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In honor of the launch of Vital Proteins new Collagen Water™, we’re kicking off a weekly series on Lively called “How I Uncap My Potential,” where we feature amazing women doing incredible things in their field. Today, we’re spotlighting Carly Stein, the 20-something founder of Beekeeper’s Naturals.

Steins opens up about how she took BKN from a side hustle to a full-fledged company recognized by Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and Vogue. Plus, find out how she incorporates Vital Proteins into her everyday routine. Get to know the entrepreneur below. 

Interview with Beekeeper's Naturals Founder Carly Stein

Lively: Did you always set out to start your own company?

Carly Stein: Absolutely not! Beekeeper’s Naturals evolved organically out of a need to solve my own health issues. I always struggled with a weak immune system growing up and was unable to tolerate most antibiotics, so I was sick a lot. When I discovered the powers of bee propolis while studying abroad, it was life-changing. For the first time in my life, I had a secret weapon in my arsenal that offered real relief and helped me feel better.     

Of course, I couldn’t find this magical bee stuff anywhere when I got back home, so I took up beekeeping, so I could always keep a steady supply on hand. (That’s when I discovered just how amazing and important bees are.) Eventually I started formulating my own propolis immune support spray. Right from the start, I was adamant about not using the alcohol, refined sugars, preservatives, or gross fillers found in most remedies. I gifted a few bottles to friends and they were utterly amazed that it worked so well for them. It all sort of snowballed from there. Eventually, friends of friends of friends were coming up to me, asking them to hook them up with my Propolis Spray. It was a fun and rewarding side hustle for me during college, but I never thought it would be my job. Launch a bee-powered wellness company? It seemed crazy!

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When I graduated, I got a stable job in finance, living in New York City, eventually working on the trading floor at Goldman Sachs. Sure, it seemed like the definition of success to an outsider, but I was miserable. I eventually decided to make a massive shift in my life and go back to the only things that truly brought me joy— crafting new wellness solutions and the bees. Against the advice of my friends and colleagues, I made the decision to leave my stable job and leap into this crazy bee wellness company idea full-time. It was the best decision I ever made.                  

L: What has been the most rewarding experience of your career so far?

CS: There is nothing more rewarding than building a team. Watching people overcome challenges, grow, and learn about themselves is so inspiring. The Beekeeper’s Naturals team is particularly exceptional. Each and every one of them exudes positivity, enthusiasm, and true dedication to the BKN mission. Honestly, it makes me a little teary every time I think about it.    

Of course, equally as rewarding is being able to connect with customers who have struggled with their health and are finally finding relief with our products. To hear their stories and their deep gratitude for what we’re doing makes all the years of hustling worth it.

RELATED: Entrepreneur Eric Hinman: How I Uncap My Potential     

L: What advice would you give aspiring business owners?

CS: Build your grit and perseverance. When it comes down to it, it really doesn’t matter how intelligent or naturally gifted you are. All that matters is your willingness to keep trying and failing, until you break through. So few people actually give their dreams a 100% effort. Most of us only give 10% or 20% — because we are so afraid of giving it all, only to fail. No one wants to look or feel stupid. But here’s the catch 22 — if you’re not giving it your all, you’ll probably fail anyways! So, toughen your skin, accept the inevitability of failure, and give your dreams the full try they deserve. Grit and perseverance are by far the most important qualities for entrepreneurs.         

L: What does self-care mean to you? How do you unwind after a long day?

CS: For me, self-care involves a regular fitness regimen and daily meditation. I work out and meditate nearly every morning in order to stay balanced, grounded, and able to tackle anything.

After a long day or week, I make sure to make the time and space to have fun with friends and decompress a little. It’s also so important for me to reconnect with nature. When I am able to get outside, like on a solo day hike or a beach run, I find that I am so much more inspired and focused when I’m back at work.   

RELATED: How to Create the Ultimate Zen Corner at Home    

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L: How does Vital Proteins help you live a healthier life?

CS: I am obsessed with Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. I use it daily to fuel up post-workout and stay nourished during my hectic days. The collagen does wonders to keep my joints healthy and my skin glowing, even with all the crazy traveling I do. I also love the Spirulina Capsules — it’s great for a daily detox.         

L: How do you Uncap Your Potential?

CS: I don’t know if there is any one secret ingredient, but I do put a lot of mindfulness into creating routines to set me up for success. My primary practices are gratitude journaling and meditation. I’ll take half an hour every morning to list out what I’m grateful for, which is a powerful practice. Humans are hardwired to focus on the negative for survival (thank evolution for that), so being able to see and acknowledge the positive aspects of your own life takes some conscious practice. But once you start, it is so rewarding. After that, I’ll meditate for 10 minutes to clear my head and open myself up for whatever the day has to offer.    

I am also constantly working to level up. I think self-growth is so valuable — no matter how old we get, we should always keep learning about ourselves and the world at large. When I have time to sit quietly, I’m reading. But since I am always on the go, I will more often immerse myself in podcasts that help me build out my knowledge and widen my skill set. And I’m always open to having conversations with as many diverse people as I can. There is something to learn from every person and interaction, so I try to be open to what the world has to offer.    

Photos: Courtesy of Carly Stein