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Greatest Hits: From a secret side hustle to a certified B Corp buzzing business, with Beekeeper’s Naturals Founder Carly Stein

by Female Startup Club
September 9th 2021

Joining me today is Carly Stein, the founder behind Beekeepers Naturals.

Founded by Carly Stein in 2017, Beekeeper's Naturals is an innovative company on a mission to reinvent the medicine ca... More

before we dive into the show. Today we have some super exciting news as of this month. Female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network, Something we love about the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup. Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. Hey, everyone just wanted to let you know that I'm taking a quick and much needed break and that means for today's show, we're going back to the archives from 2020 to bring you one of our favorite and most popular episodes. Happy listening, this is Carly Stein for female startup club. Hey everyone and welcome back to another episode of the female startup club podcast. I'm your host, Dune rasheen and joining me today is Carly Stein the founder behind beekeeper's naturals.

Founded by Cali in 2017. Beekeeper's Naturals is an innovative company on a mission to reinvent the medicine cabinet. Using unique remedies from the beehive like royal jelly and proper liss. The beekeeper led team is committed to providing the cleanest, most powerful solutions to modern health issues like brain fog, chronic stress, poor sleep and scratchy throats. Unlike competitors, they apply scientific rigor to their product development and commit to 3rd Party pesticide testing to ensure they're creating natural remedies that actually deliver. This has been one of my favorite episodes to date. Cali has such a special story and shares so much of the actual how of building her company and you're going to get plenty of valuable pieces of gold throughout. So I suggest making sure you have a note pad and pen handy and if you know someone who would benefit from hearing her story, please do share it with them and subscribe to the show. This is Carly for female startup club. Are you working around the clock to build the business you always imagined?

Do you want to communicate with your fast growing list of customers in a personalized way? But in a way that gives you time to work on the rest of your business. Do you ever wonder how the companies, you admire the ones that redefine their categories do it? Companies like living proof and chubbies. They do it by building relationships with their customers from the very beginning while also evolving in real time as their customers needs change, these companies connect quickly with their customers, collect their information and start creating personalized experiences and offers that inspire rapid purchase often within minutes of uploading their customer data. Clavijo empowers you to own the most important thing to any business. The relationship between you and your customers and the experiences you deliver from the first email to the last promotion to learn more about how Clavijo helps you own your growth visit Clavijo dot com slash F. S. C. That's K. L. A. V I Y O dot com slash F.

S. C. Female startup presence. Polly, thank you so much for joining the female startup club podcast today. I've been so looking forward to this episode and learning about your business. Thank you so much for having me. I always love to get started by having you introduce yourself and what it is that your business does. Yeah, so I'm Carly Stein, I'm the founder and Ceo of Beekeeper's Naturals and Beekeeper's Naturals is a natural medicine company. So our mission is to reinvent the medicine cabinet using cleaner ingredients, sustainable ingredients, things that truly work and not making any compromises when it comes to what you're putting in your body. If you look at the medicine cabinet today we have, you know, two very different ends of the spectrum. We have like nasty cherry flavored cough syrup full of refined sugars and chemicals that are not actually healing but just mask the symptoms. And on the other side there's this wonderful world of not for wellness and there's a lot of great stuff there and there's also a lot of stuff that's heavily marketed and doesn't really get the job done.

And so we are really trying to marry the world of nature and science and reinvent the medicine cabinet. And one of the key features of our company is that we draw on a lot of different medicinal ingredients from the beehive going beyond honey and we also are dedicated to saving the bees and supporting sustainability. I love that. I was actually just having a look in my medicine cabinet in my bathroom and I was like, yeah, I don't have anything natural in here. It's like old stuff that you buy over the counter. And it's interesting when you look in your cabinet, when you know, I've been obviously reading about your brand and like all these amazing reviews and things that you've said about the products and I was like, wow, this is really weird. I don't have anything natural in there. That's and it's a weird thing because you have so many natural things in your fridge now, you have so many natural things in your skincare, but not yet in that category. Like for me personally, Yeah, no, it's a really interesting thing. I mean I have a lot of thoughts on this subject matter obviously, but the first thing is, you know, when you're sick your body is in a vulnerable state.

The last thing you want to do is be introducing chemicals, refined sugars, flavors, preservatives, food dyes. And so medicine was not really made to heal in a lot of cases that, you know, there's some wonderful advent of modern medicine of course, but in a lot of cases, the medicine that we buy at the drugstore, it's meant to kind of mask the symptoms and get us on through our day, but it doesn't, it's not really helping us in the way that it should. And then just kind of to your point about what's in your fridge or, you know, your makeup cabinet or something like that. We've seen this better for you mission permit. Like every sector, there's clean food, clean beauty, sustainable fashion. And the one area that's truly lagged is medicine. And I think it's because with medicine, you know, at least I'm like this with beauty products. I'm like, okay, sure I'll try it. I don't know if it's working, but like give me more, but with medicine it has to work. Like if you have a sore throat and you use the beekeeper's naturals properly spray and it does not help your sore throat. You're never using one of our products again and nor should you.

So you're held to a very different standard when it comes to medicine. And there is a lot of kind of upfront investing, we have to do on the efficacy side on the science side and that's all stuff we're committed to doing. But it means that before we bring a product to market, we're spending a hell of a lot of money compared to kind of our cosmetic or food counterparts. So that's why I think there hasn't been a lot of innovation in this area. And for me, this is like my obsession because of my own health issues. And so for me, there was like no other road I was going to go down, but certainly it's, it hasn't really kept pace with what the customer of today wants and deserves and demands for themselves. Yeah, totally. Absolutely. I'd love to go back into your past when your health issues were starting and you know, get to learn a little bit about your story before you had the lightbulb moment to start this business and what the problems were that you were facing and how that led into starting the business. Yeah. So, oh my gosh, I had all kinds of health issues growing up.

