Community and caring with our neighbors
September 18, 2018
Being neighborly is a concept defined not by distance, but by community and caring. At MacKenzie-Childs, we invite our neighbors near and far to be a part of our experience. That same philosophy holds true at Beekman 1802, one of our Upstate New York neighbors with whom we have collaborated on a series of products.
The partnership began in 2017 with Love Your Neighbor, a line of soaps, lotions, body creams, and lip balms made with goat milk from Beekman 1802 that we designed and packaged in our beautiful floral patterns. The scents of the products are inspired by the gardens on our farm and at the Beekman farm, which is located about 150 miles east of ours. The latest fragrance in the line to debut this fall is Covent Garden, which has a woody and aromatic scent, with notes of cypress and cardamom tea. It joins the previously released scents of Flower Market (rose hips, jasmine, lavender, and green citrus) and Morning Glory (sheer white florals and citrus with a whisper of jasmine).
The collaboration between the two companies was prompted by a few of our common threads. In addition to our Upstate locations, both companies started simply, based on a creative concept. Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his husband, Dr. Brent Ridge, founded Beekman 1802 after moving to Sharon Springs from Manhattan. Their journey began simply enough with a tradition of selecting an Upstate spot to pick apples. In 2006, Josh and Brent came to Sharon Springs and found Sharon Orchards. They also discovered a for-sale sign at a nearby farm, and early the following year, they bought it for a weekend retreat.
But in 2008, both men lost their jobs during the recession. To keep their farm, they had to make it profitable, so they moved there and started Beekman 1802, naming it for the family that originally owned the farm and the year that the farm was founded. Working with their neighbors, including one that had a herd of goats, they began making soap and cheese. Other neighbors taught them about farming, and Josh and Brent showed those farmers and other local artisans how to market their products. Since then, the business has steadily grown. It now has more than 50 employees and works with more than 100 local artisans who sell their products on the Beekman 1802 website and at Beekman 1802 Mercantile, their store in Sharon Springs.
Another common thread that we share with Beekman 1802 is location. We’re both located on what were once large family farms situated on the edge of a small village. We call Aurora home; Josh and Brent’s home base is Sharon Springs.
Founded in 1780, Sharon Springs has seen both boom and bust. Much of its early success came from its proximity to four mineral springs, and in the 19th century, up 10,000 visitors came each summer for the healing waters. But the village’s spas eventually lost favor to Saratoga Springs, which was closer to the state capital of Albany and had the added attraction of horse racing. Further setbacks occurred when the area’s hops industry declined and the New York State Thruway opened, taking traffic away from the village. But in the last 20 years, Sharon Springs has seen a rebirth, thanks to Beekman 1802 and an influx of other entrepreneurs.
If you’d like to visit Sharon Springs, there’s no better time than fall. The leaves will be turning and there’s plenty of apple picking close by. You can visit the Mercantile and see our collaborative products on display. Be sure, too, to take in what Brent and Josh call the Wall of Neighbors, a collage of kitchenware that pays homage to the local neighbors who helped them start their business and the customers who have become neighbors by helping them grow their business.
You might even make a weekend of visiting both us and Beekman 1802. In Aurora, we’ll be hosting our Fall Festival October 5–8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. You can see our fall and holiday collections at our shop and take a free tour of our Farmhouse at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., and 3 p.m.