Thursday 28 January 2016

Creative Conversations {Geraldine Devine from Bee Eco}

I have a supremely beautiful and special conversation to share with you today. I want to jump right into this home, this family and be part of it all - don't you?!
Geraldine Devine, of BeeEco beeswax wraps, is a woman who lives the life she talks about - she runs her business with a full heart and commitment to her beliefs; her family form the basis of all she does, and her home is full of warmth, honesty, colour and beauty. Living a true sustainable life, Geraldine and her family share their ideals in a positive light - inviting you to be part of the change through simple slow thoughtful living. This isn't about the perfect life, it's about a thoughtful journey, about sharing, connecting and educating. Geraldine, along with her husband Matt and four children, aren't living a trendy hipster Indie lifestyle (though, golly couldn't this photo below be an album cover!) - they're more content with simply living their daily beauty and watching their children play. 

I want to know about your beautiful family - tell me about where you live, and your amazing-looking home, and those sweet little ones of yours. 

Our family of six live deep in a very enchanting forest in a soul warming & welcoming treehouse cottage. A 1920's Teahouse, renewed by our favourite craftspeople, using recycled timbers & materials. It rattles, shakes & is filled with love & quirky character! Our self sustainable haven of tranquility, 'off the grid' with solar power, tank water & no services. Based on Permaculture & Biodynamic Principles we built a cob oven, spiral veggie patch, dam filled with silver perch, yabbies, lotus & lilies and a sub tropical orchard. Free range animals, tree forts, swings & fairy gardens galore, bring daily delight & good reason to live life outdoors. Our gorgeous children, Archi, 11, Arjuna, 8, Mirrah, 5 & Soma, 2 have a rhythm of farm duties, crafting, cooking, tree climbing, animal loving, reading & lots of surfing. The Farm is an endlessly magical oasis for them & fills our heart immeasurably to witness them being raised this way!

What are Bee Eco wraps? Share why you started making them - what lead you to walk this path in life? 

Bee Eco Wraps are a beautiful & sustainable method of wrapping your food. GOTS Certified Organic Fabric or Handprinted Hemp, infused with beeswax, jojoba & tree resin. A reusable option to reduce your use of plastic and enhance the freshness & longevity of your food, naturally. A tactile, everyday reminder of the changes we can make toward sustainable lifestyles. 

What you love, comes to be! Bee Eco, born from two great passions, textiles & sustainable living! 

Raising children saw us shift from being environmentally aware observers to become active participants in paving a sustainable future. This is our time to 'be'.  Role models that are grounded & passionate. Respecting this beautiful planet.  

Our kitchen is the hub of our house as it bubbles, brews, ferments & soaks are daily fare. Beeswax Wraps are an essential part of the homesteading, food loving kitchen! 

The 'Market Life' of the business is also our destiny, a perfect adjunct to our farm life, as we thrive amongst the bustling, diverse, musical, artistic & farming community on the Sunshine Coast. 

You make all the wraps by hand - can you share a little of the process, or how special they are… how much work/time/energy/love goes into each piece? 

We have poured so much love & positive energy into Bee Eco. The business has become a healthy part of our family, an element to the rhythm of our days (and nights!). From collecting the beeswax (and honey), cutting, chopping, blending, waxing, curing, every element absorbing the chatter & song of children & existing amongst the bustle of farm life. The monotonous sectors are enlivened with chit chat or loud music & the creative & delectable tasks of designing & choosing fabrics we savour & enjoy. 

Is Bee Eco a full time business or do you have jobs outside of the home as well? 

Bee Eco, our 50 acre farm & 4 children leaves us full! 

On the Farm we love to grow & make our own, we trade & support artisans & local growers. Within a community, our humble, real & down to earth existence can find it's authentic face. 

As a mama of 4 with a handcrafted family business, how to fit it all in, how do you find your 'balance' within the busy?

Laying in the garden, warmed by the dappled afternoon sun, nuzzled by lambs, surrounded by chickens, nibbling on fresh picked lychees near the bustling beehive, the children spread amongst singing, climbing, whittling & chicken raising..... we poured our heart & soul into creating this lifestyle & we are committed to savouring it. 

The balance is a gift from our children, who are ever present in each aspect of our life. To ensure we remain good role models on how a day should run, full of rhythm, purpose, nature, creativity & connectivity. To each other. To slow and channel our energy toward specific tasks with intent and positivity. 

In a slow living orientated household with no technology (other than a work iPad) and an aversion to shops & consumerism, time really opens up. We have a different sense of 'presence' now. We are so much more deeply engrossed in daily tasks. A choice to minimalise our distractions, interactions & things that we find may deplete us. Allowing our strengths to surface & our consciousness & peace to unite & ignite us. 

We feel that the greatest impact we can have on paving a sustainable and enriched future is held in our commitment to this lifestyle & passing traditions & knowledge onto our children. We are dedicated to not filling our lives too full to allow slow & generous time to relish in our children & the natural world. 

