Woman in Progress: Kath Austin of BeeBee Wraps

This week our Woman in Progress is Kath Austin, founder of BeeBee Wraps. Kath developed a plastic-free, compostable alternative to clingfilm in her kitchen, of all places, and two years ago launched the first BeeBee Wrap which was so well received that she now runs the business together with her husband David and a team of ten. If she wasn’t busy enough battling plastic pollution with her products, she’s also an award winning entrepreneur and Mum to two amazing daughters - here are her answers to our questions.

BeeBee beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin and organic jojoba oil (and they’re pretty too!). Photo by Luana Burton Martignon

BeeBee beeswax wraps are made from organic cotton, beeswax, tree resin and organic jojoba oil (and they’re pretty too!). Photo by Luana Burton Martignon

Woman in Progress: Kath Austin of BeeBee Wraps

What’s the one thing in your life that makes things easier?

David will be so proud of this answer because he is always pushing me to do more of this. I am definitely the spontaneous, more chaotic one in our partnership. David likes me to set up systems to make our life easier. So, anything from doing the laundry to managing stock levels at BeeBee Wraps can be systemised. Stick at it, form a habit, then my energy and creativity is freed up to be spent on the stuff I love like product development or being a better mum. 

What’s the one thing you couldn’t live without?

I couldn’t live without sunshine and Google Calendar. I am craving the sun and feel the benefit immediately when the clouds clear. I wish I didn’t depend on Google Calendar so much but I do. Just another way of systemising, I guess!  

What do you love to do for fun?

I zone out by reading, it takes my head out of work and into my imagination. I can’t go more than a few days without socialising, happily sat in a café or down the pub. I love a good yoga session and a cycle round Cambridge! 

What one piece of advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?

You can totally do this. Don’t doubt yourself. You are bigger than the box within which you find yourself. 

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of so much in my life. Obviously, I’m proud to have launched and being running a successful social enterprise tackling plastic pollution. I am proud to be named SME National Entrepreneur of the year. I am actually the proudest to be raising two awesome kids.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at work?

Mistakes will be made. Sucking it up and learning from them is the only way to go. 

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned at home?

The world is bigger, broader, more exciting than you can ever imagine. My little part of the world is only a speck in what is yet to be discovered. Be brave to explore the unknown. I could've been braver, more adventurous and seen more than I have. So choose to be brave.

Picnic Perfect! Photo by Luana Burton Martignon

Picnic Perfect! Photo by Luana Burton Martignon

Did you expect to be doing what you’re doing right now?

No. Way. I always wanted to do something different with my life, I always said I wanted to leave a legacy. I feel that this might be fulfilling that wish. The unexpected life is exciting if a little scary. It's a life less ordinary and I wouldn't change it. I am one lucky gal!

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

I can’t believe I’m here. My life has been a succession of happy accidents and making some really good, brave, risky decisions. BeeBee Wraps came about because I acted on the answer to a question I was among the first to ask. I would say that the opportunities I’ve had have come about thanks to talking to anyone and everyone, basically it’s networking or some call it building ‘social capital’. 

What top tip would you pass on to other women in progress reading this?

Give up your limiting beliefs. Don’t let the worrying thoughts you have as you drift off to sleep affect what you achieve the next day. You’ve totally got this. 

Cocktails or coffee?

Both. In fact, I love espresso martini, so that really is both. Although, I have banned myself from drinking them after 9pm. I spent an unhappy night lying wide awake until 4am after a midnight cocktail. 

Are you done yet?  What’s next?

In the immediate future, it’s all about growing BeeBee Wraps. We know that to see real behavioural change around using single-use plastic we need to reach a tipping point. The concept needs to be out there, as without an alternative what do you choose? 

I have an idea of where I want to be in the distant future. I’d like to claw back some space in my personal life, as it is all consuming, but do so with a social venture simmering away. I can’t let go and do nothing. 

Thanks Kath for taking time to be our Woman in Progress - and if you fancy an espresso martini do check out our recipe! To find out more about Kath and BeeBee wraps you can check out her social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.  

Lastly, if like Kath, you like an espresso martini, we have our own great recipe.

Images above by Cambridge based photographer Luana Burton.

Kath Austin SME Awards 2018