Alumna makes sustainable entrepreneurship all of her beeswax
It was buzzing at the headquarters of Becca’s Beeswax Wraps: the Greenville home of Becca Bolich Wade ’19.
“There’s a whole lot of production just on the other side of that wall,” said Wade, the company’s founder, CEO and “Queen Bee,” nodding toward the kitchen.
Wade was at home from her full-time job as a clean water specialist at conservation nonprofit Upstate Forever. In her kitchen, the company’s quality engineer – who is married to the CEO – was busy with the beeswax and cotton fabric that form the reusable food wraps.
Also in the house was Celia Castellano ’19, who works as the marketing and sales coordinator for Becca’s Beeswax Wraps when she’s not occupied with her master’s degree in landscape architecture.
The team was producing a larger batch than usual – about 400 wraps, Wade said – to stock their table at Timmons Arena for the 2023 Indie Craft Parade, an annual market where more than 100 makers from across the United States would exhibit their handmade goods.
A fresher take
From the beginning, the enterprise has been driven by the Delta Gamma sorority sisters’ shared environmental passion. While Wade was studying conservation biology and African ecology in South Africa in Fall 2017, Castellano, a sustainability science major and former fellow of The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, went to Scandanavia.
“Denmark is known for its eco-friendly lifestyle,” she said. “There were a lot more progressive products there than I could find here.”
New friends in Denmark demonstrated how beeswax wraps could be washed and reused, keeping untold yards of throwaway plastic and aluminum foil out of landfills. When the roommates returned to Furman, the reusable wraps Castellano brought home became a staple in their kitchen – and both continued using them after they left Furman, buying them online from Canada and the U.K.
Last year, with time on her hands after completing her master’s program in natural science and environmental education, Wade tried her hand at making her own beeswax wraps as unique presents for friends. But first, she needed to figure out how.
“There are a lot of YouTube videos for people who want to make them at home,” said Wade. “They’re less than helpful.”
She said the process involved a lot of trial and error and “getting lots of wax on our brand-new floors.”
The beeswax comes in bulk from Bee Well Honey Farm in nearby Pickens, South Carolina. The fabric is sourced sustainably; much of it is picked up from the bolts of leftover material donated to Greenville’s ReCraft Creative Reuse Center.
“Overambitious quilters are our new best friends,” said Castellano, who joined to help out as the company ramped up. Another Delta Gamma sister, Olivia Quick ’20 M’22, a graduate of Furman’s Master of Arts in Strategic Design (MASD) program, added her talents to the hive as design and brand manager.
The breathable beeswax wraps preserve food better than plastic, said Wade.
“Plastic wrap holds in condensation from your food, which actually causes it to mold much sooner,” she said. “And there’s an antimicrobial component in beeswax that also chemically keeps your food fresher.”
Wade’s products can last for a year with proper care, and they are 100% biodegradable and compostable, she said.
While keeping its environmental footprint small, Becca’s Beeswax Wraps has been steadily expanding its retail footprint since starting production in July 2022. A mainstay at the Travelers’ Rest Farmers Market, the wraps have also been sold at the Swamp Rabbit Café and Grocery and other local shops. Online orders have also been steady.
It’s been an eventful flight to sustainable entrepreneurship.
“My experience at Furman lent itself really well to thinking outside the box,” said Wade, a former double major in biology and philosophy. “It prepared me to look at things and take opportunities and not be afraid to chart a new path. We can care for the environment in a lot of different ways.”