In our latest installment of “Sub Spouse Small Business,” please meet Janine Bannier, a Connecticut-based submarine spouse and owner of Busy Bee Sustainable Kitchen Wares. Passionate about the environment, Janine went on her own journey to reduce waste in her home. While doing so, she found many low-waste and zero-waste products were difficult to find or expensive. Read on to learn more!
Name: Janine Bannier
Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Current Duty Station: Submarine Base New London (Groton, CT)
Q: Tell us about your business.
Busy Bee Sustainable Kitchen Wares is a new business currently located in Mystic, Connecticut. All products are handmade and focus on reducing waste. Our best seller is our Beeswax Wraps, which take the place of a plastic cling wrap. They are reusable, compostable, and super cute!
Q: What made you choose this type of business?
I am passionate about reducing waste, especially single use plastics. In my own journey to reduce waste in my home I found that many low-waste and zero-waste products are either difficult to find, expensive, or require a type of lifestyle change I wasn’t yet ready to make. I strive to create low waste items that are easy to use and clean, accessible, and affordable.
Q: What motivated you to start your business?
I started my business in January of 2020 after my holiday gifts of reusable sandwich baggies were a hit with my family and friends. I wanted to try my hand at making one of my favorite reusable products – beeswax wraps! My spouse was so supportive of me while I used most of my free time (and most of our kitchen counter space) to develop and make beeswax wraps to share with my friends and family members. He was the one who suggested that I make more to sell at farmers markets and craft fairs.
Every event I go to I meet a mix of people. Some are like me, who are passionate about reducing waste, and some are people who are curious about getting rid of plastic and want to learn more. I love talking with people about how they reduce waste – many people have fantastic ideas, but need access to waste reducing products! I soon realized that my little hobby had become a huge passion, and that passion has grown into a business.
Q: How do you manage the work/life balance as a submarine spouse?
I currently work part time for a local college as well as run my own business. My husband is currently on sea duty, which keeps us both pretty busy. With the onset of COVID-19 this year, the majority of my work takes place at home, which allows me to be flexible with my time. I have learned some multitasking and productivity skills, but mostly, I have learned to set boundaries. Learning when to say “no”, was tough – I have had to turn down work opportunities to keep myself healthy and sane. Letting my family know when I need time and space to work was also a difficult boundary to set, but that is the one that has led to my success. I like to involve my husband in the business when I can. I cut fabric while we binge watch Netflix and show off new fabrics while we sip morning coffee. My husband will even join me at a farmers market or craft fair (or just drop off a much needed latte) when his schedule and COVID-19 restrictions allow. It has been a great adventure so far, and I hope to bring the business with me when we do eventually PCS to our next duty station.
Q: Any advice for fellow submarine spouses who want to start their own business?
It is okay to follow your own dreams! Submarine life comes with some really wonderful adventures and some pretty unique challenges, which can seem to take over your life sometimes. But, you can make time for yourself, your dreams, and your own career. If you are passionate about your business, it is so rewarding and fulfilling.
Also, be patient with yourself. It is okay to feel overwhelmed or exhausted, even when you are passionate about your business! It is okay to take a day off when you need one, even though being our own boss means you “call in sick” to yourself. Finding the balance that works best for you and your family will lead to greater success and happiness, which is what it’s all about.
Q: Favorite thing(s) to do in your current duty station?
Seasons! This is the first time in our Navy life that we have lived in a place with four full seasons. The autumn leaves in Connecticut are stunning and winter is pretty magical, too. Spring brings that wonderful salty sea air smell and summers by the sea are both lazy and adventurous. You are so close to so many different kinds of places – two hours to big city life and two hours to the snow capped mountains. Weekend trips are pretty great!
Q: Where can we support and learn more about your business?
Do you want to nominate yourself or someone for our Sub Spouse Small Business profiles? Email us at TheSubmergedLife@Gmail.com.