So I had chronic tonsillitis. I don't have you ever had tonsillitis? I haven't have you had strep throat, anything like that? Okay, well I'm very happy to hear that. But for any listeners tonsillitis, strep throat, these sort of things are quite common and they're very painful. And typically when you have something like tonsillitis or strep throat, you take a course of antibiotics and you'll recover in like a week or so and if you have a chronic condition you get your tonsils out. So that would have been the normal path for me. But I have an autoimmune condition where I cannot take antibiotics so I cannot take antibiotics at all. And what that meant was that when I got ta colitis or strep throat or anything viral, there was nothing I could really do. Like, my body wouldn't recover quickly. I had a really weak immune system and so I would be sick for, I don't know, three weeks at a time. So think about this started when I was like a little kid. So my whole experience growing up was you know, missing huge amounts of school and sitting on the sidelines and and being sick and in like pretty severe opinion with no medicine that could help me.

And when it came to taking my tonsils out because of my allergies to antibiotics, it wasn't you know the safest path to go down. So I have my counsels, I still have them today. Um But I was I grew up constantly ill and because of my allergy is a lot of one antibiotics are just not in the conversation for me, but a lot of what sold at the drugstore I would actually have an adverse reaction to. So everything from like the neo citrine and night well and you know these traditional things that we take, they would make me sicker. And so, you know, I grew up seeing like every specialist flying around the country, like just trying to solve my problems. I saw every doctor every natural path, every like constantly just searching. And then from a pretty early age we figured out that, you know, not much was happening and we had spent a lot of money in time um that we couldn't really keep up with trying to solve these problems. And so I started really exploring the world of natural wellness and I was really excited and I did a ton of research.

I'm a person who has to do a ton of research based on where my health was at, my health has changed a lot now we'll get to that. But anyways, I I started doing a lot of research on the world of natural wellness and I was really excited. There was all of these cool natural plant based alternatives that promised these unbelievable results. And there wasn't necessarily the most science that I was finding, that there was a ton of anecdotal evidence and a lot of these things have been used for years and years. And so I got a job, started saving up money and you know, these wellness alternatives tend to be quite expensive. So I started buying these things and using them and I very quickly became very disillusioned with the world of natural wellness because I would end up spending time researching and buying these fancy celebrity endorsed fuji products and they would, you know, in many cases do nothing and sometimes I would have a negative reaction. And so it was just really frustrated. I was like where do I fit in the system?

And it's, you know, a lot of people struggle with this, you know, I had a chronic tonsillitis, it certainly wasn't debilitating and it wasn't life threatening, you know, I'm very fortunate for that, but it certainly altered my life. It caused a lot of stress pain missing out. It was it really affected my well being. Uh there's you know, huge population that struggles with auto immune and these things are just you know, not as accessible to this community. Um Anyways, so that was my experience and that continued up until college, I was constantly searching for the latest and greatest only to be disappointed and I kept, you know, when I could seeing different doctors getting different opinions and everyone was kind of like, you're out a lot kid and um in college I dismissed or abroad, I went to europe, I was studying in Sweden and I was traveling around and um I busted my butt waitressing to get out there, it was like my first big trip, so excited and when I went to I was doing like two weeks in Italy to meet up with another friend and when I got to Italy pretty soon after that I got really severe tonsillitis to the point where I was having a very hard time breathing, my tonsils were so swollen, it was hard to get Aaron and I was going to have to come home and I was like oh my gosh, I'm not missing out again, like I worked so hard to get out here and every time I get this opportunity in life it gets shut down because I'm sick and I'm so tired of that and so I was like I'm just going to figure this out, like there has to be a solution and I went to a pharmacy in Florence, it was, it wasn't like a natural fancy store, it was traditional pharmacy.

I just looked up online where I could really talk to a pharmacist and I went and spoke to the pharmacist, I rattled off my list of allergies, my symptoms, all the things and she was just like, oh, you need proper Alice. And I was like, okay, what's that? And she's like, you know, properties from the bees. And I was like, okay, so hunting it and she's like, no, no, no, not honey, totally different. It's probably less. So I had never heard of this stuff before, like many of us, I thought that the only thing that did was make honey um guilty. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I completely thought that and I thought it was like, okay, this must be like a language barrier, I don't know, but she's adamant that I try this. She feels really confident. She was like Really relaxed given all of my symptoms and like the state I was in and I was visibly sick, I was like, okay, I'm just gonna try this. And I was also 21 and so I was like yeah, although I'll try it. And so I bought this problems from her and I started using it following her instructions and then about five days I made a full recovery and that had never happened to me before.

I had tried 20, like years. 20 years, like game changer. Yeah I'm not exactly 20 years because I started getting sick around like nine years old. Ish I think. Um anyways but long long time of searching and for the first time I had this experience of recovery and I didn't know that that was possible for me and I started doing a ton of research on proper listen the more medicinal compounds that come from the beehive and I learned that proper this is certainly not new. We've been the first recorded human use states back to 300 B. C. And you know proper less has been written up for having um some incredibly beneficial properties. Its antiviral it's anti fungal to antimicrobial anti inflammatory. It's full of antioxidants. So these are all things that are amazing for combating germs and reducing inflammation and swelling Which is what you need when you're sick. It's really interesting actually in the 17th Century Acropolis was listed in the London Pharmacare PD as an official drug.

