you buy a beeswax wrap from Nature Bee, those funds are going to support my staff members. It’s paying for their tuition; it’s helping to pay the rent of staff members with disabilities, and it’s helping people discover their careers and begin fulfilling their potential. Having that personal touch, and knowing where that money is going, it’s super impactful and it’s just the best. To me, that’s why it’s so important.

How did your community support you during the Small Business BC Awards?

The Nature Bee community is one of a kind and truly the best. Since day one, our goal has been to support the people who support us. The fact that our community got us all the way to winning an award is incredible. They took time out of their day to show their support and help us reach our goals, it means the world to my team and I. A community is so important to any business succeeding. We’ll never take that for granted and we’ll keep working to listen to them and build that community.

What did you learn from taking part in the Awards?

At the start, I found the process daunting. Not because it was difficult, it was more that I struggled to boast and write down all the things we had achieved to that point. I learned not to shy away from that task.
Participating in the Awards was an amazing chance to reflect on all our accomplishments – whether they were big or small. Don’t be shy in sharing those milestones, express where you came from and where you are now. It’s really important to talk about your journey, your growth, and tell that story – warts and all.

Take your time, reflect on everything you’ve achieved and dream big. It doesn’t matter what size your business is. What matters is your impact; that you’re out there supporting your community and doing good things. That’s where people find value and want to support you.

Subscribe to stay up to date with the 2024 Small Business BC Awards.