Meridian Industrial

IT'S A WRAP

3/1/2019 | Stephanie Trombley

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For those who have lived in a small home, many are familiar with the struggle of maintaining various different sizes of reusable containers and their lids. It can become chaos in the cabinets. Plastic bags are always a storage option, but typically, they are used only once before being tossed. There was a gap in sustainability and eco-friendly options to Z Wraps founder and CEO Michelle Zimora. This was the driving force behind Z Wraps, reusable beeswax food wraps that help keep items such as cheese, vegetables and fruit fresh.

“I think it’s really great to be able to have an option for being able to reduce your use of single-use plastic. I had seen some of the options that were out there about a year and a half ago and I was really interested in them. I thought it sounded like a really great option to get away from the plastic bags I was using,” Michelle shared.

Through a process of trial and error, Michelle created Z Wraps. In 2017, Michelle coated a piece of fabric to test the idea. “I come from a family of makers. I used to sew, so I thought, ‘Let me see if I can make one with some of the fabric I have, love and was drawn to.’ When I did that, it didn’t come out so great, but I loved the way that it looked,” Michelle shared.

After more testing, Michelle was able to create the perfect combination of ingredients for a Z Wrap. She began sending her daughters to school with sandwiches wrapped in the creation the next day.
The final product is handcrafted with 100% cotton fabrics, beeswax, organic jojoba oil and tree resin. The wrap reacts to the warmth of the consumer’s hands to seal around food or the lid of a container. The fabric used is designed by Susy Pilgrim-Waters from Boston and Hadley Printing locally prints the labels on the completely compostable packaging.
After good reception from family, Michelle decided to expand her creations, ensuring that they met specific criteria. “We make them out of 100% cotton that’s really soft and we focus really hard on finding a fabric that would make the end result easy to use. That took a long time to find the right fabric that was still soft and pliable after being coated,” Michelle said.

The primary goal for Z Wraps is “where pretty meets practical.” Michelle wanted the wraps to be appealing to look at and user-friendly for someone breaking the habit of using plastic.
“We wanted it to work as easy the first time as it possibly could. A lot of work went into that and finding the right ratios. It was important that, when you stuck it down, it would function in a way that you’d want to keep using it. When you’re trying to switch from something you’ve been using for a long time, you want it to be easy,” Michelle shared.
While the wraps are good for the planet, Michelle said they are also good for the food inside of them. “It keeps your food nicer. It preserves your food really well. It’s like you’re putting the peel back on the produce and locks the moisture in to keep it fresh longer.”

Michelle explained that using Z Wraps will extend the lifespan of produce. “At the end of the typical seven days food has to stay fresh, you can still use it vs. it being dried out and slimy. When you have that half lemon or half avocado that’s usually gone bad by the end of the week, if you wrap it in a Z Wrap, it slows down oxidation. The avocado that wasn’t finished or the apple your child took two bites out of will last.”
Each Z Wrap lasts at least 100 washes, or about 6-12 months. Cold and soapy water ensures that each wrap lasts up to its full potential. Michelle explained that soap is mostly necessary in cases where items like cheese are stored in the wrap. A simple rinse will work for produce items.

In an age where customers are looking for more sustainable ways to live, Z Wraps replace the need for unnecessary plastic. “There’s such a great awareness now that our behavior needs to change, however big or small. If there’s a way I can help people make that choice easier and more beautiful so it’s easier to use, if it makes it easier to reduce their use of single-use plastic, I’ve done my part to help. It’s a really great example for my three and six year-olds,” Michelle shared.

Among the benefits of Z Wraps is the ease of storage and cost-efficiency. “Z Wraps are perfect to be rolled up in a little bowl, or you can store them flat in a drawer. They’re more cost-efficient. You’re saving on what’s going into the ocean eventually and landfills that doesn’t break down. It looks beautiful at the same time. There are so many reasons it’s such a great thing to use,” Michelle said.

The company is currently celebrating their recent move to the Eastworks building in Easthampton. Since October, Z Wraps has utilized the space as a production studio. Michelle said that the bright sunlight shining through the windows in the studio only adds to the positive workplace.

“What’s really great about where we are in terms of growth is we are able to be flexible with our schedule and our needs. Everybody here has kids. We can have our team be able to leave and go get them. It feels really good as someone with a family to understand what it’s like to have those things come up and to be flexible for my team. It’s important to make sure everyone is happy and feeling important, having their needs met inside and outside,” Michelle said.

Michelle believes that having a great team by her side, including manager Cathy, has only contributed to the successful growth of the company. “I don’t know what I would do without Cathy. She makes things run around here. She started with production, but now she’s managing a small team. She’s taking on a big leadership role with a team growing right before her eyes. She’s doing a phenomenal job. We are really expanding and who knows how quickly. We are excited to see where it can keep growing.”

As the business expands, Michelle said she hopes to keep the light and family-friendly atmosphere up at the Eastworks production studio. “Support is what you have to have to be able to clear your mind and make sure you can get your work done. It creates a great work atmosphere. It’s a place where you want to stay. We are creating a family environment where staff is happy to walk through the door. It’s natural and easy.”

A personal connection to the product helps connect staff with the final result, according to Michelle. “It comes through in the way the product looks. People care about how the product is folded and that it is forward facing. That is really important. That would be a problem, but it never happens because people really care. It’s something they use at home on a regular basis and they want the world to know it’s something made with love and it comes through.”

Michelle said that Valley Venture Mentors, an entrepreneurial support community, has contributed to her success. “I went through their program. They have been a big source for me feeling comfortable. When I think of people with an idea thinking, ‘Where do I go? How do I get support?’ They are an amazing network of people that are there to help field your ideas. I think it’s a great community and place to go if you have questions. It’s great to share how you’ve done it. I don’t know what I would’ve done.”

Michelle continued, “It can be daunting and to know that there are people who are excited to hear your ideas to help you across your journey is really powerful to learn about. I can’t believe what has happened in the past 18 months. It’s 70-100 hours to get to where I am and I’ve loved every minute of it. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

Z Wraps are available for purchase at myzwraps.com and in locations including The Baker’s Pin in Northampton, and Mountain View Farm and Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton.
For a full store locator, please visit the Z Wraps website.

 

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