A decade ago, Brent Ridge was working as a physician and his partner Josh Kilmer-Purcell was an ad executive in New York City. Today the two men run the highly successful lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802, which just shattered records with its launch on HSN last week. So how did these two city slickers end up owning a 60-acre goat farm and start a booming business that encompasses skincare, food, home, a quarterly magazine and their own reality show The Fabulous Beekman Boys? They credit it all to their neighbors.
Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell bought a farm in Sharon Springs in upstate New York in 2006 as a way to escape from the city. “We just thought it would be a weekend getaway,” Ridge tells PEOPLE about the farm that is now frequented by celebs including Mindy Cohn, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Rachael Ray and Martha Stewart.
But in 2008, both men lost their jobs during the recession and had to devise a plan to afford their mortgage and save the farm. “We started Googling ‘What can we make with goat milk,’” says Ridge. (Their property housed the goats of their neighbor, farmer John, after he lost his own farm.)
They started with goat milk soap, learned how to make it from the help of one of their neighbors, and Ridge began selling it at Henri Bendel. “I stood on the floor at Henri Bendel for eight weeks straight, 10 hours a day, selling the soap and talking about how amazing it was for the skin.” A buyer from Anthropologie happened to try his soap, brought the product into Anthropologie stores and put the Beekman Boys on the map.
More and more of their neighbors in their small upstate town of 547 people began pitching ideas of products they could sell to accompany the soaps and before they knew it, a business was born. “As city people who have worked in media before our role in this little village in upstate New York was to help build a brand that all of our neighbors could sell products under,” says Kilmer-Purcell.
To this day, they refer to all of their customers as “neighbors” and 50,000 people a year make a pilgrimage to visit their brick and mortar store located on the half-mile-long main street of Sharon Springs, New York.
The farm #nofilter
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“I think part of the reason we have grown so quickly and so solidly is because all of our neighbors and customers feel just as part of the success for Beekman as we are,” says Kilmer-Purcell. “They can come to Sharon Springs and they can meet all of the crafts people, they can pet the goats, they are as much a part of the brand and the company as we are. They call themselves neighbors as well.”
They expanded their brand by incorporating goat milk into as many beauty products as possible. “We started noticing how our skin felt …read more