May's Featured Producer Partner | Gayane Der Stepanyan and BeeArt "Bee the Change"
Gayane Der Stepanyan is a 27 year old entrepreneur from Spitak in the Lori region of Armenia. Spitak is a city that was terribly devastated after the earthquake of 1988. Since the earthquake, it has been extremely difficult for the people of Spitak to find work in their city. Many of the men have moved to Russia for work, sending monthly sums of money to their families and only able to visit once a year. As a single woman living with her parents, this did not sit well with Gayane, she wanted more for herself and her people.
A souvenir candle that she purchased from a trip abroad was the trigger for the brilliant idea of BeeArt. She realized there were no candle producers in Armenia and seized the opportunity. She started the company in 2014 with just a few bee hives to produce the beeswax candles. Since then she has been able to expand to at least 20 hives with a new demand for honey production as well.
BeeArt currently has 5 full-time employees ranging from their 20’s to 50’s. One man, who is in charge of the woodwork portion, makes the candleholders. The other 4 employees are women who make the candles. Gayane even has her parents helping tend the hives!
Gayane is very proud of the progress they have made so far. Her biggest accomplishment is being able to employ Spitak locals. She plans on expanding BeeArt in the realm of tourism. They currently offer master classes for people to visit Spitak and learn how to roll their own beeswax candles as a souvenir to take home. She hopes to gain a larger audience with this outreach, which will allow her to hire more locals.
“I became a more responsible person. I realized I was not responsible just for myself, but I am responsible for my workers and clients as well. I feel proud to be able to help and be useful for my town.” Gayane's words inspire us each day, and help remind us of our purpose at HDIF.