KENNETT SQUARE—When Adriana and Peter Fitzgerald traveled to Australia on their honeymoon in February, they made a “pinkie promise challenge” to each other not to use plastic.
This led them to being more thoughtful—and more local and adventurous—in their consumption. “When you impose limitations and observe rules like this,” Adriana says, “it reminds you that things are beautiful because we take care of them.”
At a market in Sydney near the end of this trip, they met someone selling beeswax wraps. “I held one in my hands and felt that I wanted to make and sell these,” Adriana says, “for my good and health, for the planet, and for other people.” She was also intrigued by the fascinating, rediscovered history of beeswax wraps. As far back as the seventh century in Egypt, people used beeswax wraps to preserve food. Because beeswax-infused fabric is breathable and anti-microbial, food stays fresh longer.
After returning from Australia, Adriana was in the midst of the frustrating process of job hunting when she decided to gather ingredients and try her hand at creating beeswax wraps. After several failed attempts, she perfected her recipe and technique and began making wraps for herself and family members.
In May, Adriana asked if she could bring some wraps to sell at the First Friday Flea Market where Peter was selling rocks and crystals. She found she loved not only sharing her beautiful product, but also being able to give people a better alternative to plastic.
Adriana recognizes that plastic has a place in many applications, but it’s also imperative that we reduce our consumption of single-use plastic. Every year, an average American family uses several dozen rolls of plastic cling wrap. Peter, who wrote his college thesis on the precarious state of the US solid waste industry, says, “There are ships floating around, filled with plastic, with nowhere to go.”
It’s a global issue, but it’s also a healthy choice and a natural extension of buying from local growers and producers. “We’re conscious about the food we eat,” Adriana says, “but we also need to think about how we store that food. We can buy something that’s fresh and organic, but if we put it in plastic, it comes into contact with the kinds of chemicals and toxins we’re trying to avoid.”
Her wraps also make sense because they extend the shelf life of everything from fruits and vegetables to bread and snacks. As one enthusiastic customer says, the true test is the avocado: “I wrapped half of an avocado and left it in the fridge for 24 hours and it didn’t brown.”
Adriana’s holistic philosophy for her growing business reflects her thoughtful intentionality, values, and creativity. She sources ingredients that are local and fairly traded and recognizes that there’s a strong educational component to what she’s doing as well. “Not many people know about this, or think through the implications of the plastic we use,” she says. She loves to explain how to use the wraps and to demonstrate the countless simple and ingenious ways to configure them.
The beeswax is made by local bees, and Adriana buys her pretty cotton fabrics from a small family business in Lancaster. As Adriana waxes each wrap by hand, she thinks about the homes they’re going to, where they’ll be part of people’s lives, keeping them safe from the harmful chemicals in plastic.
“It’s important that all of the hands that help to keep my food safe are caring and paid a fair wage,” she says. “It’s also important that the money we spend supports our local economy and people, and not big businesses.”
Her dreams for the future include working with artists to design custom fabric patterns to print and produce in the US. Adriana, who’s from Mexico, would particularly like to support the work of Latino-American artists whose work hasn’t been recognized as it should. “It’s about the little things,” Adriana says. “And those little things can be both beautiful and make a difference.”
Adriana and Peter moved to Kennett Square from New York City last November, and they both enjoy connecting with the community here and appreciate the diversity and kindness of the people they’ve met. Customers can find Bee Our Guest wraps on Etsy, but Adriana is at the KSQ Farmers Market every Friday and it’s much more fun (and ecofriendly) to shop in person.
Founded in 1986 as the Kennett Square Main Street Association, Historic Kennett Square is a volunteer driven, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, focused on Kennett Square’s economic well-being, historical integrity, programmatic development, vibrant culture, and urban hospitality.