Posted: Fri., Jan. 18, 2013, 5:08pm PT
'Amazing' TV duo boost off-screen biz
First-time farmers flip unscripted fame into thriving lifestyle brand
By SEAN FITZ-GERALD
After launching a brand of soap, cheese and cookbooks, Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell have savvily turned reality shows into a marketing tool to spotlight their growing business.
Last month, the couple won CBS' "The Amazing Race," taking home $1 million after traveling the globe under the team name, "the Beekman Boys," a term borrowed from the name of their reality show "The Fabulous Beekman Boys," produced by World of Wonder, that's aired for two seasons on cabler Planet Green.
Name refers to the Beekman Mansion, a 200-year-old, 60-acre estate in Sharon Springs, N.Y., just outside New York City, the home base for the entrepreneurs' lifestyle brand, Beekman 1802, they launched in 2007.
For most city slickers Saanen, Alpine and Nubian mean next to nothing. But for Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell, these kinds of goat milk are key to their success.
"It was just supposed to be a weekend farm," Kilmer-Purcell says of the decision to move from Gotham into the mansion. "We were those obnoxious Manhattanites that just go and buy a weekend property."
Along with the property came a sassy diva of a llama named Polka Spot and 80 goats, as well as their owner, a farmer named John who had written to the "Beekman Boys," because he was in danger of losing his property.
More changes came in 2008 when Ridge, VP of wellness for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, was laid off, and Kilmer-Purcell, a partner at an ad agency, lost his job one month later. Stuck with the farm and four-legged mouths to feed, the twosome opted to make their pastoral purchase profitable.
Farmer John and his goats were good for dairy products, so marketing aficionados Ridge and Kilmer-Purcell accepted the challenge of flipping vats of goat milk into artisanal cheeses and soaps.