Say hello to Vanessa of Baltimore Bumble Crafts! This earthy crunchy lady is all about doing good for the planet and she works to ensure that her business actively contributes to this effort. Read all about her all natural products and eco-friendly practices in this week’s vendor profile. Vanessa joins us every month on the plaza so be sure to re-stock up on her products in July!
1. Who are you, where are you from and how are you known at the market?
Hi! I’m Vanessa, sometimes known as “The Bee Lady,” and I sell handcrafted, all-natural, organic skincare. I’m from the Baltimore area, hence the name of my shop: Baltimore Bumble Crafts.
My family has always been a bit “crunchy,” and we love all-natural, real ingredients and home remedies. Since I’ve always struggled with healthy skin myself, when the opportunity to learn about soap-making presented itself, I leapt at the chance! A few years ago, I was dating a man who had suffered from eczema since childhood. His mother taught herself to make soap to deal with his skin condition, and she taught me. And while he wasn’t a keeper, soap-making was! These days, I’m working hard to establish the business, and I hope to make this my full-time job in the coming years.
3. Why do you do what you do? What is so special about your business?
I do this because I care about respecting our planet, promoting good health, and establishing some autonomy for myself and my customers.
I’ve always loved bees, and when I heard about Colony Collapse Disorder, I realized how devastating that could be to our planet. To that end, I donate part of the profits of my business to Pollinator Partnership to fund research on CCD. As I explored the benefits or essential oils, I came to realize that certain species were endangered by our use of those oils, so I also donate part of my profits to the Sustainable Sandalwood Foundation. On a more regular basis, I use re-used, recycled, and recyclable materials in my packaging. In fact, if you bring back the tins or jars from a previous purchase, you receive 75 cents off your next purchase!
I believe that what you put on your body is as important as what you put in your body. To that end, I use only recognizable, food-grade ingredients in my products. You’ll notice that most of my products are solids: soap bars, solid shampoos, solid lotion bars, etc. Doing this allows me to use far fewer preservatives, and you’ll be surprised how short the ingredient lists are! There are no surprises, and when I say “all-natural,” I mean it.
Autonomy is important to me, but so is interconnectedness. Running a one-woman business means that I can oversee the process from start to finish, from purchasing supplies to discussing finished products with customers. But that moment, when I’m standing in the market talking to you about soap, is the best part of this whole business. I can be confident in the quality of my work, and responsive to your needs. Selling and shopping at FSM should be an empowering experience, and I try to make time to talk with each customer, addressing your needs, answering your questions, and never pressuring you to purchase an inappropriate item. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I price my items so that every products “earns” me the same amount of money. This means that I will never recommend a more expensive product to you unless I genuinely think it will be more appropriate for your needs.
4. What do you love about FSM?
I love so much about FSM that I honestly don’t know where to start, but if I had to pick, I would say the community of vendors. While I’ve never had a chance to attend one of the vendor support meetings, I have made so many friends at this market, gotten so much good advice, and found real opportunities for growth here. My days here may not be the biggest shows I do all year, but I always look forward to the 3rd Saturday of the month, when I get to come to FSM. And to be honest, I feel just a teensy bit sad on the other three Saturdays of the month when I’m not here. Oh, and I love crêpes …