So a lot of people talk properly. This is like the O. G. Antibiotic like it's really what people were using long before we turn to you know a lot of this sort of Medicines we use today. So it's really interesting. We have this really long standing healing history if you look at properties as a compound there's over 300 beneficial compounds inside prop elicit has a really wonderful effect on the body and it's wonderful for auto immune and sensitive people generally because it's really sensitive on your system and it's something that your body can really kind of integrate. So I had found my problems right here, so I had found my thing, I was feeling better and as I was traveling around europe I started to notice things like proper Alice, royal jelly, bee pollen were more common place. I remember finding brain supplements in France made with royal jelly, and I saw these like anti aging compounds as well that had a royal jelly. And then when I was in France and then in Copenhagen I bought this like energy supplement that had bee pollen.

So I started finding these bee products everywhere and it's not like they're so widely accessible, but I was looking for them and I just started noticing that there was a greater awareness, so I started incorporating them into my routine and I felt a huge difference. Uh you know, I was somebody who was getting sick monthly and I really wasn't getting sick and when I did have something coming on I was able to kind of stop it before it got bad. So my health radically changed during that semester abroad and I certainly wasn't thinking about starting a company, I was just like oh my God, I found my thing, I love the products, they worked for my body, this is great. Um so I finished up my time abroad, came back home to finish up college in Canada where I'm from and exams rolled around and I had one too many all nighters cramming and I got sick and I wasn't so worried this time because you know I was like I just need properly is being sick is no longer a monthly affair. So I thought I just needed to get my hands on some problems. And I went to like every health food store and there was shelves and shelves of organic honey and manuka honey, but nobody really knew what I was talking about when I asked for a bra polis like people I thought I was insane asking for this.

I finally found some proper lists at this farmer's market in british Columbia And it was $40 for like the tiniest tincture and it was organic and artisanal and all the things and I went back and used it and I had a really severe allergic reaction. And so I was like what the hell? How is this happening? I just came off you know seven months in europe where I used Acropolis literally daily, why why is this happening? And at that time I was a ta for my chemistry class. And so I actually ran a toxicity panel on the product I purchased and I found out that there was pesticide exposure. And so that led me down a different path where I was like it's organic, how is their pesticides in this? Like isn't that the whole point of organic and what I learned was with the products and you know, I'm sure there's a lot of inefficiencies in the organic world, but specifically with the products, organic is not a great benchmark because the bees fly, you can't put a leash on them. So just because their hive fits on organic land, if the neighbors are doing something dirty, which they, you know, pesticides are widely used in many cases they are, the bees will get exposure.

Oh gosh, I know it's brutal. So for somebody who's auto immune and really sensitive to pesticides organic, it doesn't paint the full picture. And even if you're not, if you're paying the extra money for something organic, like it should be pesticide free, you're trying to get your body, you know, cleaning away from these toxic ingredients. But anyways that experience, it was illuminating and it made me realize, you know, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. So I know the bee products work. I'm not allergic to bee products. All of a sudden I am still allergic to pesticides. So I need to start beekeeping and run quality control. It was like how the hell do I do that? So I literally went on google, it was started reading blogs about beginner beekeeping. Um Youtube videos. I literally bought the book keeping for dummies. I actually met the guy who wrote it a few years ago and I was like I like almost started crying, it was really embarrassing. It was just, it was extra, it was not, it was not well um but anyways, I love that like your fan girl moment is the guy so funny and he's like not used to being approached by that, so he was like, are you having a panic attack?

Not only you're just really cool. Um it was really embarrassing. Anyway, I'm gonna make sure with him and I'm like standing so awkwardly and so stressed out photo actually didn't even post it, like I look in soon um even though he's so freaking cool and it made a big difference to my life clearly. So anyways, I started learning all about beekeeping and then I was like, okay, where do I get, how do I do this? I'm a broke college student. And so I googled beekeeping meetups and I, I found on the local, my local chapter for the beekeeping association and if anyone's interested, most parts of the world have a local chapter for a beekeeping association that meets monthly. Even right now, most places are doing it virtually. So I started attending these meetings and I was not, you know, the typical, I was not a member of like the typical demographic that attends these meetings and I ended up meeting this guy named john, he is a third generation beekeeper who moved to Canada from Romania, he's a retired biochemist and he basically moved to Canada to like live in the woods and keep these and being broke loose and lo and behold this annoying cheerleader shows up, just like begging him to teacher about bees.

And so basically I convinced him to let me be his apprentice. I started working for him for free. He was in the middle of victoria bc in the forest. So like as pesticide free as you can get in the middle of the forest on an island in Canada. Um I went to college in victoria british Columbia, so I was fortunate to go to college in that beautiful place. Um but anyways, I started working with him, um I started as his apprentice and it was just this incredible learning experience because I'm learning from somebody who's generationally been exposed to bees and then also has a science background. And then at the same time I was taking science courses, um I was still a teenager mike m class. So I would go to the hives and work with the bees and create all these products and learn about them and then bring them back to the lab where I kind of had a free run and you know, perfect my extraction type and I didn't know it at the time, but looking back, I was creating this product line and just perfecting it for myself and, you know, it was, it was actually a really beautiful, accidental way to start a company because I think a lot of time, I mean when people start companies, they're thinking about the longer term, they're thinking about profitability and how you scale this and inevitably you cut some people not, you don't necessarily have to, I really believe you don't have to do this, but we've all seen a lot of people cut corners on the pursuit of profit.

And so I never thought I could start a company. Um I was just making what works for me and doing it as best I could. And so I have these this beautiful experience where I was just able to really learn about something and really perfect something and become an expert in something with no pressure and that's what happened. I completely fell in love with the B is I I'm obsessed with like playing mad scientist and creating products and I really changed my health and at the start, you know, I I never thought it could be a company. I never thought I studied sciences, I never took a business course in my life. I never thought I could start a company. Um but I started sharing these products with my roommates and next thing, you know, people on campus for facebook messaging me, they're like these products where can I buy some from you? And I was like, okay, I don't even know it towards you. But what was happening there was I realized that these one these products work for a meaningful population beyond myself and two, there's a real appetite for something natural that's effective in the medicine space and there's clearly a lack of options even if you're not auto immune, even if you don't have these allergies, there's an understanding that when you're sick you want to put something clean in your body but you also need something that works and is going to address the symptoms and you want something that also helps you recover more quickly.

