From a young age, Carly Stein was an outdoorsy type. As a kid, she recalls loving nature and having an early and innate passion for wellness. And as someone who grew up with chronic tonsillitis and immune issues, it’s fair to say she was sick a lot—but not only that, she was allergic to most antibiotics, which limited her medicinal options. After exploring the natural medicine world, she grew frustrated with the pseudoscience and lack of efficacious options that she found out there. Combined with her growing love for bees and the natural products that can be made from their pollen and honey, she was eventually inspired to launch her own wellness company, Beekeeper’s Naturals. Founded in 2017, Beekeeper’s Naturals specializes in providing remedies with natural, sustainable, clean ingredients name and science-backed formulas that actually work. You can buy them online or in retailers like Whole Foods.
We caught up with Carly and she walked us through her career path, sustainability and why she thinks it’s so important to care about the bees, and what her advice is as an entrepreneur and CEO.
To start, could you briefly walk us through your pre-Beekeeper’s Natural’s career path?
After college I immediately moved to NYC to pursue a career in finance, where I soon became a trader at Goldman Sachs. I worked there for a few years, trying to follow a more socially acceptable and safe life path, but I eventually realized I was deeply unhappy. I knew, above everything else, that I wanted to make a difference in the world. So, I decided to take a big leap and follow my dreams, building the company that I felt (and still feel) the world needs.
What drew you to bees in the first place?
I learned about the medicinal properties of bee products while I was studying abroad in Europe. I had this incredible experience with propolis while I was over there—it cured my particularly bad case of tonsillitis and saved me from having to fly home for surgery. After that trip, I started incorporating propolis and other bee products into my routine and experienced radical, unprecedented positive changes in my health. Curious to learn even more, I started beekeeping—harvesting ingredients and formulating the clean remedies that I wanted for myself. Once I started learning about the incredible impact these creatures have on our planet, I was in love.
To go back to basics, why should everyone care about saving the bees?
There would be a global food shortage without the bees! They are a keystone species and they help pollinate ⅓ of our food supply—from almonds to berries to avocados. Without the bees, it would be very hard to grow and sustain the natural foods we rely on.
Beyond human impact, bees also pollinate many of the plants and flowers that other species rely on, so losing the bees would mean catastrophic destruction to our ecosystem as a whole.
Now, tell us more about Beekeeper’s Naturals! When did you found this company and what inspired it?
When I started out, BKN was not really a company at all. It was just me looking to cure my health issues and discovering a new passion in the process. I really love formulating my own natural products, so creating our flagship propolis immune support spray was just my side hustle for a while. But once I realized how beneficial hive-based solutions could be for the broader population, I knew I had to turn my little hobby into the real deal. I professionally launched BKN in early 2017.
How has it evolved since you launched?
I started at small farmer markets, totally on my own and talking about bees to anyone who would listen. Just a couple years later, we are in Whole Foods Market with international locations. BKN has grown a lot in a short time.
Focused on reinventing the medicine cabinet, we decided to pay special care to the immune support space shortly after launching. We’re reimagining things like conventional cough syrup—the highly chemical, sugary medicines that we all grew up with. We’ll continue to build out from there. Our goal is to give people tools to support their health and recover—tools that are powered by clean ingredients and have a positive environmental impact, while not sacrificing on scientific rigour or the effectiveness of the products.
Now, what exactly is beekeeping? Everyone has heard of it, but I feel like a lot of people don’t know what it actually involves.
Working with bees is surprisingly low maintenance. Opening the box all the time can be stressful and disruptive for them, so I actually prefer to leave them alone as much as possible and let them do their thing. What I pay special attention to, when I’m beekeeping and with our partner apiaries, is that the bees have vast access to clean, biodiverse foraging grounds with lots of blooming flowers and plant life—and that they are far from harmful pesticides.
For me, beekeeping is all about connecting and caring for a critical creature—the bee. Bees may seem tiny, but they have a huge impact on the planet. And at this moment, they really need our support. Bee populations are still on a steady decline, so sustainable beekeeping is more important than ever.
What are your favourite Beekeeper’s Naturals products?
Discovering propolis is what launched me on this whole journey, so our Propolis Spray has a really special place in my heart. I take it multiple times daily for immune support, throat soothing, and for a burst of antioxidants to help fend off stress induced cellular damage. It’s also my germ-fighting essential when traveling. I honestly never leave home without it.
That being said, I am also really excited about our newest product, B.Soothed Cough Syrup. It’s a truly clean cough syrup—there’s really nothing else like it on the market. We formulated it with natural ingredients that are backed by scientific research for supporting recovery—and there are norefined sugars or dirty chemicals inside whatsoever! B.Soothed is an incredibly powerful way for families to support their health and recovery without having to sacrifice their values. It’s the medicine cabinet of the future.
What are your favourite wellness routines or hacks?
Each day is radically different for me. As a CEO, I have an incredibly erratic schedule (depending on what fires I need to put out or what meetings I have set up), so having consistency in my mornings is crucial.
First thing, I immediately get out of bed to meditate. To stay centered, I’m trying to do 10 minutes of meditation every morning. (I use the Muse headset because I love seeing proof of my progress.) Then I get some water and sit down to journal. I practice pure freewriting to get all the clutter out of my head, so I’ll write between one to three pages nonstop. After that, I make sure to fit in a little yoga to settle into my body and feel more alert. When I’m done, I’m set up for success and ready to tackle anything.
In the evenings I’ll sauna, do some more yoga, or take an epsom salt bath to encourage myself to decompress and unwind. On weekends I make it a priority to get out and spend some time in nature. It’s easy to take nature for granted, but the physiological and psychological benefits that come from spending time in nature are astounding. It’s truly a form of medicine, so I make time for it—no matter how swamped I am.
Last year, you were named in Forbes 30 under 30, which is amazing. How did that feel?
It was a major honour. It’s really a testament to my team and the way the company has been able to grow. We launched in 2017, so to be acknowledged for our work and our positive impact this early on is really something incredible.
What important lessons have you learned in your career so far as a business owner and entrepreneur?
My biggest struggle on this journey has been getting comfortable with delegation. 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.
That’s led me to put a lot of effort into building an incredibly talented and collaborative team that I truly trust. Above everything else, I’ve learned that having a good team is so crucial. Everyone on our team is passionate about our company and believes as deeply in our mission as I do. Bringing the right people together and delegating out responsibilities has allowed Beekeeper’s Naturals to grow quickly, which allows me to continue to focus on new initiatives that take us to the next level.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
Adopt a growth mindset. Don’t let failure (or fear of failure) hold you back. You will fail, and that’s a good thing. It’s how we learn, how we evolve, and how we learn to make things that are truly incredible. Consider failure a lesson and an opportunity to build your resilience muscle. This is the thing that will most serve you as you build your career and grow professionally.
What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself and Beekeeper’s Naturals in five years?
I see Beekeeper’s Naturals changing the way people think about medicine and healing. I hope we will have a deep impact on the health and wellness of others in a way that inspires a massive shift in the industry, paving the way for a greater focus on clean ingredients, transparent sourcing, and making a positive environmental and social impact.