SHE Spotlight: Toni Desrosiers, Founder of Abeego
Abeego is the original beeswax company, founded by Toni Desrosiers, which makes a nature-inspired, plastic-free version of the ubiquitous plastic wrap / saran warp.
Toni disrupted the food industry and food storage industry by refocusing on nature and how it naturally stores and protects food. Instead of being air-tight, Abeego is made with beeswax, tree resin and jojoba oil infused into a hemp and organic cotton cloth so it is totally natural, compostable and antibacterial!
We are so excited to get to talk to her about her journey to founding Abeego, what the company name means, and how we can all be challenged to rethink food storage! You’ll be inspired by what she has to share!
SHE: We absolutely love beeswax wrap! It’s so logical once you know about it, but most people don’t wake up and say “I’m going to make an eco-friendly version of plastic wrap today.” How did you start experimenting with making a new version of plastic wrap?
In 2008, I was working as a nutritionist and questioned why we were wrapping our fresh living food in airtight plastic wrap. An airtight and transparent peel isn’t found in nature, instead, you’ll find lemon peels, cheese rinds, and onion skin. All breathable and opaque. This is when I set out on a mission to invent the future of food wrap.
SHE: Can you tell us a few key moments or decisions in the creation of Abeego? Take us back in time with you!
Toni: While I invented Abeego I learned a valuable lesson: Don’t study the model you are trying to disrupt too closely because you might unknowingly incorporate the same problems into your new idea.
People are surprised to learn that I didn’t study plastic wrap while creating Abeego and I think this was the key to the invention of breathable food wrap over another version of the same airtight wrap we’ve been using since the 50’s. It was time for change.
Instead of being airtight, Abeego saves food by picking up where the peels we see in nature leave off: it protects & breathes like nature's peels & rinds to preserve food longer than ever imagined.
Every peel in nature protects and breathes.
So when I invented Abeego, I set five rules to follow when sourcing the materials:
Come from nature, in their natural state
Be used as a preservative at some point in history
Be antibacterial, antiseptic, or antifungal
After inventing beeswax food wrap, I felt it was important for people to know what is touching their food. That’s the core reason why we are transparent about what Abeego is made of and the catalyst that inspired a global movement of beeswax wrap.
SHE: What does your name mean?
Toni: Originally starting out as Bumble Wrap, I knew that I was going to go beyond a food wrap, and wanted to create a new word paying homage to honey bees. After many brainstorming sessions we considered Gobeea, like “go be a change”. This felt too preachy for me and I knew we weren’t there yet. Finally, Abeego jumped off the page like it had been there all along. Turns out, Abeego is Gobeea backwards!
SHE: We love that your product is made from beeswax. What is the biggest challenge working with beeswax?
Toni: I love absolutely everything about beeswax: the smell, the golden color and the diversity from batch to batch. At Abeego we only use beeswax that has been lightly filtered through a solar-powered heating system. That means from batch to batch our beeswax is a little different depending on what flower the bees were pollinating and where they were pollinating. Some batches of our wax are a deep yellow from the bees pollinating red clover and other times it’s a light, lemony scented yellow. Since the pigment of the wax changes from time to time we keep our fabric a neutral color so we can share the beauty and diversity of the beeswax with every wrap.
SHE: What made you so passionate about reusable options and plastic-free options and how do you convince others that it matters?
Toni: In North America, we throw away over 40% of all food produced. What’s more important is what is under the compost pile.
Throwing away 40% of our food means we’re throwing away time, resources, labour, money, and transportation that was used to get that food to our tables.
Abeego is on a mission to change that. Saving food in our kitchens means saving every single resource that goes into producing every bite we eat.
Your designs are so fun! How do you choose what designs you offer?
We worked with Caribou Creative to create a design that reflects the fresh living food you’ll save in your kitchen. Even the colors represent the colors of nature.
SHE: Where would you suggest people start with adding Abeego to their kitchen?
Toni: Combining the Variety Wrap and Giant set is a great starter for someone new to Abeego. With one of each size, you can wrap up anything and everything in your kitchen! From half cut lemons and avocados, to cheese, herbs, and fresh artisan bread, Abeego has you covered.
SHE: What is your favorite, not-so-obvious use for Abeego?
Toni: Everything that lives goes in an Abeego if I think it’ll be the fridge for more than three days. I don’t dare keep asparagus, fresh herbs, mushrooms or celery in the crisper naked. Without the natural second skin Abeego provides, these delicate and, let’s face it, expensive foods, lose all their natural moisture too quickly and the result is rubbery produce that no one wants to eat.
SHE: What is the biggest challenge of owning a conscious business, and how do you overcome it?
Toni: The biggest challenge we face as a conscious business is dealing with how people define a “conscious business” because everyone has their own definition. Abeego is a zero waste, all natural product that saves tons of food, reduces plastic waste and is led by an all female leadership team and yet there are still people that criticize us. The common mindset that it has to be all or nothing will never move the world to a healthy place. At Abeego we believe it’s our responsibility to do something even when we can’t do everything because every single step in the right direction is worth it.
SHE: What are your favorite sustainable, healthy, ethical (SHE) brands you use? (outside of Abeego of course! ; )
SHE: What's each of your favorite healthy guilty pleasure when the going gets tough?
Toni: I freeze the freshest local summer strawberries every summer so I can enjoy the freshness all winter. There’s something about letting frozen strawberries thaw slowly that turns them into the best naturally sweet strawberry sundae topping. Add vanilla ice cream and the tough times disappear!