An Interview with Ian Fraser, owner of Busy Bee Beeswax in Tweed, Ontario

By Donna Marrin

Tell us about your business and how you started it.
In the spring of 2001, I was working in the fibre optics industry in Ottawa and was laid off, along with about 10,000 people across the region. So I moved to my cottage and tried to figure out how I could eke out an existence whilst living a simple life in a cabin in the woods with no running water. One day it came to me—beeswax candles. I started my business with $20, and within three years, I was the fifth largest beeswax candle company in Canada, with annual sales over $100k. And enjoying the simple life.

What was your early vision for your business, and how has it changed over time?
Initially all I wanted was to be able to pay the bills and live a simple life.

What has your biggest learning curve been in terms of building your business?
When I started in the beeswax candle business 10 years ago, there wasn't anyone around teaching candle-making workshops. Fortunately, I had a technical background and the stubbornness to persevere through the learning process so I could figure out how to do it on my own.

Can you share any interesting facts about beeswax?
Beeswax is the only real wax on the planet that occurs naturally in any quantity with very little “processing.” Beeswax is a renewable resource, and when it’s burning, does not pollute the air with any toxic chemicals.

Describe a day in the life…
When I first wake up, I check email and take care of any customer correspondence. Since I ship coast to coast, and deal with five time zones, I’m open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., which is, in my reality, 8 a.m. to 8 a.m. I stay close to the phone and email throughout the day while I work in the shop and around the yard. I have five cleaning tanks running 24/7 that I use to clean 50,000 pounds of beeswax per year.

How do you find balance between your business life and your home life?

I eat sleep and breathe beeswax, beeswax candles and beekeeping.

How would you describe your ideal day?
Take orders, talk to customers, share what I know with others, take an afternoon nap and, above all else, make a difference in the lives of other people by helping them fulfill their potential.

Do you have a favorite business tool or resource?
Early on in my journey, I taught myself how to create my own websites, which I am constantly updating and submitting to free listing directories to increase my page ranking with search engines.

What is the key to your success?
I treat my customers the way I would like to be treated.

What is the one piece of advice you would like to give to others who are thinking about starting a business?
Patience, perseverance, pride.

IAN FRASER was born in the Yukon Territories. His father was employed by the Federal government, which led to moving around quite a bit. In his travels, he gained an appreciation for nature and the beauty of our country. He graduated from college after studying electronic engineering, and performed field service for many of the large business machine companies. Before being laid off in 2001, Ian worked in the fibre optics industry. Today, he operates three businesses from his home—beeswax candle making, beeswax production and beekeeping supplies—with the assistance of his wife. During his journey, he has helped others along the way by teaching thousands of people how to realize their potential in an industry that constantly grows as the world becomes more in tune with natural products. To learn more, visit: and

By Adam

July 20, 2011