Meet the Maker

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Julie the founder of Neve’s Bees & after graduating with a Chemistry Degree, and later an MBA I spent 30 years working in corporate marketing for companies such as Unilever and GSK, then various marketing agencies running workshops for Marketing Teams around the world. It was whilst running a workshop in Brazil for McCain chips, the objective of which was to persuade South American mothers to feed their children frozen chips rather than fresh potatoes, that I realised I could be doing soooo much more with my time! For the last two years I’ve been running Neve’s Bees, creating and selling beeswax balms made using 100% natural ingredients with my daughter, Neve, and looking after our small holding in West Oxfordshire with my husband – Ross, and Son, Felix with our bees, chickens, cats, a dog, a wormery and a newly created 6-acre wildflower meadow. I grew up in rural Somerset and am passionate about protecting our beautiful countryside and helping others to share this passion.

What's the name of your brand?

Julie Macken, Founder of Neve's Bees


What made you start your business?

When we first moved to this area in 2011 we had the delight of dragging two bored children around various houses to find somewhere to live. On seeing a large stack of honey jars in one house, a grumpy 9 year old Neve pipes up,
“Why have you got all that honey?” to which the owner of the honey replies,
“Because I have bees”
“What, they make all that honey!”
“Yes, and they make wax and propolis and pollinate lots of flowers and trees”
Neve was blissfully quiet for the rest of the afternoon; then later,
“I think we should live in that house with those bees. I’ve spoken with Grandad Jim and I’ve asked him to get me a beehive for my birthday”
Starting from this one hive, and with help from some wonderful local beekeepers and crafts-folk, we developed a thriving apiary and have become part of a lovely beekeeping community.
…and the rest, as they say, is history!
All our products are made from 100% natural ingredients, organic (wherever possible) and produced here, in our village, in West Oxfordshire. We use no water in our products which mean we don’t need to add the synthetic preservatives or emulsifiers used in most skincare across the industry!

What is your brand ethos?

When we first started Neve’s Bees we wanted to create a brand of natural skincare that not only makes your skin look good and feel great – but smells at least as good as the popular ‘big brands’ on the market. But we were a bit tired of the rather beige look of many natural skincare brands and wanted to create a range of products that reflects the beautiful flowers and plants all around us – so Neve’s Bees is designed to be bright and cheerful, helping you to feel ready to go jump in that muddle puddle, enjoy getting wet in the run or run down that hill like you used to do

What are your current thoughts on Climate Change?

Climate change is clearly a big problem facing all of us, but equally as concerning is the loss in biodiversity that faces our planet and specifically our own country – the UK has lost 70% of its native meadow land within the last 80 years and many of our plant and animal species are facing extinction. The bees, moths, butterflies and other pollinators are key to our survival, pollinating nearly 80% of our crops. Without wild spaces on which for them to forage, they will not survive – and nor will we! We love wildlife – and for this reason we donate 5p per sale to BBOWT (our local Bucks, Berks, Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust) – we have also planted a 5 acre wildflower meadow in our bee-field

What do you love most about what you make?

I love the fact that I’m now doing something I believe in – helping people use natural skincare products, helping to save our wildlife, and spreading the ‘Happy Vibes’ I’m super excited that we have launched new product ranges with Appletree and Avalon and both share the same ethos as well as helping to support the same causes

How does your product help the environment?

We use only pure and natural ingredients, we use slider tins for our lip balms and screw top tins for our hand salves and cuticle butters, our gift packs are made from recycled board. We are very proud that, in the last year, we have donated over £1,500 from the proceeds of Neve’s Bees to help save our natural wildlife and every sale of our products count!

Don’t you just love reading how businesses start? We love the family story behind this brand! Have you tried their products yet?

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