In celebration of Earth Day 2020, here we shed light on a Canadian entrepreneur who is dedicating her life to supporting one of the most integral parts of Mother Nature’s ecosystem: the bees. Carly Stein walked away from a successful career in finance to become a full-time beekeeper and kickstart her own brand of immunity boosting products created from ‘the beehive and beyond’. Even during these unprecedented times, she continues with her mission to #SaveTheBees because global bee populations are still on the decline due to pesticides and climate change.
Keep reading to meet Carly Stein, the 29-year old founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals and find out how you can help save the bees every day.
Edit Seven: Tell us about your company, what do you do?
Carly Stein: At Beekeeper’s Naturals, we’re reinventing the medicine cabinet with clean remedies that actually work. Using science-backed natural ingredients from the beehive and beyond, we are committed to providing the cleanest, most powerful solutions to modern health issues—like brain fog, chronic stress, poor sleep, and scratchy throats. And unlike most OTC options, you’ll never find any refined sugars, dyes, or dirty chemicals inside our products.
We are also a brand on a mission. By working exclusively with sustainable small-scale apiaries, partnering with leading bee research institutions, and prioritizing pesticide-free hive health above all else, we work tirelessly to raise awareness and create a better environment for our world’s most important pollinators—the bees.
E7: How did you start your business? What inspired you to start?
CS: Growing up, I struggled with an autoimmune condition and recurring tonsillitis, but was unable to tolerate traditional antibiotics. On a semester abroad in Europe, my tonsillitis got particularly severe. I was desperate, so an Italian pharmacist gave me a weird bottle of this stuff called propolis. After barely a week of taking this propolis extract, my tonsils had returned to almost normal! For the first time in my life, something had finally worked for me!
When I returned home, I couldn’t find propolis anywhere. Instead of giving up, I began apprenticing with a local beekeeper to learn how to sustainably harvest propolis for myself. Using some basic chemistry knowledge, I formulated the first iteration of BKN’s flagship immune support product (Propolis Throat Spray) for my friends and family. Word traveled fast and pretty soon I could barely keep up with demand, but I didn’t really consider making a business out of it.
Instead, I graduated school and got a stable job on Wall Street, leaving my dreams behind. I quickly found myself working on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs. I was successful, but I was also deeply unhappy. So I sat down with myself and did some deep work. I knew I wanted my work to make a difference in the world and I knew I wanted to help people. On a gut instinct, I decided to launch this wild idea for making hive-powered clean remedies. People thought I was crazy (my friends legit held interventions), but I took a very big leap, invested all my savings in this idea, started hustling… and Beekeeper’s Naturals was born.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
CS: I get to work with amazingly talented people who inspire me to continue to level up. Together, we are building products that I know can help other people, and that’s such a gift. It brings me so much joy to help people feel their best, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to be on this journey with.
I’m excited about the challenge of reinventing the medicine cabinet and changing the face of medicine—kicking out the dirty chemicals and reintroducing the powerful ingredients that Mother Nature has provided. I love being able to do something that has such strong ties to nature and a positive impact on our planet.
E7: What makes your business special?
CS: We are a brand on a mission. We are working to challenge the status quo and redefine what people consider ‘medicine cabinet-worthy’.
What’s wrong with the medicine cabinet? For starters, many OTC remedies are filled with refined sugars, drugs, dyes, and dirty chemicals. On the other hand, natural remedies often are poorly formulated and don’t work that well. We don’t think that’s good enough. People deserve solutions that are clean, but also effective. They deserve a medicine cabinet they can trust.
Beekeeper’s Naturals lives at the intersection of science and nature. Our remedies are clean, but they also really work. Our products are free of dirty chemicals and are powered by sustainably-sourced natural ingredients—which we obsessively research and test with the scientific rigor of the pharmaceutical world.
We are also doing everything we can to raise awareness, support bee research, and help save the bees. We directly support bee research institutions and third-party pesticide test all of our products to ensure our hives and our remedies are free of harmful chemical residue.
E7: What makes your product special?
CS: Our products are powered by sustainably sourced ingredients from the beehive. And that’s more than honey. We use propolis, royal jelly, bee pollen, and raw honey as the base ingredients for our formulations for their powerful therapeutic benefits:
- Propolis is my immune support essential. It is packed with soothing antioxidants and is a powerful germ-fighter. The bees plaster it on all the hive walls to keep the hive healthy.
- Royal jelly nourishes brain and skin health and supports mental clarity. It is the primary food source of the queen bee.
- Bee pollen is nature’s multivitamin. It’s rich in clean protein, essential amino acids, energizing B vitamins, and minerals like calcium and magnesium. In fact, it contains more protein per gram than any animal source!
- Raw honey is a powerful nourisher and soother that promotes calmness and balance throughout the body.
I believe that you should be able to feel better without having to sacrifice your values, which is why we keep our products super clean and friendly to those with dietary sensitivities. Our products are also free of refined sugars, cheap fillers, dyes, pesticide residue, drugs, and other dirty chemicals. They’re paleo-friendly as well as gluten and soy free.
We also take sustainability to another level by practicing third party pesticide testing to ensure our bees are safe and happy and our remedies are truly clean and safe.
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from running your business?
CS: In the past, my biggest mistake has been not allowing myself to rely on those around me for support. Traditionally I’m the type of person where if something goes wrong, I want to be the one to solve it. I’m very type A in that way. But through a series of hard lessons, I’ve learned that the just-do-it-yourself tactic isn’t the most effective. In actuality, it’s a guaranteed way to get burnt out.
Delegating was a skill that took me a long time to get comfortable with, but I’ve put a lot of effort into building an incredibly talented and collaborative team that I truly trust. The challenges that arise are easier to tackle when we’re all working on a problem together.
