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Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

Beeswax Candles Vue De Monde

Thinking Globally, Acting Locally

It’s always important when you’re thinking of starting a business to think about whether the world actually needs what you’re thinking of creating!  Just because you think you’ve found your life’s purpose doesn’t necessarily mean that the world needs it!

On the surface of it, the world didn’t need another candle business when I started Queen B fourteen years ago, and yet, when you scratched the surface, it absolutely needed what we had to offer.

At Queen B our vision and our goals are global but we also make a measurable difference by supporting the local community we’re a part of.

  • Globally, the Amazon and the virgin rainforests of Asia needed someone to scream from the rooftops about the clear felling taking place for soy and palm plantations. According to a Greenpeace blog post in May 2016, the amount of land soy occupies in the Amazon region is up 260% (since 2006).
  • Globally, someone needed to take a stand about this massive lie that is marketing soy wax as ‘natural’. The dictionary definition of natural when used as an adjective is existing in or derived from nature; not made or caused by humankind.”  How is it possible to call chemically bleached, heavy metal hydrogenated soya oil, “natural soy wax”?
  • Globally someone needed to shine a light on the plight of bees and the destruction being wreaked upon them by ‘big business’, by monocropping, by Monsanto and their GM crops and neonicitinoid chemical sprays and fertilisers.
  • The world absolutely needed an alternative to the paraffin and soy candles that dominate the market and to be honest, I thought it also needed an alternative to the beeswax candles made by beekeeper’s (sorry beekeeper’s)!

Of course, on each of these fronts there are literally tens of thousands if not millions of people who are trying to make a difference. Does that make our voice or our actions irrelevant?  Personally I don’t think so.  Change will happen when enough consumers demand it happen (it can, of course, be helped along by governments and the courts as in the case of the neonicotinoid ban in the EU).

One of the things that gets me up in the morning is strongly held values and convictions.  If you genuinely believe (rightly or wrongly!) that you’re making the world a better place, that the world needs what you’re offering, then it’s difficult to wile away time doing nothing!  I lament big agriculture (well big anything really… except for the Big Banana and its cohorts)!  The demands of the super market giants are making it nigh impossible for small farmers to survive.  So, we choose to support 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation beekeepers in Australia.  Our buying Australian beeswax (and paying top dollar for it) means our beekeepers can continue to make a living from beekeeping.  Our hand making every candle in Australia not only keeps those artisan skills alive, but also creates jobs.  Ditto the local foundry we support who make our Wee Willie Winkies and Dunny Lights and the local metal turner who makes all of our other metal candleholders.  If we don’t put our money where our mouth is, those skills will be lost in Australia forever.

Without exception, every well meaning friend or advisor who has looked at our figures immediately asks how we can get the cost of our wax down.  Can we blend it with a cheaper wax? Can we import beeswax? Both options are entirely possible unless of course you’re passionate about making a difference locally.  Which we are.  I never think it is someone else’s job to care about things that are within my control.  If I can have an impact, if I can make a meaningful contribution then I will, regardless of the cost.  I am passionate about Australia having viable and vibrant regional communities, about farmers being able to make a decent living working the land and so I’m going to do my darndest to support that.

We have worked hard to move our own business forward, which in doing so helps support other local Australian businesses.  It has been incredibly rewarding to have had the opportunity to have worked with some of the world’s top luxury brands.  We’ve made candles for Cartier.  Dom Perignon commissioned us to make a light sculpture which still hangs at Vue de Monde in Melbourne.  Dior lit their Sydney store opening with Queen B candles.  We’ve made candles for Swarovski and Bollinger.  The World Wildlife Fund lit the global launch event for Earth Hour with Queen B candles.  And we’ve loved collaborating with other global thinking local brands like Dinosaur Designs and Penfolds.  I believe that the more we work with brands who are globally relevant, the greater the opportunity to increase awareness about both global and local issues.

At the same time, it’s also rewarding to be creating a community here.  There is absolutely nothing like a thank you email, a card, a photograph or a call from a customer to give us a lift.  Even when a customer calls because they’re disappointed in some way (which is thankfully rare), I am so grateful that they know me well enough to know I’d want to know and that they care enough to take time out of their day to communicate.  It’s a privilege doing what we do.  It’s a privilege to be able to live your dream.  It’s a privilege to be able to support our farmers and beekeepers.  It’s a privilege to be make something that is capable of transforming your day.  It’s a gift to be able to make a difference locally, to think globally and to make something with your hands that is recognised by some of the finest brands in the world as being world class.

As consumers we have great power to create the world we want to live in by the purchasing decisions we make.  I thought it may be useful to share some of the thinking behind Queen B and the decisions we make so that you can better understand our brand and what your hard earned money is supporting!

Join the conversation - leave us a comment. We would love to know what brands do you support because of their values?

Cate xx

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