Joanna HausenWe interviewed Joanna Hausen to see what drives her to pursue her venture, Bee Balm:

What’s your why?

A few years ago, after studying environmental issues, a friend from home and I began seeing a problem in our own purchases: It didn’t feel good to buy skin care products that used ingredients such as microbeads or palm oil. In addition, we found many popular skin care products actually left our skin drier. We started making our own skin care products for ourselves and our family and friends every summer. We used local ingredients, including beeswax from local apiaries, flowers from local greenhouses, or even from our own gardens. Our friends and family liked what we made and so we expanded into a business, selling Bee Balm products at our local farmer’s market in Bayfield, Ontario.

What’s the problem you are solving?

We know that the skin care industry often engages in environmentally degrading practices and we have developed our company to move people toward sustainable consumer practices in terms of skin care. We researched sustainable skin care products and adapted what was being done so that we were using simple, local, organic, ethical, and sustainable ingredients, and adding our own spin to the products in terms of scent or healing properties. We have expanded our product line based on products people use widely. We’ve worked hard to develop sustainable packaging, including refillable containers and biodegradable packaging (or no packaging where it isn’t needed). We’ve expanded our distribution through online sales and are working to develop a local retail opportunity at a larger farmers’ market.

This summer, we are involved in a newer initiative of repurposing and reducing waste. One example of this is that we pick up used coffee grounds from a Bayfield coffee shop, dehydrate the beans and turn them into a coffee scrub. We are talking to local breweries about ways we can use their by-products to make a beer soap. This helps our partners reduce their waste and then sell the repurposed products in their stores.

What keeps you up at night?

We have genuine concern for the environment and its role in peace and security. We called our company Bee Balm because we support local apiaries by using their beeswax. We recognize that there are serious concerns with declining populations among pollinators, including bees. This has huge implications for all of us – our food security depends on pollinators. We believe environmental justice is something everyone should focus on and we believe that human habits have a major effect. We work to mobilize people into realizing that we shouldn’t take our beautiful natural environment for granted. At the same time, we don’t want to turn people off — someone might buy our products simply because they like the smell or the benefits to their skin. We can be part of encouraging people to take small steps toward sustainability in their everyday lives.

We’re a good team working together. We’re trying to make sure we don’t expand too far before getting things working well. We’re hoping to learn a lot from this project, balancing this with school and other work. While this project is on the side for now, it is important to us to influence and educate people on the importance of sustainable behaviours.

- by Susan Fish



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