What more can a shopper ask for than good products supporting a great town? Many would say not much, and Boston & Bale delivers just that. Co-founders Michelle Wax and Elise Beck are hoping to bring straight-from-Boston products to you with little fuss and a whole lot of help for local businesses and organizations.
Wax said in a phone interview that the idea for the startup came on a bike ride through Cambridge that brought herself and Beck to an unfamiliar farmer’s market. Upon seeing the stores of quality yet little-known goods, Wax was reminded of her own, newly-minted business Kitchen Millie and the struggle of connecting with consumers.
“It’s really hard to get the word out about a new product,” she said, referring to the difficulty small-scale producers face in reaching buyers amidst the billboards and advertisement barrage that big-name companies can afford. The sad reality is that if you never go out to farmers’ markets you’ll never discover the wonderful products your neighbors are making right in their own homes, and that’s a gap Wax and Beck want to help fill.
Right now, Boston & Bale is partnered with six “makers,” as they call them, including Wax’s own Kitchen Millie. Other goodies will come from places like Pure7 Chocolate, Extras by Alaina, and Atlantic Saltworks, to name a few. Each bale, set to start shipping this August, features an assortment of three to four products from these purveyors and a “Maker Card”, which gives a more in depth look at the companies behind the unique wares.
“We want people who are putting in the hard work and taking a chance on themselves,” Wax explained. “We buy their products at wholesale price up front, so that Makers feel supported.”
This method comes contrary to other, gift-box businesses, which often pay contributors by individual consumer order rather than all at once when the product is featured.
But the goodwill doesn’t stop there. On top of trying to do right by Makers, Wax and Beck are donating 10 percent of sales each month to a different Boston charity or helping organization to bring their community focus a step further.
Wax added: “We want to support a variety of organizations, but we haven’t nailed down a list just yet.”
As for what’s actually shipping first time around, Wax says, “We like the element of surprise,” and is giving few hints.
So if community sustainability is your thing, this may be the perfect monthly gift to yourself. Or who knows? Maybe grandma might love the surprise of a handmade candle and some cookies without having to go farther than her front door. Either way, this startup is definitely one to watch in the coming months.
Photo courtesy of Boston & Bale.