Can you make money selling Beeswax wraps?

As a fabric designer I’m always looking at ways to turn my fabric to life. This, coupled with an ambition to have my own shop selling things I’ve designed and made, means I’m always super excited to learn a new skill when it comes to being able to turn my own fabric into something people would want to buy. And so project Beeswax Foodwraps began!

Oh so pretty!

Oh so pretty!

I researched loads of online tutorials on how to make these and after lots of trial and error I cracked it. I managed to create a beeswax wrap that was tacky enough to mould around a bowl of leftovers and to cling to itself when wrapping sandwiches without it being too sticky. And…I managed to do this without any unsightly yellow splodges.

During this research and trial stage I just ordered my fabric, bought the ingredients - organic beeswax, food grade pine resin, organic jojoba oil, paintbrush, baking paper and spare baking trays - and ploughed right in, accepting that there is always a cost to getting your product nailed and this would eventually pay for itself.

Beeswax wraps are expensive in the shops. I had presumed this is because when selling through a shop you need to multiply the total cost of your product by 2.5 to make any profit at all and that will only cover your costs and a small percentage of profit. ‘But that’s ok’ I thought ‘I’m selling direct to my instagram followers and facebook followers and through my newsletter and website. I don’t need to times the product cost by 2.5. I can undercut those sold in the shops and promote my fabric at the same time whilst providing people with cheaper Beeswax wraps. Everyone’s a winner!’ Well, let me tell you that that was cocky!

Full of optimism!

Full of optimism!

All ready - how much can I sell them for?

All ready - how much can I sell them for?

Last night I sat down at my desk and worked out my figures, still pretty sure I was onto a winner. I spent a couple of hours calculating and recalculating. Powdered pine resin costs 14p per gram but when you need 17.5 grams of it for one sandwich wrap that’s £2.45p per wrap - just for that one ingredient. Eek. The beeswax worked out at 53p per wrap and the oil at 5p. Not so bad. But there’s another expensive outlay - the fabric. You can buy fabric for as little as £1.50 a metre but I’m using my own fabric which I order from Spoonflower. It is £17 a metre and I get a small designer discount so I pay £15.30 a metre but then there is postage on top. So my fabric comes in at £1.80 for a sandwich wrap. Eek! So in total the ingredients cost me £4.83. Eeeek! Ideally I like to double the cost to work out a retail price which will cover my costs, pay me for my time, my website fees, marketing etc. Doubling the cost takes me to £9.66 which isn’t going to work. Nobody would spend THAT much on one wrap. So I considered just adding 50% but that’s still £7.25 for one food wrap and I haven’t even taken into account postage yet or packaging, no matter how minimal. And so with all that I decided to put a stop to Project Beeswax and not waste a second more. Ah, well, you live and learn.

I’m not a business person. I didn’t go to business school. Business isn’t in my blood - I come from a family of teachers. But I’m not going to let ‘I’m not a business person’ put me off trying. So what to do when you come up against a brick wall like this? Take the lessons learned…

Lesson 1 - Do your costings first!

Hold onto the excitement of creating a new product and do the boring numbers stuff first. It now seems obvious that commercial beeswax companies are buying their supplies in bulk: metres of cheaper fabric, kilos of powdered pine resin etc rather than small bags of the stuff. I don’t have enough cash behind me, yet, to buy in bulk.

Lesson 2 - Turn a negative into a positive (or 3 positives).

1) I have a pile of lovely beeswax wraps that I’m going to give away as freebies to my subscribers. I can finally show them gratitude for signing up!

2) I can write this blog :) Hopefully a budding maker or surface pattern designer reads it and learns from my mistakes.

3) I can create my first tutorial ‘How to make your own Beeswax wraps’ which will be on my website soon.

So can you make money from selling beeswax wraps?

Yes you can. If you use cheaper fabric. If you omit pine resin (not all recipes call for pine resin) or if you are able to invest in buying in bulk. Good luck!

Kate x

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