The wisdom of age brings insight, boundaries & more confidence to keep business within the realms of our energy resources, to harness it as a handmade, homemade family business. 

In a recent busy season phase, the snakes found holes to the baby chicks, the goanna's got to the eggs, I cooked my mother sourdough, the kombucha grew weird stuff & the animals took over the house. Yoga joined the list of multitasking skills, I got to bed just as the baby started nightly wake ups from not enough slow time day breastfeeding, I often forgot to breathe & my idea of tidy was to sweep everything into an ever growing pile (!), our sense of why we do what we do gained more strength than ever. Busy is good, but balance is essential. 

In the fast & hectic times we practice our mantras, remember to breathe & endeavour to have each other's back as we shelter our small folk from the inherent pressures of a small, family business. 

We are so very deeply in love with family life, grateful for our lifestyle & enjoy creating beautiful Beeswax Wraps. We pull ourselves & each other short when we feel too sorry for ourselves. We do sometimes call our life 'relentless'; the farm jobs, food preparation, lack of sleeping ~ we've been co sleeping & breastfeeding for a LONG time ~ this 'balancing' & juggling. Our life travels and experience have developed an ingrained need to think globally & remember our good fortune. We have many affirmations, methods & tools that we utilise to stay afloat through the tough times, that do, & will always come! We laugh, ALOT!

I love the recent fabric collaboration you did with Ink & Spindle (image above) and the linocut prints with artist Taryn Eales. You do a lot of collaborations with the fabrics of Bee Eco wraps - is this part of your business model, how do you choose who to collaborate with and do you have any tips to share on how to make it work well for both sides. 

The creative process & exchange of ideas is so vibrant in collaboration. We tend to work with folks with a mutual understanding of the dynamics within a creative family business & the flexibility & genius required to uphold professionalism, with a baby off one hip, amongst the chorus of little chatterers & helpers. 

The collective exploration & exchange of ideas results in something exceptionally beautiful, useful & bursting with story. Our hearts are full with the beauty created & friendships formed through collaboration. 

Like all of life, expect a few downturns, or sticky aspects & determine to ride it with grace. As the journey of a business & creative collaboration unfolds, remain kind, fair, professional & excited. Keep in the forefront of your mind what you can give rather than what you shall receive. 

Collaboration is a process of human relations, to which you can garner all of your gathered wisdom to bring about success. To offer your innate gifts & talents to bring to the table & trade with your chosen 'idols'! Fun!! 

Have you got anything coming up this year that you'd love to share?

The Ink & Spindle Collaboration was such an honour for us and we just adore the outcome! As it all sold out near immediately, a new Australian Native Botanical Range, once again designed & handprinted by Lara Cameron & Caitlin Klooger in Melbourne, is very soon to be released. 

The innate beauty & talent of Taryn Eales will continue to flourish as we bring more handcarved linocut, handprinted with Eco dyes, onto a gorgeous sturdy hemp. These Wraps feel invaluable & enriching to the soul of a kitchen. We roll down the country lanes, over rickety bridges, the kids mooing all the way, into Taryn's whimsical farm paradise, you truly can feel the beauty of this very talented Mama encapsulated in each handprinted Wrap! 

A beautiful boiling pot of textile love is brewing! We are just bubbling with excitement at some  upcoming collaborations! Solar screen printing & nature dyes with some of our favourite creative folk are amongst the excitement. 

We have also opened the doors of our Farm to welcome others travelling a journey of self sustainable living. 

What's your best eco tip - the simple smaller everyday things often are the best aren't they? 

Our number one Eco tip is time in Nature. Every day, as much as possible. The real change comes from within & occurs in Nature! A form of Eco enlightenment that brings a consciousness & empowers the determination to make & stick with those daily changes. Then get excited about all of the wonderful things you will learn, cool sustainable community you can be a part of & relish in the beauty of the natural world you are conscious of protecting. 

On a practical level, allow a gentle awakening to the perils of plastic & eco conscious choices. Create a list. Step by step challenge the disposable parts of life. 

Buy in bulk. Shift to sustainable toothbrushes, shampoo bars, jojoba oil & henna. Bicarbonate soda, apple cider vinegar & eucalyptus for cleaning. A great dishwashing cloth, scrubber, soap nuts for laundry. A mason jar each, a favourite op shop spoon, bamboo straw when out & about. Vintage wicker baskets are fabulous or an essential reusable shopping bag.  Look at ways to trade goods & reduce consumerism, or delve into the magical world of vintage! 

There is so much to learn about fermenting, gardening, cooking or sewing tapped into a local like minded community. Sustainable living is cool, pass it on! The time is NOW to be that change. 

I'd love to hear if you introduce beeswax wraps to your life - they are one simple change. You can find all the info about the Beeswax wraps here, and follow along with BeeEco on Instagram


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