So I was you know, hitting all of these things and sorry, this is a long story, I love a long story, please continue. Ok, good. So I was making these products and I was just madly in love with what I was doing. I completely fell in love with the bees. I started I've always been pretty interested in environmental affairs and just like a nature lover and I started to really learn about the importance of pollinators and how these really sustain life on this planet and how intricate these creatures are and how it's a meteorological society. Like there was all of these things about bees that were just like oh this is the coolest. So I felt completely in love with these. I was already in love with building products and I like solving problems and so I had this dream of starting a bi product company but I was graduating with negative funds and starting a big product company when I went to basically any adults was like that sounds really weird, you should probably just get a job and I imagine people are also like it's a bit hippy dippy, like oh you know what do you mean?

Yeah, totally. Oh yes, people thought I was like a crazy hippie and so I went in the complete opposite direction of a hippie, I had a job, I was very fortunate to have a job offer out of school at a hedge fund and the specific job that I was offered was to be focused on pharmaceutical research. So I was doing pharmaceutical research for these hedge fund people to then place monetary bets on. So it was great, it was research, which is my thing, it was science driven, but it was also like a hedge fund which was a little fancy and gave me uh some good income out of school. And so I joined this hedge fund, I was there for about 10 months and then 10 months into that I got recruited by Goldman Sachs, which is a big investment bank to join their team and I became a trader at Goldman Sachs and I was there for just over two years, it was a wonderful learning experience, it was the most I've ever could hate a job and I've had some pretty like intense jobs through high school and college and like Goldman was rough.

Um but it was rough because it was sort of line with my values and what I care about and what I want, it was, you know in many ways a really wonderful experience and I feel very lucky to have worked there, but basically I've never cared about finance and there I am at you know a very large finance from working crazy hours with a huge amount of responsibility, doing something that is really meaningless and inauthentic to me, I you know, stuck out like a short time, I didn't really connect with my coworkers and I felt incredibly isolated and again the hours were quite intense, I mean I work longer hours now, but I work on something that I love and I'm passionate about when you're working wild hours at a place where you don't feel like you're really being treated kindly and you're working on something that you don't care for, It's tough, it's really tough and you also you don't see that like the outcome, you don't see the goal that you're trying to reach because you just in the process, what am I doing this for?

So that my parents can tell their friends that I have a good job and an independent or like I can have a slightly bigger shoebox of an apartment in new york. I don't know, I was playing a lot of all nighters, I started to I'm an anxious person by nature and started to really struggle with anxiety as having panic attacks. Remember I went to the doctor at Goldman and I was like I think I'm having a heart attack, like just a panic attack. So I started having pretty bad panic attacks pretty severe and I got to a point where I was just like, fuck, I'm really unhappy, really, really unhappy and I know I have a good income and I'm on a good trajectory, but I don't think I can do this. And so I sat down and I made a spreadsheet about happiness because that's what I was good at that time spreadsheets and I was trying to identify the points in time where I felt the happiest and the things that I kept coming back to, we're working with the bees, which is a little hard to do and you're splitting time between new york and Toronto during that time.

Um and building products also a little bit hard to do, but I was like, I can kind of do this, it can be my hobby. And so I started sourcing products, I would just buy products from my mentor out in british Columbia, he would just send me bulk Robbie products. I actually have some raw problems, I can show you in a second please, on the other side of my counter, Maybe I'll grab it right now. Yeah, grab it please. Okay, so a lot of this is just like a good visual because people think Acropolis is honey and it's a totally different thing, but I started ordering raw product, this is raw Acropolis, so john was just like send me raw product and I bought all this lab equipment and I turned my like teeny tiny studio apartment apartment in new york into like a lot like my friends would come over and they would be like Carly, what's happened like this is like Breaking Bad, do you need help or something? And I was always like trying to make sure that we don't go back to my place.

So weird. Um but I started making, so I started you know, ordering raw product from my mentor and making it into accessible viable products and I would go on weekends and sell them at farmers markets and pop up shops and it was like my secret moonlight after work job secret side hustle. Yeah, it really was, I was always so paranoid that if I was like at a farmer's market that someone I worked with would show up or like their way for something. It was always like on edge of it. But it was, it was where I started to drag sunny so you honestly, but I started to really drive a lot of joy from being able to share these products I was making and the interactions I was having with customers and it was again a beautiful experience because I didn't think that I could start a company. I really thought this was going to be like I have my job that I hate and then on weekends I got to like do this as a fun hobby and I was thinking like you know, my mom loves to bake and my mom's a teacher baking is not her job, but she bakes a lot and I was like, okay, why can't my hobby be making the products into medicine, selling the farmer's markets rolls off the tongue.

Um and so that's how I was thinking about it. And then what happened was people started, I started to just build up this customer base, People started to, I made an email as people started to follow me around different farmers markets and they would share these incredible stories, incredible healing stories of their own, some of them similar to mine, some of them very different. Um you know, I remember one gentleman shared a really impactful story about his experience with Lyme disease and how populace somehow helped to really stabilize his immune system and you know, he was very passionate about it. And then I had this other customer, she had a six year old with all kinds of autoimmune and he had, he would get canker sores in his throat and he was very, very painful for him and she would like email me and send me videos of him, like spraying it and like in the morning before school opening his mouth to spray it and the canker sores went away. And so oh my God, we're sharing all kinds of healing stories with me and I was like, well it makes sense as a substance because it's anti inflammatory.

