Hello, fabulouses, and welcome back to the blog!
While at the 2015 Birmingham Home & Garden Show, Dr. Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell of Beekman 1802 sat down with the VIP to chat about how losing their big-city jobs changed their lives like they never would have imagined. In addition, we chatted about how “small farms can grow bigger than their fences,” adorable goats, and tomato sandwiches.
Meeting Brent and Josh and hearing their story was such a fabulous experience, and now I am ready to share all of the details with y’all, the VIP readers. So, without further ado, I introduce the Fabulous Beekman Boys! Yay!
VIP: How did y’all get started with doing all of the awesome things that y’all do–Beekman 1802, The Fabulous Beekman Boys, and so forth?
Josh: We were just too city guys. He [Brent] worked for Martha Stewart, and I was in advertising. In 2006, we bought a big ol’ farm in Upstate New York; and then, in 2008, we both lost our jobs in the recession. So, we had this giant farm that was just supposed to be for fun that we had to turn into a farm that paid for itself. So, we had about 130 goats, and we started making goat-milk soap and cheese and working with different places to create products. We set up an e-commerce site ourselves and started selling to places like Anthropologie and William Sonoma. It just grew, grew, and grew to what it is now.
VIP: What is y’all’s favorite thing to do on the farm?
Brent: Our favorite thing to do is just sit on the farm! But anyone who owns a farm today knows that the work is never ending. We can work twenty-four hours a day, and we still feel like we did not get everything done. One thing that makes our situation a little bit different is we are a business and a farm–but not just any farm. We are a farm that grows beyond its fences. Without the great team of people we have behind us, we wouldn’t be able to have done all that we have done.
VIP: Whenever you feel the need for good comfort food, what do you immediately go for?
Josh: We raise almost all of our own food on the farm. So, for us, I think our comfort food is when we get back late at night from a trip or something, and we just go out to the hen house and get a couple of eggs and go out into the garden with a flashlight and pick whatever we are in the mood for to make a good omelette with our own goat cheese. There is nothing like being able to pull a meal together literally from scratch.
VIP: I think that is so awesome! You can just walk into your backyard and tah dah–a meal is born!
Brent: Oh, yeah! For me, there is nothing more perfect than a tomato sandwich with Duke’s mayonnaise.
VIP: When I was little, I used to hate tomatoes until my Paw Riley made me a tomato sandwich with tomatoes from his garden. Since then, I have found comfort in a fresh tomato sandwich. Two pieces of white bread, mayonnaise, tomato–it’s just good!
Brent: And you cannot forget to add a little salt and pepper! It [a tomato sandwich] is just the best–I could eat ten of them!
VIP: Other than losing your jobs and overcoming that hurdle, what would you say is one challenge y’all have conquered going into farming?
Josh: One of the biggest things we had to learn is how to be patient. As busy as we are all the time, living out in the country and on a farm, we had to learn to embrace patience. In the city, you could get anything you wanted delivered to your door in less than an hour, but out in the country, you have to make a special trip to the grocery store, if you want a certain kind of food or beverage. So, for instance–tomatoes. We don’t eat tomatoes, if they are not growing in the garden. So, there is a full ten months or so that we don’t have tomatoes. One plus side to waiting that long is that when it is finally tomato season, they taste so delicious because we have waited and waited for fresh tomatoes.
VIP: Oh, I totally agree–patience tastes delicious!
Josh: Oh, definitely! And I think people who live in the cities and suburbs that just buy whatever they want whenever they want it do not learn to appreciate things to the extent that those who have patience.
Brent: Exactly! Patience makes the heart grow fonder.
VIP: What is each of y’all’s personal style?
Brent: Well, I think we have sort of meshed city and country together to create our own style. Working in media, I had to be aware of the trends; and when we moved to the country, we took our city wardrobe with us! So, often people will see us working on the farm in designer clothes, and even when we go into the city every now and again, people will see us wearing our muck boots with something city-style.
Josh: This winter, we had a stylebook we released on decorating, and it really highlights the idea of opposites attract. We have city stuff and country stuff–
Brent: My stuff and your stuff–
Josh: Yeah, you’re stuff and my stuff. We also have stuff from when the house was built in 1802 as well as a variety of modern stuff. Instead of conforming to the world of matchy, matchy, matchy, we take the things we love and put them together to create a style that not only we wear, but that we also put into our decor.
Brent: Exactly. A perfect relationship isn’t two identical things–it’s two different things or persons that get along with each other. A little contrast is important in every aspect of our lives.
VIP: Now that we have talked about y’all’s style, I have to ask my VIP question. What is one item in y’all’s closet y’all would never toss out and why?
Brent: Hm…I would probably say our muck boots.
Josh: Yes–definitely our muck boots. We have probably thirty pairs or so, and we use them everyday. They are kind of like part of the lifestyle now.