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How Beekman 1802 Turns Kindness Into Cash

The brand’s strategy, centered around goodwill, has catapulted it to $150 million in retail sales.

When Beekman 1802 cofounders Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge first rethought their careers after the 2008 recession, they relied on the kindness of neighbors.

Having given refuge to a goat farmer with over 100 goats, Kilmer-Purcell, a marketing exec, and Ridge, a physician, started Beekman 1802 by selling bars of soap made of goat milk to their neighbors, the pair said, during their presentation at the 2021 Beauty CEO summit.

“You cannot say no to a homeless farmer or 100 homeless goats, so we said sure, come on and join us. That single act of kindness set the course for Beekman 1802,” Ridge said.

The brand extends that ethos to every aspect of its operations, from its internal culture to its marketing and product development. “Kindness is not just a tagline to us, it’s not just a seasonal marketing initiative. It is truly our purpose,” Kilmer-Purcell said.

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Although simple, the game plan is paying off. “This is not a luxury, this is our purpose, this is our competitive advantage. This is our strategy. And last year, we actually hit, for the first time, $150 million in retail sales,” Kilmer-Purcell added.

The brand was an early entrant to the explosion in microbiome-friendly skin care, as goat milk promises to not disrupt it. “If you treat your skin’s microbiome with a little bit of kindness, it stays healthier and more balanced. We call this clinically kind skin care,” Ridge said. “We believe that microbiome health is the new clean beauty. Now, clean beauty, of course, has no definition. And it typically focuses on what a product isn’t, the things that it doesn’t contain. Microbiome health focuses on what a product does.”

Beekman 1802 is the first microbiome-certified skin care line at Ulta Beauty, and the only one at QVC and HSN, Ridge said.

Kilmer-Purcell added that the clinical effects of kindness on the human psyche also have implications in beauty, calling it a “revolutionary wellness platform” and describing how it moderates stress hormones, which can impact cellular function, repair and renewal.

The pair have opened up their farm to others, too. This past year, in celebration of Pride month, they hosted a marathon of weddings for 37 couples in a single day. “We provided everything from music to photography, and several Beekman team members actually certified themselves to officiate the services,” Ridge added.

The year prior, in the earlier days of the pandemic, they created a socially distanced event space for closed restaurants to revive their revenues. Now, the brand is going as far as to work with Oxford University’s Dr. Oliver Scott Curry to study the impacts of kindness in the workplace, and is allowing consumers to apply for $500 “kindness grants” to help fund acts of goodwill.

“We spread kindness like we spread moisturizer — it’s everywhere,” Kilmer-Purcell said.

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