Looking to cause a buzz and make a difference, 25-year-old Murphy McVey of Hawthorne launched her company Bee Magical Jewelry to raise awareness and help the bees.
After learning about the declining bee populations, McVey crafted wish bracelets with a bee charm to sell through her website. Partnering with the New York Bee Sanctuary, 10 percent of all proceeds are donated. In addition, all bracelets are accompanied by a package of wildflower seeds for people to plant around the yard to give back to the bees.
Bee Magical Jewelry, which, according to McVey, had been on her “dream board” for 2 years now, officially launched 6 months ago, and its website went live in November of 2017.
“Honestly, I just saw an article about how bee populations are declining, and I was distraught after,” McVey said. “I was always the kid that ate a ton of fruit and vegetables and flowers are my favorite thing ever. It [The article] just said that bees are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat and that everything depends crucially on bee pollination and without them, we wouldn’t have fruit or flowers left. We could do the pollination ourselves, but everything would be so expensive. I kept reading into it and it just became a thing that I wouldn’t stop talking about. Finally, someone said, ‘Well, why don’t you do something about it.’ I became that annoying person that wouldn’t shut up about the bees – it hasn’t gotten better. So, I just started learning and figuring out what I could do, and then I got the idea to start a little business.”
Originally, McVey considered starting the company as a greeting card business since she had calligraphy experience. The cards were meant to feature a hand-drawn bee, and that design quickly was converted into the logo for the company and then was converted into a stamp that now goes on the envelope with the wildflower seed bag.
After that design was figured out, McVey was reminded of the wish bracelets – a “kind of flimsy” bracelet, said McVey, that feature a charm and once they fall off, wearers are supposed to get what they wish for. She found a black bee charm she painted gold and so, with that and her past craft experience with her mom growing up, she knew that the wish bracelet was what she wanted to make.
“I have the whole theme of Bee Brave, Bee Kind, Bee Happy, all that, and so I tie the bracelet to the card and have the poem about the wish and personalize it,” McVey said. “Then inside the card, I have an information sheet on the bee’s situation and how you can help and what you can do. I also include a small bag of pollinator-friendly wildflower seeds, and I’m hoping that families will toss the seeds down and make a corner of their yard or flower boxes. It’s the best way for me to help. Not only is it me raising awareness – because most people don’t even know this is happening, it also keeps people mindful and learning about the issue.”
Each bracelet is on recyclable thread and the envelopes are also made from recyclable paper. McVey has been dedicated to ensuring everything about her product is environmentally sustainable.
“It’s good, like the envelope carries everything in it, so there’s no excess packaging,” she said.
To make her bracelets, McVey is a one-person show. She does everything from the painting of the charms, the putting together of the bracelet, the stamping of the envelope and all of the packaging. For her website though, her father helped her, as he works in web design. Since the site’s launch in November, McVey has already sold a few hundred, she said, and she will also be at the Philadelphia Flower Show selling her bracelets.
“I’m glad people are giving me the opportunity,” she said. “I didn’t think things would pick up so fast. People are really on board with it because, sure, it’s a cute little product, but people like helping. I really believe that’s what pushes me forward. People are really receptive to helping and pitching in and giving me the opportunity to try, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. It’s been crazy to see how people all over the world are interested in my product. I’m just a girl from Hawthorne, N.J. and now I have people in Ireland and Germany buying from me. The best moment of my life was when I got a wholesale order for 300 bracelets and I’m there in my pajamas getting the email. I had only just launched my website, and a bee-keeping website wanted my product. They took professional images too and wanted to put it on the website, and I was just screaming I was so happy.”
Moving forward, McVey wants to keep her focus on making a difference. Bee Magical Jewelry’s website is not just a site for McVey’s bracelets; it also features different tips on how to help the bees and ways to give back. Her goal is to raise as much awareness as possible to help the bees.
“It makes me feel so good being part of a community that’s on the frontline to save these bees and maybe secure a future the bees wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for my efforts combined with everyone else’s. A profit would be great, but I would mostly love to see the numbers rise and see more people talking about it – more awareness, little things here and there. But, you’d be surprised what could make a huge difference,” she said. “People are really supportive. It’s just getting started, and it’s something I love, so I’m never going to quit on myself here.”
Bee Magical Jewelry is so much more than just a company for McVey. To her, it is her raison d’être – reason for being, she said. She has focused her whole future on making a difference and helping this cause.
“This is something I care about,” she said. “It’s not a day in the office. I am struggling; I gave up a full-time job to do this, so that’s a huge cut and it means investing in myself. I didn’t pick the best time [to do so] because I just got an apartment, but I care about this and I’m proud to tell people I do it and that has just changed who I am as a person. My other jobs were doing work for other people and other people’s passions and now I get to do my own and I just hope it grows and is successful.”
With information included in every purchase on how to help the bees, McVey encourages everyone to get as involved as possible. The problem with bees is one that affects everyone around the world and is one that everyone can do something to help fix. Bee Magical Jewelry hopes to help be part of the change and help the bees as much as it can.
“Maybe not everyone needs to be on the frontline, but every action has a reaction and if you buy these bracelets, you’re doing a little, you’re doing your part. If you plant the wildflowers, even better,” McVey said. “My product provides a little bag of them, but there can always be more. I’m hoping everyone wants to do a little, but it won’t cost an arm and a leg to make a difference; I think the change will be made from little things adding up. Seeing a big problem like this can be overwhelming, but taking it bit by bit, it’s able to be tackled.”
More information on Bee Magical Jewelry can be found at www.beemagicaljewelry.com or on Instagram, @beemagicaljewelry.
By Tara DeLorenzo
Photos by Mann Lake Ltd.