So any inflammatory condition, like a canker sore, it's going to have a soothing effect and its antiviral. So germs bacteria, any certifiable properties will be supportive. It's immune support. Like that's what proper this is. It's an immune supporter and the high that actually functions as the immune system for the entire Hive. So it makes a lot of sense that if there's anything immune related populace will be supportive anyway, so people started sharing these stories and then you know, people started asking me to send product to like their sister in law in Chicago and all over and next thing you knew I was spending my entire salary like shipping to different places and all of this. And it got to a point where I was like, I think that I have a real customer base, People like this, I know the science is there and this is what I want to do and if it's this needs to exist in the world, it helps people and if it's not me, someone else is going to do it and I think it should be me. So I left goldman end of 2016, everyone thought I was having a full blown mental breakdown, like literally everyone in my life was like very concerned about me, everyone was like this is not what you should do, what are you doing?

Oh yeah, and like not only that people were like aggressively concerned, like people would be like, this is the worst decision of your life, you have this incredible job, people would kill to work at this firm, you're going to end up living in your parents, My one of my bosses at home, and actually he told me that he did this, like I remember when I told him he brought me into a boardroom and he started, he has no idea what are emergent structure looks like or how my company has evolved, but he starts putting like arbitrary numbers of like, here's where you'll end up with your little big product company and here's where you would end up if you made partner at Goldman Sachs, and like it basically showed a very bad situation on one end and a fantastic one on the other, and that was like upset. I remember like, kind of trying not to cry in that moment, but also being like, yeah, I'm gonna fucking do this. Yeah, you're like, if anything really gives me the fuel and like further conviction that I'm going to prove you wrong. Yeah, so anyways I, I people thought I was like having a full mental breakdown and I really wanted to get away from all of that, and I had this dream of like going back to europe and putting my head down in a cafe and just like writing my business plan and I didn't know how to write a business plan by the way, I googled how to write a business plan like for everyone listening, I didn't know I knew a lot about finance, which was not at all useful in the first few years of business and now is like a little bit useful because I can have good conversations with our CFO, but like I would not say that was a huge leg up.

Um I knew nothing about business and how to start a business. I knew a hell of a lot about the products and the science behind them and I, you know, my biggest asset I think was like I knew a lot about how to research effectively, I knew what constitutes good science kind of trials to look at what's kind of science has been manipulated for a certain result versus what to understand, but on the business side I had no idea and you don't need to have an idea, you just need to be aggressive in your pursuit of information and understanding. Um so anyways, I had this dream of like going to europe and where no one knows me and just writing my business plan and setting it up and then coming back and really starting the company in America where there's you know, a lot of interest in health and wellness and a big market and I couldn't afford to go to europe, so I put all of my savings into the company and had just enough to survive for that year on a very budgeted lifestyle.

So anyways I couldn't afford to go to europe but I could afford to go to South East Asia because I had enough for a flight. And then the cost of living there was actually significantly better than you know my rent in new york which I couldn't afford of course moved out of my apartment in new york, I went to Southeast Asia, I spent three months there, this is This is I think end of 2016, start of 2017, I spent three months there just literally by myself because really everyone in my life thought I was insane and I like kind of broke down everything like I exited my good on paper relationship with a lovely person that just you know it wasn't my person and I accident this great on paper job and um in pursuit of this concept that makes no sense to anyone. So anyways I I googled how to write a business plan, I started writing one out, I started to understand how fundraising would look and put together kind of action plan for that and I came back to the U.

S. Start of 2017 had completely run out of money at that point. I was living on my best friend Adams couch and I stayed there for over six months so God bless at him, shout out to Adam deserves a mention, I mentioned him on everything I ever do pretty much, he's my best best friend, he's like my brother. But anyways I I had fully run out of money at that point but I had done a lot of research on fundraising and just reading the same way I learned about bees, reading these like for dummies books and listening to podcasts and under just learning what venture capital was, that's a word I didn't know. Even working in finance, I wasn't really aware of that that space is quite different in public markets. And I started to put together a small seed round and I basically dialed up all the rich people. I know a lot of them were people I met in the finance world who I worked for and I was like here's my idea would you be interested in investing?

And pretty consistently they're like I don't understand your idea at all but I know that you're a workaholic, I've I've seen the way you know your work ethic is and I trust like you'll figure it out like you're not gonna you'll you'll find something so I was able to put together a small seed round. Not a huge amount but just enough. And I went to my other best friend Daniel Miller who's now our R. C. 00. he was a corporate lawyer at the time and I was like how do I set up a company? I don't know how to do any of this. And so he started helping me out and then something that was really important to me early on was so this is just an interesting thing in the U. S. There's the F. D. A. And then when it comes to natural it's the Wild West there's no regulatory structure policing it. Um There's a little bit more structure in europe and in Canada where I'm from there is a body health Canada they do regulate natural products. And what you can do is apply to get an NPM number which is a natural product number.

So we have N. P. N. Numbers on all of our products and basically what they do is we've what it means that we've legally validated the health claims we make. So sometimes you see products in the U. S. That are like here's everything and we'll make you glow and there's no scientific or legal validation. So for us when we say throat spray, when we say on our Felix or brain shots when we say cognitive memory say those words, we've legally validated those health claims and a lot of people don't know about this. I knew about this because I had to with all of my health issues. I I was I had to look out for you know things with NPM because I wasn't able to take things that don't because I didn't know what I would get and so I went to Daniel and I was like okay you've helped me set up the company, you're amazing. Do you know anything about how to get NPS? And he's like I'm an M. And a lawyer. No. And then I was like you're the smartest person I know so like I feel like you can figure it out like if I can figure this other stuff out like you can figure this out. So we started the process together of trying to get NP Ns and Daniel this whole time was just like helping out a friend And I think he kind of felt that for me and he was also working crazy hours at a law firm and he would get sick all the time and go to the local drugstore and just spend like $50 on cough syrup and stuff to mask the symptoms only to get sick again.

