Fashion Tribe: Bkr shares ideas of beauty, health
BY NADINE KAM / email@example.com
Believing that the average person has four careers in her, Tal Winter and Kate Cutler were ready to take a step away from their first after practicing law in California for 13 years.
The two met at University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Winter went on to represent abused children in the foster care system, while Cutler worked in corporate litigation.
“It wasn’t that we were unhappy with our work, but we wanted to do something more creative,” Cutler said.
In 2011, they made the leap with their launch of bkr (pronounced “beaker,” like the chemistry glass wide-mouthed glass vessels). Their specialty, glass drinking bottles wrapped in a brightly colored, sand-based silicone sleeve.
Their one product, a stylish, Instagrammable 500-milliliter water bottle that quickly won a cult following. Initially carried by museum and design shops, bkr moved onto beauty floors, thanks to a push from excited fans, who shared their stories and convinced the founders that—with their message of beauty, health and hydration from the inside out—they were really in the beauty business.
The two founders were in town earlier this month for the Nordstrom Beauty Trend Event, and three exclusive bkr designs are also being featured as part of Neiman Marcus’s Love to Give collection of more than 60 designer items priced for holiday gift-giving. Ten percent of sales for each of the gift items will support the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Art to Go program.
I caught up with the founders at the Modern Honolulu, where I spotted their colorful bkrs right away.
“We always drank a lot of water because we think it’s the key to being healthy from inside out,” Winter said. “But we realized we were drinking out of plastic that’s really bad for our health and the environment, and once you realize that, you can’t go back. Life is too short to drink from trash.”
The pair adopted the saying, “Beauty Will Save the World,” believing that those who fall in love with bkr also heed their message of environmental consciousness.
Although metal water flasks also abound, Winter said that was not an option.
“You wouldn’t drink wine out of metal; water doesn’t taste good with metal either.”
Nothing prepared them for the response to their little creation, now also available in a teeny 250 milliliter size ($28) for travel and stowing in a purse.
“Women would tell us they love their bkr so much and would ask, ‘Is it possible to love your water bottle?’” Winter said.
It became a must-have fashion accessory, the perfect chic addition for the road, whether traveling to the gym, beach or to carry with a designer purse to business meeting.
“We listened to our customers and once we made the connection, we started moving into spas, because they already knew the benefits of hydration,” Cutler said.
From there, they were able to approach stores like NM, Nordstrom, and Saks Fifth Avenue with the idea of placement in their beauty departments.
“Basically, if you’re not drinking enough, nothing you put on your skin will help much,” said Winter. “A lot of the things you go to beauty counters or dermatologists for—fine lines, rosacea—are related to hydration, and most of us are dehydrated. If you ever feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.”
The duo have a few plans in the works, but demure from elaborating. Winter said, “We’re intending to grow in the beauty space where customers expect to find us. We’re not a container company. We’re a beauty company.”
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.