Carly Stein

Carly Stein

Founder and CEO | Beekeeper’s Naturals

Industry
Wellness

Location
Toronto, Canada


Carly Stein: How the Founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals is Revolutionizing the Wellness Industry

Unable to take most antibiotics and OTC medicines due to an autoimmune condition, Beekeeper’s Naturals Founder and CEO Carly Stein (28 years old) suffered from sore throats and colds almost constantly. Having fallen ill while studying abroad in Italy in 2012, Carly discovered propolis, a natural bee substance with over 300 powerful properties to support immunity. Surprisingly, Stein’s symptoms were immediately treated, but when she returned to North America, she was unable to find a similar product. Fascinated by the power of hive-derived and natural ingredients, Stein left her trading job at Goldman Sachs to launch Beekeeper's Naturals in 2017.  The brand has since been reinventing the medicine cabinet by challenging the industry with clean, natural remedies from the beehive. Committed to efficacious, high-quality ingredients, every Beekeeper’s Naturals product is completely free of additives, chemicals, refined sugars, and harmful side effects. Beekeeper’s Naturals is also dedicated to sustainable beekeeping—a key pillar of the company—as the global bee population is currently on the decline due to widespread habitat loss, increased use of pesticides, and climate change. Over the last few months, they've seen increased demand, with their bestselling propolis sales up 600% year over year and online orders surging 5-6x their daily average.

What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19? 

Our first concern is the safety of our team at Beekeeper’s Naturals. We’ve significantly reduced the number of staff permitted in our production facilities and warehouses, staggering shifts in order to ensure our team and products are safe. Keeping that in mind, our business has experienced an unprecedented surge over the last month, specifically for our Propolis Throat Spray, which we saw a 600% year-over-year growth for the month of March alone, with orders averaging 5-6x our daily average. Many consumers are looking to discover new ways to boost their immunity, so we’ve had to be incredibly efficient and agile in order to fulfill the orders for people who want our products now.

Beekeeper’s Naturals Propolis Throat Spray.

What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation? 

We’re taking it day by day. We’ve essentially turned our entire team into customer service associates to help address the uptick. We’re also looking ahead at upcoming retail launches, thinking about what those will look like given the landscape has immensely changed. From a product perspective, we recently introduced a new clean cough syrup called B.Soothed earlier this month. It’s been in the works for about two years, but we were conscious that the timing felt strange and we didn’t know how a new cough syrup would be received at this time. We decided to proceed with the launch because we knew this was a product that could help people—one that our customers had long been waiting for. We reassessed our launch strategy to be more open and authentic in our messaging and audited the language we were using, to make sure nothing would be misconstrued.

Generally, it’s critical for us to be nimble during these times, so we’re adapting daily to ensure we’re focused on doing what is best for our customers. Our marketing strategy is a great example of that. We plan our newsletters and campaigns a month in advance, but we decided to ditch our plans and quickly put together content that would be a value add to our community during this time. We had to be agile and work overtime, but we want to be able to support our community by offering them timely content that is inspiring, entertaining, and uplifting. It’s important to remind people that we are all in this together.

Our business has experienced an unprecedented surge over the last month, specifically for our Propolis Throat Spray, which we saw a 600% year-over-year growth for the month of March alone, with orders averaging 5-6x our daily average. 

How do you think things will look in your industry a year from now? 

We’re constantly trying to think a few steps ahead and ensure we’re thinking about the best possible solutions for our customers at every touch point. We consider this from all corners of our business, from sustainable beekeeping and third-party product testing, to thoughtful packaging, and customer education. That being said, the wellness industry is constantly evolving, so you have to stay agile. Right now, consumers are paying more attention now than ever to what’s in their products, where they’re getting them from, and how they impact their bodies. There’s no hiding behind a complicated ingredients label anymore. Customers are becoming more conscious of avoiding dirty chemicals and starting to prioritize sustainability and natural products. That’s why we center our remedies around clean, sustainably sourced natural ingredients, like propolis.

If you’re not familiar, propolis is an antioxidant dense bee product with powerful protective properties and 300+ beneficial compounds. For bees, it’s used to line the hive walls to keep germs out—for humans, it ​supports our immune systems, soothes scratchy throats, and helps combat free radical damage in the body​.

What have you learned from other difficult times in the past, and how are you applying that to what’s happening now? 

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. In this particular time in crisis, open lines of communication throughout our whole team are essential. Our team is currently 25 people strong, and we are all working remotely, with the exception of essential warehouse workers. Things are changing fast, so I want to ensure that every team member is accessible. We’re having full team check-ins every day on Zoom to make sure everyone is happy, in the loop, and feeling good (not burnt out). We’re all communicating via Slack as well.

I’ve been very open about burn out on our team calls. We are a health company, so it is my priority to ensure that our team isn’t sacrificing their health for us. If someone comes to me and is feeling overloaded and overwhelmed, my first step is to get as much off their plate as possible and give them some breathing space. Luckily, we have an amazing, supportive team that is quick to share the load and support each other where they can.

I’m also being more conscious of taking the time to help support people in their bigger projects. If they’re feeling overwhelmed, I get on a call with them and we work through it together, strategizing how we could break it up into smaller pieces and reassessing timelines where we can. This sounds simple, but it has really diffused a lot of the stress and pressure for some of our team.

Beekeeper Naturals’ Founder and CEO Carly Stein.

Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime

 

Morning routine?
Even though I’m home, each day is radically different for me. One day I could be giving a talk on IG Live, the next I might be pitching and (virtually) meeting with retailers. With that kind of erratic schedule, having consistency in my mornings is really crucial for me.  Once it became clear that I was going to be working from home for a while, I took some time to write out a realistic morning routine. (I took time to color it in and make it beautiful so that I would enjoy seeing it on my wall.) Here’s the basics:

  • Wake Up and Meditate: To stay centered, I’m trying to do 10 minutes of meditation every morning. (I use the Muse app.)
  • Journal: This is pure freewriting to get all the clutter out of my head. I’ll write between one to three pages nonstop.
  • 10 Minutes of Movement (minimum): I’ll pop on some workout video to gently wake my body up for the day.
  • After hitting all my basics, 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.

Currently binging?
I’m currently watching Hillary, the new docuseries about Hillary Clinton on Hulu.  It really dissects why she is such a polarizing political icon and speaks volumes to the challenges any female politician faces because of her gender.

Currently reading?
Right now I’m reading two books. For self-improvement, I’m reading Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon by Joe Dispenza. For fiction, (one of my all-time favorites): Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling.

What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
I’m still quite busy during the weekdays, but I am making a concerted effort to carve out space during the weekend to enjoy undistracted, quality time with a loved one. We’re surrounded by lots of nature right now, so often we’ll take a long hike or bike ride together. Nature is wonderful in that it forces you to unplug, slow down, and be really present with everyone and everything around you. I’ve also found that cooking beautiful meals together has the same wonderful effect.

What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
I’m working hard to keep up my morning routine of meditation, journaling, and movement—it’s my rock. It’s so easy to get caught up in the anxiety of what’s happening in the world, all the fear and inconsistency. Maintaining some sense of structure brings me back to the present moment better than anything else.

Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
Before all of this happened, I traveled a lot, mostly for work. Being forced to stay put is a big change of pace from my semi-nomadic lifestyle, but it has allowed me to daydream about non-work-related adventures. I’ve been thinking a lot about Hawaii lately. It has been on my bucket list for a very long time.