And he thought I was like a crazy hippie chick just doing something weird but you know helping out a friend. And so as we're going through this process where he's having to legally validate the science of these products to the Canadian government. He's like uh Carly, this stuff like this is real, this works. And I was like yeah that's what I'm doing. And then he had one night where he had a really bad sore throat and he used the populace and it literally like he was buying the next morning and he came back to me and he's like I want to get involved, you need a business partner. It was like I don't need a business partner and we're a sustainably driven company. So I don't care about your J. D. M. B. A. You don't have been keeping experience. So I love you and you're the best friend ever. But like this seems like a poor fit if you you know you can't bring that perspective into this because it is really important to me and you know now we have amazing conversations with all our team members that people need to really understand the intricacies of the bees and the impact we have environmentally.

Um So anyways I turned him away, he went out and did a master's apprenticeship and beekeeping and came back to me several months later certified beekeeper. And I was like okay overachiever urine. That is awesome. Oh my God he's the best um and Daniel. So he left the world of corporate law january 2018 and he's now full time our ceo and it's awesome. I'm very lucky to get to run my company with my best friend. Sure and that kind of brings us today. So now we have quite a few products were all about reinventing the medicine cabinet. I have the most amazing team were sold nationally were sold at all whole foods locations across the U. S. And Canada and where are populous phrase consistently in the top five of top selling immune products on amazon and we have yeah it's great we have a growing team holy moly that is just the coolest story and like I feel like I had to do the least amount of work I've ever had to do.

You just like breeze through the story without me having to ask you any questions which I am, I'm just so grateful that I got to sit here and listen to that amazing story wow. Um, I'm wondering when you look back at your like marketing over the last two years, say since Daniel joined, what do you think has been the reason for the success and you know, crazy customer growth and um customer acquisition. Yeah. So I think for one we're obsessive about products are products work at the end of the day and we will not bring something to market that doesn't, not only work that is accessible to the most sensitive systems. I'm a great guinea pig for all of our products, I won't bring something to market that I don't use. So we're really obsessive about product quality and efficacy and I think that's, you know, you can only get so far with a company built on promises really important to be obsessed with your product and be obsessed with the landscape and understanding your customer base and what they need and solving problems for them. So that's number one, If our products didn't work, we would not have grown like this and then on the marketing front it's really challenging because we have such a nuanced product line.

We're dealing with ingredients that the average person hasn't heard of. There's generally a lack of trust in the wellness space and specifically when it comes to medicine, when people are sick, they just want to get fucking better. Like the last thing they want to do is try something that like maybe you will work. So it's really important that we again, make products that truly work, but also have strategic, decisive messaging that people understand trying to kind of bring this down to, you know, everyone's level because the average person again doesn't know what proper this is. So how can we, how can we make this just understandable and a quick snap second. And so really speaking and we we've figured that out through a lot of customer testing a lot of trial and error. We've done like the long winded campaigns where I try and teach every single person about every single bi product and people tend to get forward and check out. We've done the thing where we speak to the specific symptom and ultimately what I've learned is that you need to speak, you need to meet your customer where they are.

So speaking to their needs. You know, I have. I so, I mean, as you can probably tell by this podcast, I tend to like go down a rabbit hole verbally and when I'm researching and what I'm doing anything. And so I I want to like share all the amazing products and people times joked that I'm like the Windex Dad from big Fat Greek wedding. So I'm like progress on everything. Um, but really, and even if something is the best miracle product ever and it is a cure all, it's really important to be specific and meet your customer where they are and speak to the problem that they are going through. So you know what I, when I talk to other entrepreneurs, I really emphasize, especially with, I mean with anything, I really emphasize the importance of getting to know who your customer is, where they live, how old they are, what other things do they consume? What are they dealing with? Like what is the problem that is still plaguing them? I think it's wonderful when you are your customer. I think that's a really wonderful thing and you know, it's not always the case and I think companies can evolve in a beautiful way without that because we're all, you know, capable of empathy and understanding.

But it really, you know, if you're not your customer get to know your customers spend time with them. I it was unintentional, but the work that I did in the early days at farmers markets, standing at a booth all weekend every weekend and just talking to people who are using my product, coming back the next weekend saying like I like this, but not this so much and I would say why. Um and I really got to know that and you know, you don't have to do that, you can replicate that with customer surveying when you put out a product, get a good focus group going and survey them digitally and get to know what they like and what they don't like and be ready to move because you know, also don't, don't fall too in love with like your master formula because it's not just about you, it's about meeting your customer where they are. So, you know, be open, be open minded, be flexible and continue growing alongside your customer base. Absolutely. I think that's such an important one that sometimes, even though it's the most obvious thing, sometimes people can actually forget that. And of course, and as you're seeing with your brand, Word of mouth is so important and it has to be inherently built into what you do, so that, you know, one person tells five of their other people and you don't have to pay to acquire those customers at all.

Yeah, and I mean that's kind of what social media is. That's what influencers are, people who, you know, have amassed a following and their word of mouth carries. And so, you know, you also need to be really fear on your messaging. This is something that I've messed up with all of, you know, sharing too many products are too many benefits, like you need to really make it digestible for people and allow them to have their own experience and then trust that if it works for them and you can trust that when you've worked your ass off making a great product that it will carry. Um but we live in a world where information is easily disseminated. So that's a wonderful blessing for an entrepreneur. Absolutely. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to launch their own business? Okay, so for me, my biggest challenge was and continues to be myself. I have, you know, I really have to rub up against the narratives that I carry and challenge them and question them and you know, I see this with all genders of young entrepreneurs that I speak to, but for whatever reason, maybe it's just my network, but I've seen it a little bit more with women where we we need something to be perfect before we bring it to market or you know, we need to go to our NBA before we do this or we need some sort of like external validation before we make these moves because we're not, you know, we're not so sure of ourselves or we just don't know how and that's all bullshit.

