In this Q&A, DTC Daily speaks to Carly Stein, founder of science-based, healing products and natural medicines company (and DTC brand!) Beekeeper’s Naturals. Carly outlines her company’s most recent round of funding, how the brand has grown since being founded in 2016, and what the future holds.
Why did you decide to create Beekeeper’s, and sell your products via direct-to-consumer?
Our story all started with a semester abroad in Europe. Four months of sightseeing and travel finally caught up with me in Florence, where my tonsils ballooned to the size of a golf ball. Facing the prospect of cutting my trip short for surgery, I began a search for a less extreme solution. With my swollen chipmunk cheeks, I came across an Italian pharmacy full of wonderful bee products. After sharing my symptoms with the pharmacist, she suggested propolis, a lesser known ingredient from the beehive. Willing to try anything, I purchased it and squeezed a few drops as needed. Within days, my tonsils were back to normal and I was able to finish out my trip overseas!
Once home, I was unable to find bee propolis on the shelves of my local health food stores and pharmacies. I had to dig deep to find this secret weapon. So I began apprenticing with a local beekeeper and dedicated myself to learning more about the bees and what they have to offer. This little expedition sparked a passion in me—along with the realisation that the vast majority of people do not have access to this extraordinary product. So, I decided that it was up to me to get this magical stuff directly into their hands—and so, Beekeeper’s Naturals was born.
You’ve recently announced a USD$3.5m funding round (congratulations!) – what are you planning to do with the funds?
We’re very excited to partner with Sonoma Brands for the next phase of our growth. As we revamp the medicine cabinet and lead a new category, we are poised to bring Beekeeper’s Naturals and the extraordinary health benefits of the beehive to the masses!
We’ll be will be using this raise to do further R&D in developing natural, clean, sustainable, and effective alternatives for the medicine cabinet, while also expanding our retail distribution.
How has the brand grown and developed since you launched in 2016?
Since I left Goldman Sachs to go full time, Beekeeper’s Naturals has grown to a seven figure business in just over two years—with a 350% year over year growth rate (and our website sales have grown over 1500% year over year).
In terms of funding, we closed our seed round at the start of 2018, which was highlighted by investments from Cameron Diaz and Wild Ventures, and by becoming Thrive Market
Ventures’ first portfolio company. This supported the necessary growth of our hive, which has grown from 3 team members at the start of 2018 to over 20, currently.
What channels do you use to bring new customers to the Beekeeper’s brand?
We have been very selective with the retail partners we work with at this stage—with our primary focus being on e-commerce through our website, Amazon, and Thrive Market. However, we’ve partnered with a variety of locations across Canada and the United States, such as Erewhon Market, along with other retailers who promote a strong community presence.
What has the future got in store for Beekeeper’s?
As a certified B Corporation, we are helping lead the charge to preserve the world’s bee populations. Our goal is to continue reaching out to a wider audience and delivering game-changing natural solutions to modern ailments, all while providing real environmental support for our pollinators.
Of course, we are still living in a world where the average person thinks the bees only make honey. Because of that, we are tasked with a massive consumer education campaign to help people understand what these hive remedies are and why they can help them feel better. We are working hard to make our natural products accessible and understood so that people with varying degrees of nutraceutical savvy can benefit from incorporating cleaner products into their routine—like losing the sugary cough syrup in favour of nourishing propolis, or supporting their brain health with royal jelly and plant based adaptogens, et cetera.
At the same time, we are working hard to be a voice for the bees, trying to express the impact they have on our global environment and food supply, raising awareness and enthusiasm, and giving people opportunities to get involved.
In terms of upcoming products, we will be sharing our newest innovations by the end of this year, which will continue to drive our mission of revolutionising the medicine cabinet.