E7: What have been some of the pros and cons of going from a career in finance to becoming a full-time beekeeper?
CS: The hardest thing about leaving a secure job at a large company and moving into the uncertain world of startups is that it becomes very hard to clock out. Even when I was working long hours in my job in finance, I was still able to take a mental break when the workday ended. When it’s a startup and it’s your own, it’s something that is so personal to you. You’re never able to turn off, reset, and clock out. Even if it’s a weekend or on vacation or I’m laying in bed, I’m still thinking about my company. I’m very inspired and passionate about what I do but it makes it hard to achieve balance. I think everyone needs to switch off sometimes.
Of course, I’m so deeply grateful to be able to work on something that I feel so excited and passionate about—something that I created— and to be able to have a real impact on the world while doing something that I truly love.
E7: What have been some of the benefits of coming from the world of finance when starting your own company?
CS: Coming from the world of finance, where the hustle is nonstop, I have built up a strong work ethic. When I started this company, I came from a world that typically demands long hours and a high level of organization. That work ethic training was especially crucial to getting Beekeeper’s Naturals off the ground and through that first year.
E7: What is your #1 piece of advice to keep in mind when starting your own business?
CS: Get ready to build a flexible mental state. To succeed, you have to reorient yourself to a growth mindset and be prepared to be incredibly resilient.
When you run a startup, most of your job involves putting out fires. You have to be able to create organization in times of sheer chaos. While that can be incredibly fun and exciting, it is also challenging. And failure is an inevitability. It’s important to realize that you will make mistakes—that’s part of the journey. Having a mindset that’s oriented towards growth and able to thrive in that sense of discomfort and uncertainty is so valuable.
E7: Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting your business?
CS: I never expected that it would be so rewarding to build a team. Prior to starting a company, I functioned as a sort of lone wolf in the workforce. I had no idea how inspiring it would be to work with people who make you question things and constantly level up.
E7: What is a challenge you’d tell future entrepreneurs in the beekeeping and natural foods industries to prepare for?
CS: I would tell people in the natural foods industry to focus on an omni-channel strategy. And in general, I suggest doing case studies on companies who have had outcomes that you aspire towards. But also understand that the market is always changing. Understanding what has worked in the past is crucial but be bold when it comes to writing your own playbook.
E7: How do you stay organized, balanced and motivated?
CS: I put a lot of effort into creating a morning routine to ground my chaotic daily schedule. As a CEO, my days are never the same and are constantly changing. I have a few things that I do every morning to centre myself, like meditation and morning journaling. The consistency of these little practices makes me feel more in control.
E7: Who are some of your mentors/role models?
CS: I believe that each of us is the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. With that in mind, I try to cultivate a social group of people who encourage and inspire me. One of these people is Janet Zuccarini. She is absolutely incredible, and I am very grateful to have her and so many other inspiring women in my life. These women serve as role models and mentors to me every day.
E7: Do you have a daily or regular ritual you practice that you love?
CS: Each day is radically different for me. One day I could be giving a talk, the next I might be pitching and meeting with retailers. With that kind of erratic schedule, having consistency in my mornings is really crucial.
I wake up every morning and immediately get out of bed to meditate. To stay centred, I’m trying to do 10 minutes of meditation every morning. (I use the Muse app.)
Then I get some water and sit down to journal. This is pure free-writing to get all the clutter out of my head. I’ll write between one to three pages nonstop.
After that, I make sure that I fit in ten minutes of movement (minimum). If I don’t make sure I get some sort of movement in at the start of my day, I don’t feel as alert and ‘in my body’. Plus, it only gets harder as the day goes on.
Lastly, I’ll make a warm drink (usually packed with lots of propolis and adaptogens) and I’m ready to tackle anything the day has in store.
E7: Where do you go or what do you do to look for inspiration?
CS: I read a lot of business books and listen to podcasts about people who’ve started and run companies. I am super inspired by people who are challenging the status quo and changing the way things are done.
I also make time to find inspiration in places that have nothing to do with business. For example, something I felt drawn to recently was the Hillary Clinton documentary, “Hillary”. (I highly recommend it.) I find that my best, most creative ideas come from the most unexpected places. Rather than pigeonholing myself into exclusively reading about entrepreneurship, I try to read/listen to/watch all types of things. You never know where inspiration might strike.
E7: What are some of the big and small ways that everyone can help #SaveTheBees every day?
CS: I love this question! When it comes down to it, saving the bees may seem like an overwhelming task, but it actually only requires a few small, actionable steps on your part:
- #1 Avoid pesticides. Don’t spray pesticides on your lawn—support organic or local pesticide-free growers as often as possible. A lot of people don’t realize that what they buy at the grocery store really matters. To support bees, that means buying organic and pesticide-free as often as you can, buying raw and sustainably sourced honey products, and looking for brands that prioritize sustainability.
- #2 Plant flowers. Make sure your local bees have access to clean, nourishing food by planting a bee garden. Design a garden (even in a window box) with year-round blooms so your local bees have good stuff to eat all three seasons. It’s also helpful to create a little bee bath (like a mini version of a bird bath with a little landing rock in the centre) so they have access to fresh water, too.
- #3 Spread the word. One of the most important things you can do is educate. The bees can’t advocate for themselves, so we have to do it for them. Get your friends and family to plant bee gardens so that clean bee habitat continues to grow in your neighbourhood.
E7: Where can your products be purchased?
CS: In Canada, you can find our products online on our website (beekeepersnaturals.ca), or in stores at Whole Foods Markets, Ambrosia, Nature’s Emporium, Nature’s Source, and Nature’s Signature.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)