Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beekman Blasts Off

A couple years ago I blogged about a glorious new venture that was begun by the former vice president of healthy living at Martha Stewart Living, Dr. Brent Ridge, with his partner, award-winning author Josh Kilmer-Purcell. I had no idea then that these two intrepid young men would eventually become friends of mine.

The new venture I'm speaking of was born on a farm - a mansion and a farm, to be exact - in the sleepy but storied town of Sharon Springs, New York. Theirs was not your average agricultural scenario, however: cows and pigs, hundreds of acres of corn fields, massive amounts of equipment and tools. Brent and Josh had something a little more quaint (and much more creative) in mind after purchasing the 1802 estate.

The couple had goats and used the luscious milk to create luxurious, handmade, organic soaps, employing local artisans to help beautify their craft. They launched a website (beekman1802.com) to sell their ruralite dream while still maintaining busy, active lives as executives in Manhattan to help fund their burgeoning business.

Two years later, the Beekman brand has sored to incredible and unexpected new heights, as has their line of Beekman merchandise: textiles, decorative accessories, vegetable seeds, stationery, cheese, cider and, of course, an expanded line of gorgeous, all-natural soap. With features in Vanity Fair, the New York Times and stints on the Martha Stewart Show, the 'Fabulous Beekman Boys' (as they will soon be known to the world) garnered the attention of some noteworthy investors, including the luxury retail brand Anthropologie (where I work!) and Planet Green, a sub-station of the Discovery Channel.

Several variations of their soaps are now sold across the United States, Canada and Britain in Anthropologie stores, including their latest, the "After the Garden" soap, shown below. Featuring unique labels and packaging, I can tell you that they are more lovely than one might anticipate, having been a customer and promoter of theirs since the beginning. If you don't live near an Anthropologie, you can order online, or perhaps make the trek to Sharon Springs yourself to visit their quaint new shop, Beekman 1802 Merchantile, which opened last weekend on the main drag. (My mother was actually their first customer!)

Even more exciting is their new television show, "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" which charts the daily existence of two Manhattanites trying (at times struggling) to lead the lives of farmers. The new show will begin airing at the end of June but you can view previews for the show here. Friends, family and colleagues of the Beekman Boys are all currently descending on Sharon Springs to attend the screening of the first episode. (Although I was invited, schedules did not permit my attendance, sad as that may be.) In any case, I can't wait to see the show!

Last December I had occasion to visit the Beekman farm and meet Josh after a few years of happy correspondence on a trip to Sharon Springs I took with my mother. We got to meet the goats too! (Brent was busy in Manhattan at a Martha Stewart event.) Both my mom and I came away thinking what a tremendously warm and generous soul Josh was and we quietly marvelled at all they had accomplished, with plans to continue building on that dream. They are inspiring people and inspiring creators, people I urge everyone to support - not just because they are friends, but because they are good, good people. (Be sure to catch their appearance on the Martha Stewart Show on Wednesday, May 26th!!)

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