Like nobody knows how I still, I have, you know, a pretty big team and like, I still don't know how and I tell them that all the time and the only thing that I know how to do and the only thing that kind of matters is an entrepreneur is resilience and being able to figure out the things you don't know how, because especially as a ceo your job changes at least every six months with every phase the company takes on your whole job changes. And so the only thing that you consistently need to do is be good at being bad at something and dedicated to that thing until you get better at it. So my advice is all of these kind of limiting beliefs start to question them, start to just just look at like what's the opposite of that? What if that's not true? Just start asking yourself, make a habit of it. This is what I had to do. I had to make a habit when I had these really limiting beliefs of saying, okay, what if the opposite happens, what if that's actually not true at all? What would that look like? And I journal about it and I have a major journaling practice and that's really important for me because I am full of self doubt that I have to fight against constantly and so yeah, for for female entrepreneurs, I would say, and I hope that this actually doesn't resonate with a lot of people because I hope that people are not riddled with self doubt and are full of confidence, but what kind of barriers are you placing on yourself and what sort of external benchmarks are you telling yourself that you need to achieve prior to starting?

When the truth is you have this idea? If you care about this and are passionate about it, then there's no one better to do it than you. And what if you just did it and then figured it out as you went, like all of the other great entrepreneurs do totally. That's so strange that you say that you just sparked something that I remembered from a few years ago, I had been doing like a self development course and one of the exercises that they gave us at the time was um just when you automatically go to say yes or no to something, just automatically be like, what if what if I said yes or what if I said no and just no matter what it was, if it's like, oh, you get invited to a wedding and you automatically say yes, but then what does it look like if you say no and prioritize yourself instead in that moment to not travel overseas to do something or you know, whatever it is and those little, you know, self kind of exercises that you can do to question things that are happening. Like in your mind, it's just so critical and I'm so glad you just reminded me of that I'm gonna start, I'm gonna start doing that too. I think a lot of people do suffer with the with the inner critic.

Um certainly myself included, so that's really cool, thanks for sharing. Um okay, I'm conscious of time but we have the six quick questions part of the episode. Are you still good for another five or six minutes? Yes. Yeah. Perfect. Okay. Question number one is, what's your why my white when I started it was my customer base now it's my customer base in my team. Amazing question number two is what do you think has been the number one marketing moment that's made your business pop. I don't, I wish that I could point to one silver bullet. We've had a ton of celebrity endorsement but I don't think it was one thing. I think it was slowly us grinding away creating our instagram following and interacting with our customers and we like our customer love team which is our customer service team. We're very dedicated. We're always talking about surprise and delight. So we've created a lot of micro moments like focusing on connection. Sorry I know these are quick ones. I want to be a bit longer if you've got time. I'd love to hear what you mean. Like what's an example of those micro moments?

So we always as a company are talking about surprise and delight, how can we surprise and delight customers? How can we connect with them were fully, how can we do a better job of understanding what they need from us, not just on a product level but in their interactions or as a platform. So we spend a lot of time surveying directly, interacting with them over instagram and email and then, you know, trying to reward people who support us by just like sending them, you know, an extra thing with their orders sometimes or little things like that. And it's really interesting because we've had, we're very fortunate, we've had, you know, the Kardashian's endorse us publicly. Um and that was amazing. Yeah, we've had a lot of like, really amazing things, but I think sometimes people are entrepreneurs say, and these things are amazing. We're very lucky, but it's not like a celebrity endorses you and then you're a success. At least my experience has not been like the company radically changed overnight. It's, you know, a lot of different people speaking about their experience with the products and so again, just focusing on building connection and you also build connection by solving people's problems.

So it comes back to focusing on product that works, but really just focusing on, especially in today's isolated world. And I was saying we were isolated before Covid and lockdown because everything is digital but creating opportunity to really hear what people are struggling with and again, meet them there and speak to that directly and create a safe space for it. So sometimes it's like a physical surprise and delight extra like, like a sticker pack with our products. Sometimes it's just an email, thinking, dedicated customers. Sometimes it's a post about mental health where we really encourage conversation. Sometimes it's conversations like these that we share with our customer base where they can really get to know, you know, different pieces of us. But it's creating a lot of micro moments in different areas from an email campaign to an instagram post too. You name it where you can connect. Yeah, I really love that Question. Number three is where do you hang out to get smarter and that's around things that you're listening to podcasts, books that you're reading places on the Internet in these times.

I'm a big podcaster. Let me just actually tell you the name of this new one that I'm obsessed with. I just got really into it. His name is josh wine students called the portal, the portal. Yeah, I'm sorry with eric Weinstein. So really love that. I really love the podcast is actually I think they're based in London. It's called Not Overthinking, Okay. Oh my God, I'm obsessed with it. I'm obsessed with it. These two brothers and it's like, I like the name too because it's not over thinking but also not overthinking. So anyways, I think it's very pretty, but specifically for business uh E. T. L. Entrepreneurial thought leaders that's uh podcast that's out through stanford. That is like my number one wreck for entrepreneurs when I started my company, oh my gosh, I went back and like at the beginning listen to every episode and you know, there's a lot of like interesting business podcast where you get to know people, but I found there were so many applicable takeaways from that podcast, so that's one that I love and then I really like invest like the best.

