Meet the Maker – Bev’s Eco Products
Bev Rogers from Bev’s Eco Products makes beautifully hand-crafted, reusable plastic-free food wraps, covers, wipes, sponges and cloths that help the planet, while also looking pretty on your kitchen and bathroom shelves.
Like many makers, Bev runs her eco-friendly business from her home but, unlike most, Bev’s home is a dutch barge in Woodbridge, Suffolk. And as if running a business in a confided space floating on water isn’t challenging enough, Bev also set herself the task of making vegan food wraps that are free from both palm and soy oil – a process that was no mean feat – and, for her beeswax range, only using wax collected by hobby beekeepers local to Suffolk and Norfolk.
Bev talks to fellow Folksy maker Jim Mayor from Glass Robin Studio about what inspired her to start a business making sustainable products and the trials and triumphs of running a business from a boat.
I’ve lived on a boat for just over 30 years now. Being confined to a small space is time consuming, as I have to pack everything away from the kitchen table in the evenings just to make dinner.Bev Rogers, Bev’s Eco Products
Firstly I have to ask how do you manage to run a business from a boat? I thought it was a struggle operating from a terrace house but now I feel positively blessed with space!
I’ve lived on a boat for just over 30 years now, so I’m used to it. There are three of us living aboard and if you see a bit of space, you steal it! My daughter has just left for university so now I feel blessed as I have commandeered her bedroom to store all my products. Being confined to a small space is time consuming, as I have to pack everything away from the kitchen table in the evenings just to make dinner.
I’ve never heard of food wraps. Are they a new thing or something that’s coming back into usage?
I believe food wraps were used in Tudor times, when cheese and butter were wrapped in a waxed cloth. Back then, this would have been a simple, woven cotton but the principle must have been the same: to keep food dry and fresh. I first heard about wraps in 2018 when my father sent me one from Australia – they were already all the rage there. I have always despised cling film, so to have an eco alternative was a joy. Having been a bit of bumbling beekeeper for a number of years I had some wax lying around and bits of fabric from unfinished projects and the rest is history.
Choosing fabrics I like is really easy, there are so many out there. The problem is trying to think about other people’s tastes and cater for them as well.Bev Rogers, Bev’s Eco Products
I love the fabrics you use. Where do you source your materials and how do you choose them?
I try to upcycle as much fabric as I can and rummage around at fabric fairs and car boot sales. I also need to buy rolls of fabric now, so I’mm always on the look out for sales. Choosing fabrics I like is really easy, there are so many out there, the problem is trying to think about other people’s tastes and cater for them as well.
The whole process of creating your own wax sounds quite complicated. Are you a secret scientist or did you learn another way?
I laughed at this question. My method was a bit of this and a bit of that until I got it right. My husband, who is a scientist, couldn’t bear it anymore, so he took over. It is all a very precise recipe now – he holds all the details!
I’m not vegan but I wanted to cater for the vegan community, and I was adamant that my vegan products would not have palm or soy oil in them. I have to confess I nearly gave up on the plant wax mixture, but I’m really pleased with the outcome.Bev Rogers, Bev’s Eco Products
A lot of your items are vegan. Are you vegan and, if you are, what made you decide to drop the animal products?
I’m not vegan but I have a lot of friends who are vegan and I wanted to cater for the vegan community. Having seen first hand the destruction of forests for palm oil I was adamant that my vegan products would not have palm or soy oil in them. I have to confess I nearly gave up on the plant wax mixture. It took a lot of time to get the mixture to work as well I wanted it to, but I’m really pleased with the outcome.
It’s really important to me that I know the beekeepers who I buy my wax from. They are hobby beekeepers in Suffolk and Norfolk with beautiful gardens that they plant to be pollinator-friendly.Bev Rogers, Bev’s Eco Products
I haven’t dropped the beeswax wraps though – I still make them. I respect people’s choices and don’t want to exclude people with my products. It’s really important to me that I know the beekeepers who I buy my wax from. They are not commercial businesses, they are hobby beekeepers in Suffolk and Norfolk with beautiful gardens that they plant to be pollinator-friendly.
Still on the plant power front, the term vegan can be a bit loaded. Did you consider this when thinking about marketing your items?
I don’t think of the term vegan as loaded or emotive – it’s a life choice. When you’re looking for products to match your needs, whether they be organic or vegan or locally sourced, you need clear marketing to make searching as easy as possible.
In lockdown I remember sending some products to Cornwall and I desperately wanted to package myself up with them and go there too!Bev Rogers, Bev’s Eco Products
One nice thing about making is never knowing who is going to buy your things or where they will end up. Who would you be most excited about getting an order from and why?
I agree that this is a lovely part of selling through Folksy. In lockdown I remember sending some products to Cornwall and I desperately wanted to package myself up with them and go there too! I am struggling a bit with occasional orders from abroad. I sent a couple of items to the USA, then felt really guilty about the environmental consequences, as I believe in supporting our local shops. After a quick search I have now found similar makers in the US, so I’ve decided to leave my products available to everyone but suggest a supplier in a customer’s own country if they order from me.
Assuming you can, how do you switch off from running the business?
This is really difficult when your work is surrounding you and you can’t shut the door on it. I think in the current climate, though, everyone is having to learn how to do this. I try to be strict and shut down my laptop at a certain time but tend not even to watch a film without hand sewing or packaging at the same time. I’m very fortunate to live on a beautiful river and, in summer, we were able to swim and kayak, which was really relaxing.
And finally, what do you find the most and least rewarding aspects of being your own boss?
The most rewarding is the lovely feedback you get from customers, especially someone who is just starting on their eco-friendly journey and discovering that simple swaps can be easy and look lovely too. The least rewarding for me is the social media – I find it a real struggle. I know how important it is but it doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m hoping that the more I do it, the easier it will become and the less nervous I’ll feel about it.
Shop Bev’s Eco Products on Folksy
Meet the interviewer
The maker asking the questions this time is Jim from Glass Robin Studio. Jim is a glass artist with a love of the sea and the creatures within. You can find his work on Folksy and read more about him in our Meet the Maker interview.