Over the last few years, wellness has become a bit of a buzz word, often associated with wacky health trends based in questionable research. (Anyone remember the toning sneaker hype of 2012?) We all want to live our healthiest lives, but when it comes to the wellness industry, it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s totally bogus.
Fortunately, there’s one “trend” that isn’t a trend at all: honey! (Now that’s a buzz word — pun intended!) Humans have been using honey since prehistoric times. Cleopatra used honey to keep her youthful glow while Hippocrates prescribed propolis to cure everything from sores to bacterial infections. It’s the real deal, and luckily, it tastes great and totally enhances some of our favorite food and drinks!
We recently hopped on the honey train after discovering Beekeeper’s Naturals, a company that brings the ancient power of the hive into the 21st century. We already loved their products, but once we learned a bit about founder Carly Stein, we knew we’d be lifelong customers. We’re chatting with Carly today to share her story, and share why honey is so important to include in your daily routine!
Your career didn’t start in honey! Tell us a bit about your journey.
Believe it or not, I actually started out in finance! I got a job at a hedge fund out of college and was soon recruited to work on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs. Not what you expected, right?
Straight out of college, I had a career that most people would consider “successful”, for sure. Going into the world of finance seemed like a good idea at the time—it was something adult and responsible that I felt like I ‘should’ do. But it quickly became clear to me that I didn’t love that job. It didn’t feel authentic or inspiring. But at the time I couldn’t define what I actually wanted. So I kept trading, but all the while I felt lost, isolated, and deeply unhappy.
At a certain point, the gut instincts I had been ignoring for so long started roaring. I started listening and realized that I really wanted to indulge in my strange college-era hobby (borderline obsession) of working with bees and formulating healing wellness products with superfoods from the hive. It was then that I realized that I couldn’t define what I wanted to do with my life because it simply didn’t exist yet. I had to create my dream career for myself. So I dropped everything and set out to start Beekeeper’s Naturals.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy to decide to leave the lucrative world of finance to go start, of all things, a BEE company! When I shared my dream with friends and colleagues, they flat out told me I was crazy! I was told I was throwing my life away and how lucky I had been to be given such a stable job at Goldman Sachs. I was regaled with tale after tale of startup failures. Friends strongly advised me to just stick it out and save my passion projects for retirement.
I am so glad I didn’t listen to them.
Ultimately having to overcome those negative perceptions and judgments was the best thing that could have happened to me. It meant I had to put my full faith into my dreams, above any fears or insecurities that I had, to really make them happen. In the end, I am so grateful for all the doubt and fear projected by others, because it forced me to learn to believe in myself.
How did you first get involved in beekeeping, and what do you love most about it?
I actually got involved in beekeeping out of necessity. I was always sick growing up, but in college my recurring tonsillitis got particularly severe. As I was studying during my semester abroad, my tonsils swelled up to the size of golf balls, which you can imagine was pretty unpleasant.
I stumbled into a pharmacy in Italy, desperate not to cut my trip short and go home for surgery. The pharmacist miraculously understood my garbled Italian and handed me a bottle of propolis. I had no idea what it was but, with nothing to lose, I started taking it religiously. And guess what! Within a week my tonsils had returned to normal and I felt better than ever!
When I finally came home to finish up college I couldn’t find propolis anywhere, which I found unacceptable. Propolis was a game-changer for me! As someone with an autoimmune condition I’ve always been interested in natural healing solutions. Of course, I was frequently disappointed with the exorbitant prices and poor results. So when I found something all-natural that actually worked for me, I couldn’t envision my life without it.
Since I couldn’t seem to find propolis in stores, I took the next logical step—I became a beekeeper’s apprentice! That way I could start making the good stuff for myself. As I started learning more about bees and the meaningful role they play as pollinators, the deal was sealed for me. Not only do bees make products that were the key to solving my health issues, but they are integral to the health of our planet—and insanely fascinating. The hook was set.
Now that your company is established, what advice would you give yourself when you first started out?
Trust yourself. If you want something badly enough, you will make it happen.
I was so scared, anxious, and overflowing with self-doubt when I started this journey. (Actually, full-disclosure, sometimes I still am. But I’ve gotten a lot better. We’re all just works in progress, right?) I knew I had to bring this thing to life, so I did it, but it would have been a loteasier and faster if I had just maintained a positive mindset and gotten to work! Looking back, I’d tell myself to let the passion override the fear! Enjoy the ride and know that you are enough.
What is a typical work day like for you?
I don’t think there is any such thing as a “typical” day when you’re running a startup. I have different challenges and goals every single day. I’ve found that I can’t get too accustomed to any particular schedule because I have to be open to the different diversions, challenges, and opportunities that might present themselves. I also travel a ton, which is always an atypical experience.
One thing that I am pretty consistent about is I try to get my solo computer work done early in the a.m. so that I am more available to support my team the rest of the day. I wake up, do a little meditation to keep my head on straight, log in some solo work time, and head off into whatever that day brings. I guess typical for me is embracing the unknown. (Running a startup is totallya practice in mindfulness and finding your zen!)
What would someone be surprised to find about beekeeping?
Sustainable beekeeping is actually critically important to our global food system. Bees pollinate ⅓ of our entire food supply. Without bees, almonds, avocados, and even coffee would either disappear from our planet entirely or become prohibitively expensive. Sustainable beekeepers, who keep their hives healthy and safe from chemicals, are on the front lines of protecting this keystone species.
In terms of actually keeping bees, they are a lot more docile than you’d expect. Everyone assumes that they’re just on a mission to sting, sting, sting, but that’s not the case at all. If a honey bee stings you, it dies, so generally they reserve that for their last line of defense. If you don’t endanger them, they won’t attack you.
Another fun little bee fact is that the hive is a matriarchal society—all worker bees are female. The drone bees (aka the males) are only there for the purpose of mating. #NaturesFeminists
For those who haven’t experimented much with honey, propolis, bee pollen, etc… what are your favorite unexpected ways to use your products?
Ah, I love talking about the hive superfoods! Okay, so honey isn’t the only bee product that comes out of the hive. There is also propolis, royal jelly, and bee pollen. I use each of these almost every single day in one way or another. Let me tackle them one by one…
- Propolis is my daily immune boost. I use 3-5 sprays every day to keep my immune system up. If I’m traveling or feeling run down, I double up with 10+ sprays a day. Propolis is totally my fave scratchy throat saver, but a lot of people don’t realize you can also use it topically. Its powerful germ-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for applying to minor cuts and burns!
- Royal jelly is really amazing for boosting productivity. We created B.LXR Brain Fuel, which are these royal jelly powered nootropic shots, and I regularly take ½ a vial daily to improve my memory and get in the zone. (It has been especially helpful lately as I’ve been trying to cut out caffeine—a massive challenge!). Beyond the brain, royal jelly is also great for your skin! It’s full of fatty acids and antioxidants, so I do a B.Powered face mask once a week to improve my skin tone, fend off premature aging, and support my glow.
- Bee Pollen is my multivitamin, no joke. It is densely loaded with protein, vitamins, and essential amino acids. I love sprinkling pollen on my yogurt, smoothies, and avo toast. I find that it’s a really great way to boost the vitamin content of my meals and keep my energy levels high!
- And lastly, you probably didn’t know that raw honey is actually a pretty magical sleep aid. For those struggling with sleep issues, a spoonful of honey before bed can work wonders. B.Chill, which is raw honey blended with hemp oil and MCTs, is ideal for optimizing sleep and taking the edge off stress. But my little trick is I actually use B.Chill for my cramps and (infrequent) hangovers. I find it really helps to soothe the body and helps ease the nausea.