Award-winning recipe comes with a sting for Cowichan beauty firm

Kelsey Peck tries a sample of the Mid-Island Science and Technology and Innovation award-winning face cream from Sebastien Martin, CEO and co-founder of Wedderspoon - Andrew Leong
Kelsey Peck tries a sample of the Mid-Island Science and Technology and Innovation award-winning face cream from Sebastien Martin, CEO and co-founder of Wedderspoon
— image credit: Andrew Leong

Allergies aside, a bee sting can subtract years from your appearance, or at least, its venom can.

Sebastien Martin and his wife Catherine Wedderspoon-Martin have introduced a brand-new product on the North American market named Wedderspoon Organic’s Queen of the Hive, an organic face mask made with bee venom.

Martin credits his wife’s year-long effort in researching the best formula for the product before launching it in stores last May.

“Catherine worked on the product for a full year. We came up with a successful recipe that combined manuka honey and bee venom. In the U.K., bee venom is already considered a therapy for Multiple Sclerosis and arthritic conditions. We were already aware of the use of bee venom because beekeepers had never developed arthritic conditions. They get stung by bees and they don’t usually get arthritis.”

In recognition for developing an innovative product that has the potential to improve quality of life, Wedderspoon Organic won this year’s Mid-Island Science, Technology and Innovation Council’s (MISTIC) award for Excellence in Innovation. It has been nominated twice before and this year it was third time lucky.

Queen of the Hive is like nothing else on the market so Martin had nothing else to compare their product with. They had to start from scratch.

“We worked with a laboratory all along. It was all tested and done properly.”

Wedderspoon uses only organic products, including the New Zealand-imported manuka honey the Martins started their business with six years ago after their car broke down in Duncan.

“My wife is from England and I’m from France. We were fed up living in Quebec so we sold everything and moved with our two cats and Westfalia to Vancouver Island without even seeing it. We broke down in Duncan. My gear shift wouldn’t work anymore.”

It launched its first Wedderspoon Organics product from their rented log cabin in Chemainus, which soon became too small so they bought a house in Duncan. The company grew quickly so they sold their house and bought a 30-acre parcel in Duncan and created an organic herb farm. Between the two ventures, the couple now employs 25 people. Martin is grateful to the business community in Duncan for believing in their product.

“When we started our business we were struggling to sell to the stores. We were the first ones to sell manuka honey and no one was willing to give it a go. Now we are well-recognized in Duncan. The Community Farm Store,  Mercia’s and Lynn’s Vitamins are great supporters.”

Today, Wedderspoon Organics sells its 45 products in 27 countries around the world and in more than 10,000 stores across North America. It has recently placed products in London pharmacy John Bell and Croyden, where the Queen of England shops.

"She usually applies her stamp on products she uses. We are aiming for that."

Even though Queen of the Hive is new for the company, demand for the product is high.

"The response is great and since May it's already representing 20% of sales for the company. To have that kind of brand recognition after a few months is impressive. We've never seen that kind of growth before. We are already intending to expand the product line. It's pretty exciting for us."



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