From trading analyst to beekeeper, Carly Stein struck entrepreneurial success with natural wellness products that challenge today’s pharmaceutical aisle. Today, Beekeeper’s Naturals is experiencing sales spikes due to the rise in demand for immunity-boosting products and expanding into major retail partnerships for added accessibility. Here, Carly shares her founding story, how the brand is responding to Covid-19 and how they’re leaning into SMS marketing to connect with consumers.
Tell us why you chose to start Beekeeper’s Naturals.
I grew up not being able to take traditional over-the-counter medicines due to an autoimmune condition. I was studying abroad in 2012 and came down with tonsillitis, and was scared I’d get so sick that I’d need to come home. I went to a local pharmacy in search of a remedy and found bee propolis, a natural substance that bees make containing 300 beneficial compounds and support immunity. I tried it and it actually worked. When I got home to Canada, I realized there wasn’t a brand that offered that type of product that also delivered on quality and efficacy. Fascinated to learn more about hive-derived ingredients, I became a beekeeper during my senior year of college and learned how to formulate my own products. My passion stuck, and in 2017, I left my post-grad trading job at Goldman Sachs to launch Beekeeper's Naturals.
What challenges or opportunities has the pandemic presented?
The health and wellness space is experiencing a time like no other right now and we know that our customers are wanting immunity-supporting products more than ever. We care deeply about our community and are offering 50% off all of our products to anyone working on the frontlines through the Covid-19 crisis, from healthcare professionals to grocery store workers.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a huge surge in orders, over 5x our daily average, which ironically is causing us to face challenges we’ve never had before. We’re adapting daily to get our products in the hands of people who want them now and have essentially turned our entire team into customer service associates in order to handle the influx.
How have you adapted your marketing strategies in response?
We always strive to provide value add content that is both high quality and relevant for our community. Due to the pandemic, we’ve pushed back everything we had initially planned for these months and have reoriented our content and creative strategy to offer unique SMS content that supports people in staying connected, healthy, positive, and inspired and to encourage a conversation. We've seen great engagement and high click-through rates as a result. We are working more on our SMS strategy to create interactive info and share uplifting content, as well as testing additional advertising mediums like podcast advertising for acquiring new customers.
We also took initiative to directly support the front-line workers in our customer base, which led us to start sharing their inspiring stories with our community through various channels.
What’s new for the brand?
As of May 1, Beekeeper's Naturals products are officially available in 422 Whole Foods Market locations across the U.S. We are so pleased to be partnering with a retailer who shares in our commitment to high-quality products, clean ingredients, and sustainability. This is a huge step for us as we work towards our mission of making clean and effective health solutions more widely accessible.
We also have exciting launches in the works as we continue to address common health concerns with clean and powerful remedies. We’re coming off the heels of launching B.Soothed Cough Syrup, which was a formula we were working on for nearly two years.
How are you conveying the benefits of your products to potential consumers?
Our goal is to make the powerful healing properties of the hive ingredients (and of nature in general) widely known. Most people don’t know that bees make other products beyond honey, so we make sure to prioritize education from the ground up. We have an incredible creative team that is amazing at finding new and innovative ways to educate our consumers through engaging and inspiring content—whether that’s newsletters, blog posts, social media, videos, or something entirely different.
How are you thinking about customer retention?
We put a lot of effort into providing value-add content and building our ‘hive community.’ We work to be a source of support and inspiration that people can turn to—one that extends beyond our product offerings. From curated workout videos to engaging newsletter and SMS sends, we deliver fresh, unique and exciting content to support our customers and keep them involved.
What advice would you give to other founders?
One of the most important things I have learned on this journey is the value of having a good team. Your team is everything. Listen to your gut and work with people who are positive, inspiring, hardworking, and push you to be the best leader you can be. Being a founder is challenging, but having a solid team on your side makes all the difference.