Again, he interviews some really great people and I find that there's kind of tangible takeaways, so those are some of my faves, and then right now I'm rereading Ray Dalio's book, which is a really good one, It's just thinking about like corporate structure, but I read a lot of just kind of like, I think I read like a list I found on google of business books when I started and I think it is really important to continue thinking about these things. And then the other thing that I that I'm really lucky to learn from is I have a lot of entrepreneur friends and I spend a lot of time trading stories with them, learning about what's working for them, sharing what's working for us. Um I have a really incredible network of female entrepreneurs, I think it's really important to build that network for whatever reason. Well, there's not a lot of female entrepreneurs, we need to see more, but creating that supportive structure and sharing what's working for you and building real connections there is so important, I cannot tell you how many times my brilliant girlfriends who run brilliant companies have given me advice that's fundamentally shifted my path.

So trying to find people who care about the things you care about and can provide different perspective is really important. Yeah, I totally agree. Um that's totally how female startup club came about because I was asking girlfriends in my network how to grow my e commerce business at the time and yeah, we do in a funny way, but I totally agreed. So important to have those connections question number four and this is what I'm super excited to hear your answer to is how do you win the day and that's around your AM and PM rituals that keep you feeling happy and successful but motivated and productive. Mm So pretty much every day I will. First of all I have to like fight to not check my email in the morning or slack. So that's like a constant struggle for me like this morning I did a really shit job of it. I was like, I'm gonna get up and go journal and then right away I'm like on slot and then I'm on slack for an hour in my bed, which is insane. Anyways don't do that. I slip in and out of doing that. Yeah, it's tough. But I try really hard to just have a practice that kind of centers me before I start my day and you know, it doesn't have to be a lot of time.

I certainly don't spend a lot of time doing it. But I do a few things, one I do kind of a gratitude list. So I just write down three things I'm grateful for. And then have you heard of the Hoffman process? No, it's a little bit okay, so I want to do, I went to this place called Hoffman and it's basically like a week long sort of retreat, but it's not like massages and yoga, it's like basically therapy. Uh it's wonderful. It's unbelievable. And it's all about, it's all about looking at your patterns that don't serve you. The patterns we take on early in our life that, you know, they're not necessarily who we are. There just patterns, there are things that we engage in that are either limiting or self sabotaging or we just want to get rid of. And it's it's like this deep exploration of that. So I love that. And I think they have actually an instagram page where they do these like guided meditations, they do something called a quad check, where you just check in with different parts of yourself. Um but I use their apps I like to write and every morning it's like little journal prompts.

And so it's the, I think it's just called the Hoffman process app, It's not like the cleanest up, I don't think they've updated in a while, but they have the option to do the quad check and it's where you check in with different parts of yourself. So it's like my emotional self feels and then what is my emotional self need today? My intellectual self feels, what is my intellectual self need today? My body feels what my body needs today. And it's just a really great way before you get sort of swept away with the entire day to check in with what's your emotional state, what are you worried about and how can you support yourself? So like for me very frequently my intellectual state feels anxious and then, you know, the second problem, which is like, what do I need today is like, Okay, I'm feeling anxious as fuck. I probably need to like meditate for 10 minutes at some point today and just be kind to myself because like there's no way I'm going to get everything done and I find that starting your day with those little check ins is really important. Yeah, I love that end of day. I've been trying recently, it's tough because I live on the east coast, I have West coast team members, so I tend to work like east coast and west coast hours sometimes.

And so what I'm trying to do and thank God for my assistant because she's actually the one who is trying to do this and like enforcing it with me um, is trying to have just like an hour at the end of the day where I just stop and I just like don't look at anything, nothing important is happening. Everyone on the team knows like Carly is not going to look until tomorrow morning in most cases, even though I cheat a lot. Um and then I try to just read a book or do something that's kind of indulgent. So sometimes that's like order a pizza and watch like Emily in paris, oh my God, Emily in paris. I know, I know it's like the guilty pleasure. Yeah, so good, so good. Or it's, you know, listening to bench about harry potter, which is my guilty pleasure lately or just like read a fantasy, but like I have so many business and personal development books I'm, I'm always reading and I just recently started reading Aragon, it's like this book about dragons and it's, I think the target demo is like teenage boys, but you know, but trying to do something that's indulgent for me, that's like just for me that's pure joy at the end of the day, I love that question.

Number five is, if you only had $1000 left in your business bank account, how would you spend it? Yes, I would be scary. Um I think I would $1000. I think I would probably Find an entrepreneur who has a really great idea and give it to them because there's not so much you can do with $1,000, but maybe it would be like a base for somebody to go on increasingly incredible. I love that. Haven't had that as an answer before. Love that. Very cool and last question question number six is how do you deal with failure and it can be around a personal experience or just your general mindset and approach to it, failure is so important, it comes back to that resilience and I fail at things all the time, like I'm more often than not, I feel a little things. Um and I now I'm, I'm teaching myself and constantly re teaching myself to see failure as an opportunity to build that resilience muscle. We really need to build our resilience muscle, like that is the most, I mean I'm sure you experience this, it's the most single most important thing you can do as an entrepreneur and I always come back to this quote, I I think it was, I don't know who said it, but it was like if you live so cautiously as to never fail at all, then you fail by default and I really believe that like failing means you're doing something and the most important thing is, you know, to be in action and be in pursuit of your mission and purpose.

Um and so failing is not necessarily a bad thing, it's just for an opportunity to strengthen and a redirection, yep, absolutely, totally. Uh I've loved this episode so much, thank you so much for taking the time and sharing all these amazing stories and learnings and lessons that you've had along the way, I really appreciate it, thank you, this is so much fun, hey, it's done here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D I. Y. Course, the ads. M. B A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe, rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network.

See you soon. Mm

Greatest Hits: From a secret side hustle to a certified B Corp buzzing business, with Beekeeper’s Naturals Founder Carly Stein
Greatest Hits: From a secret side hustle to a certified B Corp buzzing business, with Beekeeper’s Naturals Founder Carly Stein
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