And of course it comes in millennial pink
Drinking water is good for you—and this company’s bottom line.
Six years ago, grad friends Tal Winter and Kate Cutler launched Bkr, a San Francisco-based upscale water bottle label. The idea was simple: drinking water is a major part of many women’s beauty routines, and imbibing out of a well-designed, reusable vessel makes it less of a chore. “Both our mothers have amazing skin and we know you have to drink a lot of water for that,” says Winter, who like Cutler is in her early 40s. But they were frustrated with how most water come out in environmentally unfriendly plastic bottles, and decided to create something of their own.
Today, Bkr—pronounced ‘beaker”—occupies a niche perch as a product of choice for the beauty-conscious buyer. It’s sold over 1.5 million of its cutesy glass bottles, which comes in colors like lavender, rose gold and forest green and in a silicone sleeve, in over 20 markets. Unusually for a water bottle, Bkr is primarily sold not in the housewares section, but rather in cosmetic chains like LVMH’s Sephora and the beauty counter at Nordstrom’s. Celebs from Gisele Bündchen to Jessica Alba and January Jones have been photographed with a Bkr, prices of which start at $28.
Earlier this fall, Bkr released its 500 collection, a series of $185 Swarovski crystal-embellished bottles, exclusively at Harrods, the British department store (it’s now also available in the U.S.) The crystals however aren’t encrusted on by the side of a bottle, as such decorations often are. Instead, about 500 little pieces were let loose in a “dome”—the cap of the bottles. All net profit from that series goes to Water for People, a charity that helps develop and deliver clean water systems. “We always wanted to create the most elevated, sparkly bottles,” says Winter. “There was a beautiful idea and we wanted to use it to a beautiful end.”
The only money Bkr has ever raised was from a small “family and friends” round, in large because of skepticism about the marketability of their product.
“The company has been bootstrapped on limited resources,” says Cutler, who came on board after her classmate at UC Hastings College of Law had already been working on a prototype. “Where do we sell and who’s our customer? We didn’t know these things since we were lawyers before, so there was a huge learning curve.”
So who exactly is the Bkr consumer? According to the founders, their clients are overwhelmingly women who care not just about external beauty, but also internal wellness. “Younger women are starting to realize it’s not just what you put on the skin but how much sleep you’re getting and how much you work out,” says Winter. “The beauty from within category is really gaining traction. We’re the original gangsters and pushing water on people.”
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